Themes of the Week

Coming out as transgender

Dear Alice,

I want to become a male but I'm trapped in a female's body. I recently saw "Boys Don't Cry" and everything Teena felt I felt. Becoming a male would make me truly happy but I'm hopeless and desperate for a first step to take. I only cross dress in privacy and around my close confidants. My mother would die if she found out. Lately I have been feeling suicidal over my complete and dire unhappiness and uneasiness. PLEASE HELP ME!

—LOST gender

Gay and President?

Dear Alice,

At this stage of the game, I think I am gay. I often fantasize about a friend I have known for a while, I am not sure if he is gay, but sometimes I convince myself he is, other times I'm convinced he's not. I really like him and want more than to just fantasize about him. The problem is I am relatively popular in school and coming out would be a huge massive disruption in my life, and the problem is further complicated by this: the one thing I want in life is to be a successful politician (perhaps even president). I have wanted this for as long as I can remember. If I am openly gay, THERE IS NO WAY I will win any election, let alone a national one. What am I to do?

In love with my best friend, but he's gay

Dear Alice,

My best buddy is a gay male. I am a straight female. We get along so well, soul mates, so to speak. My problem is that I truly believe I am in love with him. I miss him terribly when we are apart and am very turned on by him. I can't explain it. Do I keep on as is because I can't risk losing him or do I try to see if he has bisexual interests?

Coming out to mom

Dear Alice,

How do you think I should go about coming out of the closet to my mother?

Gay men having sex with women?

Dear Alice,

Do gay guys actually go with girls just so no one knows they are gay? How would they be able to "perform" on the girl if they weren't attracted to them?

What to do about salty sweat stains?

Hi Alice!

I've been a good kid working out and being healthy, but the gym I go to has uniforms and I always wear a black t-shirt. That's great, until I sweat and it leaves salt rings where the sweat reached out to. Ewwww. This is embarrassing, and I have to wash the shirt before I can wear it again, which is annoying since I go almost every day and need to re-wear shirts once or twice. ANYWAYS, how can I reduce the amount of salt in my sweat, and prevent these embarrassing white rings from forming on my clothes? Eating differently, drinking more water, help!

— Salty

The purpose of sweat


What does sweating mean?

No sweat: Could it be anhidrosis?

Dear Alice,

I have a wonderful daughter who is very active and loves to play soccer. The problem for her is that she never seems to sweat and her face turns bright red, which concerns us greatly. She loves to have her face cooled with a cold towel when she comes to the sideline. None of her other teammates seem to have this problem, however, and she seems to be normally hydrated before her games and practices. I've heard of the condition anhidrosis (lack of sweat), but can't seem to find much on this. Can you help?

Thank you.

Roommate with body odor?

Dear Alice,

I am a graduate student. My roommate, also a grad student, has B.O., big-time! She bathes so infrequently, that it takes her almost two months to go through a bar of soap (I'm not kidding)! Given my current relationship with her, I am unable to let her know that she stinks.

This smell is evident in her towels, clothes, and room. At times it also permeates the air of other areas of the apartment that are adjacent and not adjacent to her room. It is so offensive, that I am forced to keep my door closed because the stench from her room finds its way into my room and nauseates me.

My question is: why is it that she does not realize that she has B.O.? Has she grown immune to her own scent? What would possess a 35-year-old woman not to maintain a schedule of regular hygiene? I'm sorry if this letter sounds petty, but you are the only source I can go to and ask otherwise "embarrassing" and "silly" questions.

Living with Pepe Le Pew!

P.S.: I enjoy your "column." Keep it up!

Steam room versus sauna?

Dear Alice,

I am wondering what is the difference between a steam room and the sauna, is one better than the other? My gym has both and I am interested in trying them out.

— Confused

Condom kills erection

Dear Alice,

I care for my girlfriend, whom I have been seeing for a few months now. I have no problem maintaining an erection when she performs oral sex on me. In fact I can climax twice in a relatively short time. We have, however, been unable to actually engage in intercourse, since when we go to put on the condom, I lose my erection. I'm not really having too much of a problem getting erect (i.e., I get an erection, and may lose it early on, but I am able to get and maintain another one for oral sex). What could be the problem? Stress? A lack of physical attraction? I will be grateful for any answer you can provide me.

— Concerned

Condoms in wallets: Safe?

Dear Alice,

I have heard that it is unsafe to keep condoms in wallets, since they can get broken or weak with all the bending the wallet does when you sit down. Is that true?

My girlfriend doesn't want me to wear a condom... but I do


I am a guy, and well, me and my girlfriend want sex, but she says she wants me to not use a condom so I can get the real feeling. But, I don't want a child at my age and at this point. How can I tell her that I want to use condoms?

Do polyurethane condoms protect as well against STIs as latex?

Dear Alice,

Avanti is the make of a condom that is made from polyurethane rather than latex. I prefer this type of condom over latex as they can be thinner and they transmit heat better than latex. Recently the boxes have stickers on them warning that the condoms safety vis a vis HIV transmission is unknown. What's taking them so long? Do you have any inside information on their relative porosity?

— Prefers the Pleasures of Polyurethane

An explanation of contraceptive failure rates

Dear Alice,

When people say that contraceptives, like condoms, have a twelve percent failure rate, do they mean that they result in pregnancy in twelve out of every 100 women who use them? I hope that means that twelve percent of people who use them become pregnant in a year, or something like that. Otherwise, it sounds as risky as Russian roulette to rely on condoms.

Grief over loss of pet


There was a pet that lived at my parents' home since I was a child. He passed away over a year ago, and sometimes I still dream about him. How do I move past his death? Thanks you for your time.

Not ready to talk about loss

Dear Alice,

My father just died. I'm really depressed. I'm not looking for sympathy, so I haven't told any of my friends. I'm not on good terms with my family and that has made the situation all the more difficult. I feel like I need somebody to talk to, but I'm afraid to approach my friends. I know in situations like this people over-compensate by smothering the person with sympathy and attention. What I need is the exact opposite. I need to work this out on my own. Maybe someone that will be there when I want them to be. I'm not looking for the number of a hotline where I will just end up talking to a stranger. Nor do I want to talk to the counselors or any other strangers. You're the first person that I've said anything to about this. Who can I talk to about this?

No where to go

How long does mourning last?

Dear Alice,

I'm sorta new at this, but I'll give it a shot anyway. My dad died of a massive heart attack just over a year ago. I went through a pretty rough mourning period, but it didn't seem to last very long. My mom is still very much in mourning to this day. I guess my question is: How can you tell if you've mourned enough? And how can you tell if you're avoiding it?

They say the worst is over when the pain stops and the good memories start. But how do I know I didn't just skip to the good memories?

— Distressed Lion

Delayed grief after dad's death?

Dear Alice,

I can't stop crying. I haven't cried in months. This morning I was fine and now it's 7:00 at night and I can't stop crying about my dad. He committed suicide five years ago, six in April. What's wrong with me?

— Suddenly Sad.

Grief or depression?

Dear Alice,

What is the difference between grief and major depression? A few months ago, my boyfriend died in a car accident. Lately, I have been very depressed, but I am not sure if it is just part of the normal grief process or if it is depression.

— Crying all the time

What are the long-term effects of birth control pills?


I have searched your archives but have not found an answer to my question, and I was wondering if maybe you could help me out. I was wondering about the effects of taking birth control pills for an extended period of time and how long one can safely take them. Any information/advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

—Looking for answers

Questions about going off of birth control pills

Dear Alice,

I've been taking birth control pills for almost seven years and decided to stop taking them as of my last cycle last week. What kind of changes should I be expecting? How long will it take for my body to get used to not having the hormones? In the past few days, I've been feeling very edgy, tired, and with on and off headaches. Is it true that once you withdraw from birth control pills, you may actually lose a few pounds?

How do birth control pills work?


How do birth control pills work?

— Woman

Taking birth control pills — What counts as the same time every day?

Dear Alice,

I have two questions, first: On my birth control pill box instructions it says to take a pill each day at ABOUT the same time. I was wondering, does this mean that I should set an alarm to make sure I take it the exact minute every day (which is what I've been doing) or can I take it within a couple of hours difference if I decide to sleep in on Saturday?

Secondly: My doctor told me that if I miss a pill to consider myself unprotected for that month. However, after I left I realized that in biology class we learned that a ovum (or egg) can only survive a few days inside the fallopian tubes and uterus and then it get absorbed into the body (or dies). If I missed a pill then wouldn't I only be unprotected for the next couple of days (if an egg was produced in the 24 hr period that I didn't take the pill) instead of the whole month?

Can I reschedule my period?

Dear Alice,

This may seem a ridiculous question, but here goes. I have a trip planned to Hawaii and just realized that during my vacation time, I am scheduled to be on my period. Needless to say, that will definitely slow down my plans for ocean swimming and loads of tropical sex with my boyfriend. Is there a way to safely alter my cycle by missing birth control pills or other means?

— Hawaii-bound

Do I have a UTI? How do I know?

Dear Alice,

For the second time this year, I have had a bout of what I think might be a u-tract infection, but I'm not sure if that's what it is. For about a week now I have had the urgency to urinate hundreds of times throughout the day, and could easily urinate every five minutes without problem. The bothersome thing is that, although I'm not incontinent, it is dripping a little and is therefore very unpleasant and awkward. I'm not experiencing any burning sensation, and I know that I'm not pregnant. Any advice? (I started drinking cranberry juice yesterday, thinking that might help I'm not exactly sure why).

Slightly embarrassed.

Frequent urination

Dear Alice,

I've been having a problem with frequent urination. I mean going every fifteen to twenty minutes some days. I've been treated for urinary tract infections for about two months, but urine cultures show no infection, just traces of blood. I've also had an IVP Kidney X-ray which showed normal kidney function. I have a small fibroid outside my uterus which is pressing on my bladder ever so slightly. Could this be the cause of my frequent urination? I drink plenty of water, stay away from caffeine, chocolate, etc., drink cranberry juice, etc., with no success. I also get up every couple hours during the night. And, I do have a lot of urine, not just a trickle. I have no other problems with my menstrual cycle, etc. On a good day, I can go an hour or hour-and-a-half. Can you give me some advice or where to turn to next? Do I see a urologist or gynecologist? Help, I'm always looking for a bathroom.

Urge to go!

Urinary-yeast infection cycle?

Dear Alice,

I'm really stressed out because I've been getting recurring urinary tract infections coupled with yeast infections for the last six months. I'm not sexually active and I've been to two urologists and a gynecologist — they've all given me medication but the problems always turn up again. Is one problem causing the other? Can these prolonged problems be doing serious damage to my body? Perhaps you can't answer my questions either, but I'm really at my wit's end. What do I do? I'm tired of doctors and embarrassing exams and I can't understand why this is happening if I'm not having sex. Also, I'm a senior and in five weeks I'm out of health insurance — extending my parent's policy is very expensive and not an option. I'm busy trying to set up interviews, finish a thesis, and do a million things — I don't have time to be running around to more doctors' appointments! What insurance options are there for recent graduates?


Desperate for Health Care Options

What's Douching?

Dear Alice,

What's douching?

Recurring kidney stones — Help!

Dear Alice,

I have had twelve kidney stones in the past five years. Every time I pass a stone the doctor tells me to follow a special diet. I follow the diet and still get kidney stones. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

In pain

What are blunts?

Dear Alice,

What are blunts?

Eating marijuana

Dear Alice,

Is it harmful, under any circumstances, to eat marijuana instead of smoking it?

Is it possible to die from a pot overdose?

Dear Alice,

Is it possible to die from a pot overdose?

Alcohol or marijuana: Which is safer?

Dear Alice,

What is, overall, safer for your body: alcohol or marijuana?

Marijuana long-term effects?

Dear Alice,

Does marijuana have any real, lasting effects?


Forgiving myself after being sexually abused

Dear Alice,

I am now 20 years old. When this situation took place, I was 16 or 17. I was living with this family that went to my church, and the lady's husband kept coming on to me. At this time, my parents were divorcing and I was depressed. I was so scared of this man because he was a giant compared to me. He kept asking me if he could touch my thighs. I kept telling him no because it was wrong, but I didn't tell anyone. I wouldn't even eat at night because I was afraid he would try to rape me.

So one day I came home from church a little earlier than the others did. He came in and waited until I got out of the bathroom. He sat me down on a chair and he kept touching me. I was so in shock that I couldn't move. That day he entered me and I didn't push him away, but I was crying and felt sick. Later on that week, he came into the basement where I stayed, and he performed oral sex on me. I felt really bad, but then again I did enjoy it. I felt so confused and cheap because after he was done he left $100.00 on my table. I felt like a slut. Then after a few weeks of him not even looking at me, I decided to talk to him and tell him that I was sorry and that we couldn't do it anymore and that we had to ask God for forgiveness.

My question is was it my fault for being in this situation or is he at fault for taking advantage of me? I have forgiven him, but I still have to work on forgiving myself. To me that is a very hard task because he is one of the elders in the church. What should I do?

I'm sure I was drunk, but I'm not sure if I had sex

Dear Alice,

I was really drunk and don't remember the night clearly, but I think I may have had sex. Now I don't know if I could be pregnant or not. I had never had sex before this. Help me please!

Dinner doesn't equal sex

Dear Alice,

I was looking through your column and thought that I should ask your advice on a rather sensitive matter. I recently invited a guy over for dinner at my house. We had a great time together, yet he presumed that he was going to sleep with me and insisted that I had led him on during the main course of the evening. I do not see how this is possible, but this guy keeps on hassling me for sex and I do not want to lose him as a friend, but I really do not see him as a sexual partner. What should I do?


Information on male rape

1) Dear Alice,

Is male rape possible? Where can I find more information on male rape?

— Floor question

2)Dear Alice,

Why is it that, in all the movies and stuff about sex, it is always the woman who feels pressured? I felt pressured my first time and no one would believe me if I told them. Any comments would be helpful.

—Sensitive guy

Afraid to see rapist

Dear Alice,

I was date raped by a man who I was seeing. I had broken it off with him a month before, but got into a situation where he attacked me. The problem now is he is friends with many of my friends, and he works at a place I must go to frequently. I haven't told my friends because I don't want them to confront him. I haven't seen the man since he raped me and I am afraid to. I know my friends will want to see him, and I know I will eventually run into him. I guess my question is what do I do when I see him? I don't want to talk to him, but I am afraid he will try and talk to me. I am scared of my reaction and don't want to have a freak out in front of my friends (although I know that they would understand). How can I leave this situation behind and resume normal life, not being afraid of seeing him in my everyday life?

Back strain

Dear Alice,

While bending over to pick up a rather heavy box, I felt (and heard) a ripping sound. Much pain ensued and over the course of several hours my back became stiff and painful to the point of being unable to stand fully erect. What happened and should I see a doctor?

— Spineless

Shoulder pain


Four weeks ago, I fell hard on my shoulder, with soreness and limited motion coming on. Two weeks later, I reinjured it again, with same results. It hurt most raising it above my head and trying to turn over in bed. It is better now, but I have a popping noise in it when moving it around. I have more range than before, but still the occasional sharp pain and popping noise.

Please advise.

Thank you,

Prickly feeling feet from standing all day

Dear Alice!

I work ten-hour days, four-days-a-week, standing in one spot. The bottom of my feet feel like a lot of needles are pricking my soles. Could you please tell me what could be causing this? Just started about one month ago.

Sprained ankle

Dear Alice,

What is the best home treatment for an apparently badly sprained ankle?

— Limping

Sore from running—Injury prevention?

Hey Alice,

I've been running at least two miles every day and I find that nothing is wrong with me physically except that at night my Achilles heel is somewhat sore. What do you think the reason is? I stretch enough before exercising and it still hurts. Am I running too much or with too much frequency?

Also, I'm trying to lose some fat or gain some muscle for that matter, and I've lost quite a bit of weight but the last few pounds are a bit difficult to take off. What do you suggest? More aerobic training, low fat diet or strength training?

Achilles heel

Breaking up can be hard to do

Dear Alice,

How do I dump my boyfriend? I have been going out with a guy for over a month and it's just not working, but the problem is I don't know how to dump him.

Please help,

Emergency in Edinburgh

Stay with boyfriend or move on?

Dear Alice,

My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. Living together for two, I have supported us financially pretty much since the beginning of the relationship since he has not had steady work. We enjoy being together most of the time and his work prospects have recently greatly improved. However, I have a male friend (unknown to my boyfriend — he doesn't believe that women should have men as friends) who is attracted to me and I had a brief emotional affair with him (no sex).

Although I know I don't want a serious relationship with my friend, I think about him a lot and I can't achieve orgasm with my boyfriend without thinking about the closeness and warmth I experienced with this other man. My boyfriend and I have had our share of relationship problems and I have tried to break up with him, but somehow I always end up agreeing to try harder to make things work. But even though I don't really want my friend, I can't get him off my mind. I wonder if I do need to break up with my boyfriend!

Getting over divorce pain?

Dear Alice,

I haven't really been able to talk to any girls since my breakup with my ex-wife 6 months ago. We haven't really signed any divorce papers, so I feel very obligated to stay faithful to her even though our relationship as we know it is over and done with. Will I still have this problem even when we actually get divorced? And will I forever feel bad about making the first move to end this relationship? Because for the past three months I could neither sleep or concentrate on my studies. My commitment to her and my love for her was the only thing that helped me to go on with my life. Now that's over I am totally lost. Please help me with my problem.

New Life?

We love each other, but we fight all the time

Dear Alice,

I've never done this before so here it goes.

I've been dating my current boyfriend for about eight months, and we do love each other very much. However, I believe we both want very different things from our relationship, and we fight on a regular basis. We fight about everything from spending time with friends to how we feel we are being treated and so forth.

We have a lot of trouble identifying with each other and being considerate of each other’s needs. Should I move on and accept that we are incompatible, or should we try a new approach?

— confused

Don't love him anymore?

Dear Alice,

I'm having a problem with my boyfriend of five years. I don't think that I love him anymore!!! What should I do?



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