Themes of the Week

What's ''69''?

Dear Alice,

What does the term "sixty-nine" refer to?

— Sexually Experienced But Illiterate

What's fisting?

Dear Alice,

I have a question. My friends often make jokes about something called "fisting." I feel really left out when they joke about it, so could you please tell me what fisting is?! Thanks a lot.

Just wondering

Nutritional value in a serving of semen

Hi Alice,

Today a girlfriend and I were discussing the nutritional value of sperm. While performing oral sex, if you swallow, I was told that it is very high in protein. However, I was also informed that it is very high in calories. This may seem like a weird question, but I would like to know what nutritional benefits are involved when "swallowing" and how many approximate calories are in a man's ejaculation? Thank you for your help in this matter.


Sex therapy and insurance coverage

Hi Alice,

I think you are doing a great job in answering people's concerns and questions about sex. I am wondering if sex therapy will be covered by an insurance policy. (This might be insurance related questions.) I just want you to throw some light on this. I want to seek some medical help for my quick ejaculation.

—Sick of Quickies

What's Douching?

Dear Alice,

What's douching?

How do I do a testicular self-exam?

Dear Alice,

In my biology class, we were in our reproduction chapter and we talked about doing self-checks for prostate health. The teacher said if you don't know how to do one, ask your dad. I am too embarrassed to ask, so could you tell me?

Need help

What's the deal with ovarian cysts?

1) Dear Alice,

What are ovarian cysts? What do they feel like, and where would one feel the symptoms?

— Bumpy

2) Dear Alice,

I just found out that I have a small cyst on my left ovary. I was wondering what causes these? Any risks with them? The doctor told me that they usually pass during a monthly period but I've been having this pain for several months already. Any advice? I haven't seen my GYN about this yet.


3) Dear Alice,

Both me and my husband are at Columbia University. I was recently diagnosed with ovarian functional cysts that are about one inch long each, in both ovaries. We are starting to think about having a baby. Do you think that having those cysts in my ovaries would decrease my chances of becoming pregnant? Thank you very much for your response.

Prostate problems—Enlargement and cancer?

Dear Alice,

What can you tell me about prostate problems? I ask for no specific reason, only that I (a young male) notice that a lot of older males suffer from either prostate cancer or enlargement. I suppose what I really want to know is this: Are there things I can be doing now (diet, etc.) to help prevent this down the road? I once heard somebody mentioning avoiding coffee for this reason. Is there truth to that?

— Thinking ahead

What are the health effects of only having one ovary?

Dear Alice,

I'm a 19-year-old female. I had my right ovary removed (oophorectomy) three years ago due to a very large ovarian cyst. I was assured by my gynecologist that I'm still capable of bearing children but wasn't informed thoroughly of all of the pros and cons in regards to this type of operation (e.g., can the estrogen loss have any negative physical affects?). If you could shed some light on this matter, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

— Desperate

Will holding your pee damage your prostate?

Dear Alice,

Is it true if a guy holds his urine too long it can damage the prostate and make it harder if not impossible to have boners or be aroused?

I watch too many movies

Roommate attempted suicide, now wants to move back in

Dear Alice,

My roommate attempted suicide and I found her in the bathroom. She wants to come back to school next semester but I don't think she is better even though she has recieved professional help. How can I ever trust her again and feel comfortable? I am scared constantly at being alone with her. What do I do? How can I tell her about my fears?

— Scared

Will I be hospitalized for being depressed?

Dear Alice,

Sometimes I feel like I don't want to live anymore. I know in my heart that I would never kill myself. Sometimes I just feel unhappy. I am at college and would like to speak to someone, but I am scared that they would make me go to the hospital. I don't want to do that, but I just need to talk. Do you think if I mentioned this, they would hospitalize me?

Support after a suicide on campus

Dear Alice,

How can students get support after a suicide on campus?

Feeling suicidal... Help!

Dear Alice,

What do you do if you feel suicidal and don't have anyone to tell?

Friend is depressed—How to help?

Dear Alice,

I am actually asking for a friend of mine since this situation is getting worse, and I don't know how to help. The problem is that my friend is very depressed, and has very, very low self-esteem. While sometimes able to be cheerful and "happy," he claims to rarely feel that way and mostly just hates himself. He has mentioned suicide, although I think this is more an expression of the extreme self-hatred he feels than anything. I comfort him and often tell him how wonderful he is — what a good person, good qualities, etc., but I suspect he does not believe me at all. This has been going on for a long time now, and I think it stems from a somewhat unhappy childhood and adolescence. I don't know how to help him and I don't know what to do. I feel like being strong for him is just not enough, and I can't quite convince him that counseling may do some good. It seems to me that, recently, he has been feeling even worse about himself, to the point where nothing will comfort him. He cannot afford counseling, and he has no health insurance. Is there anything you can suggest for me to tell him or suggest to him? Any help will be greatly appreciated, because I just don't how to help him. Thank you so much.

— A friend on-the-line

Stress at the start of school

Dear Alice,

How can I reduce stress as school begins?

Scared about graduation

Dear Alice,

I'm supposed to be graduating this spring and I am totally freaking out. This summer, I formulated a plan for what I want to do when I graduate (e.g., job, grad school, etc.) but now I don't know what I want to do. I feel like my life is moving too fast. I don't want to grow up! Is it normal to feel this nervous? I almost feel like I might just die because I can't picture the future at all.

Scared Senior

Starting college at 30 — Coping with stress?

Dear Alice,

How much more stressful is college on a non-traditional student, and what are some good ways to deal with college stress at 30?

No time for a social life!

Dear Alice,

I am a 22-year-old male grad student, now starting my second semester at in graduate school. I have been doing very well academically, but my studies and my work-study job leave me absolutely no time for a social life! I have not been on a date since I got here; though I meet a lot of interesting people, and am in the habit of collecting their phone numbers. However, I can never seem to find any time to spend with them. Sometimes this really depresses me. I have noticed that I have lately been smoking much more heavily than I used to.

Always in a rush to get something done

Adjusting sleep schedules when going back to school

Hi Alice,

As we begin to think about the next school year, I was wondering about what advice you have about adjusting from the summer late nights, late mornings back to VERY early mornings? Please give me any tips or tricks you may know to help ease the adjustment for thousands of kids across the country with the trauma of going back to school. Thank you.

— D

Marijuana addiction?

Dear Alice,

For people who are addicted to smoking marijuana, is it a physical or psychological addiction?

— Weed wacker

Drinking addiction: Psychological or physical?

Dear Alice,

Is alcoholism an habitual addiction or can it also be a chemical one? I have heard that it is not chemical, but have lived with people who needed the alcohol every night.

Healthy Drinker?

Compulsively watching porn — addiction?

Dear Alice,

My boyfriend of two years and I are rarely having sex. About once a month, down from twice a week. I have discovered that he is very involved in reading porn mags and also looking at porn online. I confronted him, he said he would try to focus more on me, not porn. Then I found that nothing changed and he was still looking at porn. He told me that he believes that he is addicted to porn. He says that he keeps telling himself not to look at it, but always does. He threw all his porn in the garbage and told me to put a site blocker on his computer. My questions: Can he really be addicted to porn? Are the steps that we have taken to control this problem sufficient? I don't know where to go to get help with this and I am really torn apart. Please tell me where to go from here.


focus on us

Help for gambling addiction

Dear Alice,

Do you know of any sites that deal with gambling addictions? My boyfriend's mother is very addicted and needs serious help. She just recently refinanced the house that we are to live in when we're married. I'm scared one day we'll come home and everything will be gone. If you can give me some info that can help that would be great. Or if you know some sites, it would help, too.



Reaching out for help with substance abuse


I have a huge dilemma. I have an addiction to a certain drug that has turned my life upside down. That drug is crack cocaine. The worst part about it is that nobody knows this but me. Nobody knows that right now, my life is on the brink. How do you express this problem to people who don't even have a clue as to what you are dealing with? How do you reach out to the people who you love and trust when you are so ashamed of the truth? One thing that I do know is that I'd better do something fast because if I don't, I will lose my fight with life. HELP!!

Allergic to one vaccine, allergic to all?

Dear Alice,

If I had a serious allergic reaction to the meningitis vaccine, will I be allergic to the flu shot?

Cut by rusty metal! Do I need a tetanus shot?

Dear Alice,

If you step on a nail and have not had a tetanus shot in the last five years, how soon should a person be vaccinated? 24 hours? 48 hours?

Should I get a flu shot?

Dear Alice,

Since winter is approaching soon and it is the time for sniffles and sneezing, what do you think about getting a FLU SHOT as an ounce of prevention?

— Achoo, cough, cough

Afraid of shots

Dear Alice,

I am really afraid of shots. What should I do? I feel really embarrassed asking this. HELP!

HPV vaccine for genital warts and cervical cancer

Dear Alice,

I recently began hearing rumors about an HPV vaccine in the works. Do you know anything about the HPV vaccines being tested and when they might be available? Also, will the vaccines cure HPV or just prevent it? Thanks in advance.


Friend's mother has cancer — What should I say or do?

Dear Alice,

The mother of one of my best friends from high school was diagnosed with liver cancer a few months ago. She is quite ill and in a lot of pain. She's been in and out of the hospital lately and things don't look so good. My own father was diagnosed with prostate cancer a year and a half ago, but he is really doing quite well (with medication, treatment, etc.). My friend's mother will probably be dead within six months to a year, so I'm not going through an immediate crisis.

My question is: What things should (and shouldn't) I be saying to, and doing for, my friend? I try so hard to be there for her but I really don't know what she's going through. She is very matter-of-fact about the fact that her mom is going to die. But I'm sure there's something I could be doing, isn't there? I hate feeling like I'm actually making her feel worse! Could you give me some idea of what she might be going through right now and how I could help? Even if it's a method for taking her mind off it occasionally (if that's a good idea).

Just Trying to Help

Friends with your ex?

Hello Alice.

I have to ask you a question. I am having a debate with someone as to why your ex cannot be your friend. I'm having a little trouble finding the answer. I need help. So my question is... why is it that you can't be friends with your ex?

Friends are double dosing: Marijuana and Prozac

Dear Alice,

I have two friends who were recently diagnosed with depression. They were both prescribed Prozac by their respective doctors. Both of them are heavy marijuana users and both failed to mention that to their doctors. One has been on Prozac for two months and the other for six weeks. I have noticed that their behavior has become strange: mood swings, paranoia, oversleeping, fatigue. They continue taking their Prozac (20 mg a day) and continue smoking pot. I am afraid that there might be some negative interaction between the substances, one being an antidepressant and the other a depressant. Can you provide some insight?

— Concerned Friend

My friends keep dumping their problems on me!

Dear Alice,

I'm the peacemaker among my friends, the introverted listener. But lately I find myself dealing with my friends and their problems more than ever. The problems drift from abuse in their homes, relationship problems, suicide, and MORE! It seems like I'm walking around with the weight of the world on my shoulders — literally, and its making me dive headfirst into depression. Don't get me wrong, I like being trusted and thought wise for advice I give, but sometimes I know I'm just being used, and all I need to do is listen. But I also feel helpless towards many of the situations, example, drug abuse or violence in their homes. They're expecting my help most of the time! I can't suggest counselors, because it's un-thought of here, my friends usually have been to more than their fair share in their years, and it flat out doesn't work. Our school counselors are bogus, teachers really don't listen, and I'm a small girl who can't necessarily take on the world!! On top of trying to help friends of mine (close and not-to-close) I've got my own problems too! It's insane.

— The Shining Knight in Armor - NOT!

Making friends when I have low self-esteem

Dear Alice,

Your advice to "Surround yourself with positive, healthy people" is good. But this is part of my insecurities. It seems that everyone will want to surround themselves with positive, healthy people; but if I'm not healthy mentally, why should people want to be around me? I fear I'm excluded because, even when I try to hide my insecurities, they still show and people don't want to be around a "downer." Any advice on this aspect?

Acne below the belt

Dear Alice,

For a number of years I have had acne from waist down. I can't find any information on it except for acne of the face and back. I'm embarrassed to wear shorts in the summer. Any suggestions?

Microdermabrasion for stubborn acne

Dear Alice,

I am a 21-year-old woman who has been dealing with acne for over ten years now. I have used almost every OTC and quite a few prescriptions that are available. Every time I find something that works it only last for ten to 14 months and then quits completely. I was wondering if maybe microdermabrasion would work? I don't know what it is though and have heard that it is pretty pricey. Or are there other procedures available? It is hard for me to deal with my acne because I am usually the only woman on most construction sites and don't wear makeup to work because it would only cause more acne. I would really appreciate any help or information you can send out.


How can I have acne at thirty?!?


I am a thirty-year-old woman. Recently I have experienced terrible acne on my chest, neck, upper back, and face. No matter what I do, the problem will not go away. Could it be serious? What should I do?

What is a sebaceous cyst?

Dear Alice,

What exactly is a sebaceous cyst? What causes it and how do you get rid of them?

Will omega-3 supplements help clear up acne?

Dear Alice,

I am 21 and have had consistent acne. I have tried topical creams (benzoyl peroxide, Retin-A, and topical antibiotics; as well as oral antibiotics for a number of months before). But, the acne keeps coming back.

For acne, does taking omega-3 fish oil supplements help? If so, how does it help, for what length of time should it be taken, and how many milligrams should one take?

Hepatitis B lowdown

Dear Alice,

Just wondering what you could tell me about Hepatitis B. My mother was just recently diagnosed with it, so I'd like some more information about what it is, what it does, who gets it, and the like.

— Curious

Treatment for Hepatitis C and complications

Dear Alice,

My brother has Hepatitis C. He is having problems with water retention and has holes in his kidneys. How should HCV be treated and how should the damage to his body be treated? Can we protect ourselves? Need help.


How often should you get the Hep B vaccine?

Dear Alice,

My adopted son has hepatitis B and D. My family had been vaccinated (Heptavax) prior to the adoption. I have received contradictory information on how often we must be administered the six month, three-shot series of Heptavax vaccinations: I've heard both every five years and every ten years. Can you tell me which — if either — is accurate?

Dad of 3

Chronic Hep B carrier?

Dear Alice,

Though I have read the answers on Hep B, I still do have some questions about it. I have a friend who discovered that she is a hepatitis B virus carrier when she went for a blood donation.

What are the risks subjected to my friend? Does it mean that she cannot enjoy a normal sexual life and cannot even kiss? Will her partner be 100 percent immune to Hep B if he gets a Hep B immunization?

Can I get sick from eating raw seafood?

Dear Alice,

I love sushi, sashimi, and oysters on the half shell. I apparently am uneducated (ignorant) when it comes to the health risks associated with eating raw seafood. I read in an article that a person could contract hepatitis A and worms. Is hepatitis A something that is "curable"? Are ANY of the diseases/problems associated with eating raw fish NOT "curable?"

Wisdom teeth — Must I get them removed?

Dear Alice,

Do my wisdom theeth really need to be removed? Please explain situations in which they must be to avoid health risks. The standard operation I was told about seemed to include more "temporary" damage than what it is supposed to prevent. My parents have not had their wisdom teeth removed. They are both fine and have not had any problems. How much of a risk do I have from not have them removed and becoming one of those "crazy convicing" stories? I am 90% unconvinced. I need proof, not "off the top of doc's head" stories.

How does methamphetamine use cause painful mouth sores to form?

Dear Alice,

First things first, I love your website. I really like the format and especially love getting Alice in my e-mail box! My question is regarding smoking ice (methamphetamine). Sometimes, but not always, after I've smoked a lot, I get white sores on my tongue, especially, but all over in my mouth. I have a theory about this, and I'd appreciate any info you could supply. I think it is a sort of chemical burn from the iodine in the ice. I know it makes you get dehydrated, and I think this is part of why it burns (if it is a burn). You don't have normal amounts of saliva to naturally flush things out of your mouth. I also think that's a contributing factor in why it is so damaging to the teeth. I'm sorry, I'm babbling. My mouth is in so much pain! It looks like little patches of something growing and is especially bad where my tongue rubs against the back of my molars. Thanks in advance for the help!

Clean mouth = good health?

Dear Alice,

What's the connection between a clean or healthy mouth and good health? I keep seeing these ads and commercials saying that there is a link — what exactly is it?

Pop versus coffee

Dear Alice,

I was having a conversation with my roommates about pop and coffee and we were wondering which is worse for your teeth, the pop or the coffee? And what do they do to your teeth when you drink them?

What should I look for in mouthwash?

Dear Alice,

I've been trying to take better care of my teeth lately (as a general health thing, not because my dentist says I'm in trouble or anything) and so I started using mouthwash after I brush. But I'm confused about what it actually does. If I get a kind with lots of alcohol (which bothers me) it seems like it's supposed to kill germs and keep bad breath away. But in the alcohol-free ones, there's a huge variety: freshening, fluoride, anti-plaque... What is the point of mouthwash supposed to be? What should I be looking for?

curious mouthwasher

Can’t find information on the site about your health concern or issue?