Q: At 68, intercourse had become so painful that I would bleed slightly, even when using lubricants and Replens. Then, after my sister-in-law had a stroke caused by dehydration, I began drinking 60 to 80 ounces of water per day. The bedroom results were dramatic: no pain during intercourse for the first time in years! The increased hydration is the only possible explanation, right?
A: Interesting — and I think you may be correct.
Dehydration, especially in older folks like you and me (I'm 70), is almost universally underdiagnosed. Even though medical experts recommend drinking two quarts of water per day (that's eight 8-ounce glasses), how many people ever show that degree of liquid love?
When I researched possible links between dehydration and vaginal health, I came up dry. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) But I've filed your recommendation in my "Couldn't Hurt" folder of general health advice, so thanks for the tip!
Q: I have no problems with erections (I'm 54), but I want to last longer during intercourse. Is it true an M-Patch can help?
A: Among the many erectile products crowding today's marketplace, most are marginal or fake. The worst have serious side effects.
Unless administered under a doctor's supervision, any product containing testosterone can have severe consequences — including a stroke or heart attack. Toxic levels of testosterone are nothing to shrug off!
So please first see your doctor to find out whether you might be testosterone deficient. (If not, steer clear of any medications containing the hormone.) Then seek the advice of a sex therapist or consult a book on the clinical aspects of male sexuality. Either resource can teach you how to last longer, from using a topical penile cream (which reduces stimulation and thus "slows you down") to practicing the "squeeze technique," which manually retards ejaculation.
Q: Ten years ago, my wife of 33 years had a massive stroke that keeps her from walking, speaking or caring for herself. I love her dearly and will take care of her forever.
Then, six months ago, I met a widow — and fell in love with her. She gets along great with my wife, who responds well to her. This woman and I share the same life values and the same loneliness — for conversation, companionship, activities and sex. How do I introduce her to my three daughters and my wife's family?
A: It's not clear from your letter whether your wife is aware of your new situation. If your wife is mentally incapacitated, your choice to love another person is understandable — and I'm reassured to hear that you remain devoted to your wife's welfare.
But it's a different story if your wife does know what's going on. You have not convinced me that she is reconciled to your new relationship and that the three of you are now just one big happy polygynous family.
I also find it borderline creepy that you would think it's appropriate to introduce your new lady love to your own children, much less to your in-laws. I doubt either group is ready to integrate her into their lives.
Bottom line: Your wife's impairment has inflicted a terrible loss — on her, on you, on your children and her family. But why compound the pain for everyone involved — except, revealingly, yourself — with a public announcement of your new attachment? Whatever you do, take this situation slow; a family rift now will only undermine the caregiving task that must remain your priority for the foreseeable future.
Got a question for Dr. Pepper Schwartz about dating, love, relationships or sex? Send it to TheNakedTruth@aarp.org.