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SEXUAL HEALTH: The Sex Doctor; DR Catherine Hood is here to answer your most intimate sexual problems.

Byline: DR Catherine Hood

I LOVE FEET WITH ALL OF MY SOLE!

DEAR DR CATH,

I HAVE a foot fetish. I just adore women's feet and long to rub, kiss and lick them. Are there any websites which cater for this tendency? Or even a site which could put me in contact with ladies who like having their feet pampered.

WELL you aren't alone in this one. The foot fetish is probably the most common of all sexual fixations with a part of the human body. It's not fully known why this fetish is so common but it may be partly due to the feet having sweat glands, similar to the armpits, that release sexually-arousing pheremones into the surrounding air.

Foot fetishists enjoy kissing, licking and caressing their lovers' feet before, during and after sex. Some like well-manicured, dainty feet - others go for smelly feet with calluses. And this fetish is common in all sectors of society - straight, gay, male or female.

Naturally the foot fetish overlaps with the shoe fetish. Shoes contain the desired objects but are also a symbol of power and domination.

Most will have an idea of the shoes they prefer. No prizes for guessing women's high-heeled shoes are a particular favourite, although motorcycle boots, loafers and trainers can be lusted after too. Additional attraction comes from the material the shoe is made from - like leather or plastic.

Another fetish that goes hand in hand, or sole in sole, with the foot fetish is a fixation on hosiery, particularly stockings. These not only bind and mould the foot into an alluring shape but they also trap the sweat and smell of the feet producing a heady aroma.

The foot fetish often has overtones of power play. It's not unusual for individuals to want to be trampled or crushed...to submit in some way to the power of their love'sfeet.

Most fetishes are harmless and it's fun to indulge them. Sometimes a fetish can go that bit too far and become an obsession that constantly occupies a person's thoughts and so start to dictate their life. This can be very destructive to the individual and make it hard for them to form relationships. If this strikes a cord with you then therapy can help. So can www.basrt.org.uk.

But if you feel in control of your desires then there are loads of websites that can help satisfy your cravings. Among the best I know are www.womanworship.co.uk and www.inthefeetofthenight.com - or try www.footfetishdirectory.com for more links.

My man slept with hookers

DEAR DR CATH,

A FEW weeks ago my boy- friend revealed he's paid for sex in the past. I've told him he can't sleep with me until he's had an Aids test, but I'm not sure I can trust him not to see prostitutes again.

I HATE to tell you, but there are many men who have visited prostitutes. Without knowing the full circumstances, I think you're being a bit hard on your boyfriend. It's something he did in the past, not something he's considering now. He could have kept his past to himself, but chose to be honest with you.

I appreciate your concern about sexual infections and a check-up at a clinic might be a good idea for both of you. But many sex workers are very careful about infections - their sexual function is their livelihood after all - and his chances of having picked up an infection will depend on whether he used a condom.

For more information see www.fpa.org.uk

I really fancy a girl at work

DEAR DR CATH,

I AM 29 and really fancy this girl who works with me. She's 23 and we joke at work and text each other when we go home. I am afraid to reveal my true feelings as it would be very difficult to carry on working.

STARTING relationships at work is always a bit of a risk.

You obviously have a great relationship with this woman. The question you want to know is whether it could be anything more. Pluck up your courage and ask her out on a date. You don't have to declare undying love. Once you're out you should get a feel for whether anything more than friendship is on the cards.

Share your concerns about a relationship at work. If it looks like it's going nowhere, end it quickly. You may have to suffer a few awkward weeks at work, but that's no worse than the torture you're putting yourself through now dreaming of what could be.

Pleasure principles

DEAR DR CATH,

I AM 35 and have never had an orgasm. I feel it makes me a failure. I told my boyfriend that I'd been faking orgasm since we got together four years ago. He's found it difficult to come to terms with my failings. Can you tell me how I can have an orgasm or how to let my boyfriend know I enjoy sex with him regardless?

LET'S get one thing straight - you're not a failure. It's estimated one in 10 women never reach orgasm. The most common reason is that she isn't being stimulated adequately. The best way to find out what works for you is to learn to pleasure yourself. Find the time to relax and get to know your body. If you have success, incorporate the same kind of stimulation into your love-making.

Relationship problems and stress can inhibit the orgasmic reflex, but there is rarely a physical health reason for the problem. You were extremely brave to be so honest with your boyfriend. It's important he realises that this is not a reflection of his ability as a lover nor a sign of your love for him fading. You can find help at www.basrt.org.uk or through Relate at www.relate.org.uk

Listen to daughter

DEAR DR CATH,

I'M 45 and split up with my husband four years ago. Now I've met a man I really like, my daughter has given me a lecture about condoms and said I should be worried about infections. Is there much risk at my age?

SEXUAL infections are on the increase in women of your age and there's even a suggestion you may be more susceptible to catching one than your daughter. In the last eight years the number of chlamydia cases in women of 45 to 64 has risen by 177 per cent and gonorrhoea is up 249 per cent. And women over 40 now account for seven per cent of new HIV infections.

Hormone changes with the menopause can make the vaginal lining more fragile. The friction of sex is more likely to cause tears which make it easier for an infection to take hold. Use condoms - you may not have to think of pregnancy, but you can't be complacent. For more info see www.fpa.org.uk

DEAR DR CATH,

I AM 50 and worried about the size of my penis. A few women have said in the past that I'm quite big but as I've got older I think my penis has got smaller. It's about 6.5in erect.

PENIS size is a common concern for men. From where they stand they can't appreciate the full length of their own penis because looking down the stomach gets in the way. And if that isn't bad enough, as you age the skin around the base of the penis gets slacker and the belly starts to protrude enhancing the impression that the penis is shrinking. Surveys show the average length of an erect penis is just over 6in. All in all, you measure up quite well.

ISSUE OF THE WEEK: IMPOTENCE

BEAT THE FLOP

ABOUT 2.3 million men in the UK suffer from erectile dysfunction and despite the high-profile launch of new treatments many are still too embarrassed to get help.

HOW COMMON IS IT?

ERECTILE dysfunction affects at least one in 10 men in the UK. Problems can start in men as young as 40 and get worse.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

IT used to be said that most erection problems were all in the mind, but the majority of cases have a physical cause such as problems with the blood vessels or nerves to the penis, hormonal imbalances and drug side- effects. Psychological causes may include anxiety, relationship stresses or negative thoughts about sex. The problem is made worse by smoking and alcohol.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

YOU may think sex gets less important as you get older, but that's not necessarily true. It is often fundamental to how a man feels about himself. And while affection can be demonstrated by gestures other than intercourse, it's often important for couples to retain that sense of togetherness that comes from sex. Erectile failure can result in guilt and blame - which can be destructive.

TREATMENT

THERE are a variety of treatments available, depending on the underlying cause of the problem. Counselling can help couples to overcome psychological barriers, and mechanical devices or drug treatment can help a man sustain an erection. Most sufferers may need a combination of approaches - and it's important their partner is taken into account. If the couple haven't had sex for a while the partner may have difficulties incorporating sex back into their life.

Need help? Write to Dr Cath c/o The Sex Doctor, Sunday Mirror Features, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP or email her at drcath@sundaymirror.co.uk Sorry, she cannot reply personally

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High heels are top for shoe fetishes; Sufferers can feel a failure..
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 20, 2005
Words:1602
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