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Your Problems: Miriam Stoppard's Advice Column.

Byline: Miriam Stoppard

I hide my breasts from boyfriend

LETTER OF THE DAY

I'M 19 and feel very depressed as I have inverted nipples. I bought some breast shells to correct the inversion but it didn't help.

My self-confidence is plummeting. I'm obsessed with my breasts and examine them daily hoping to find some improvement.

I'm desperate to find a solution as I've been with my boyfriend just over a year and he still hasn't seen me naked. I think he's finding it strange. Do I have any hope of ever looking like a proper woman?

I WAS very sorry to hear how upset you are and even sorrier to hear that it's affecting your relationship.

But inverted nipples are so common they can be thought of as a variation of the norm. Nipples become inverted because the milk ducts that tether the nipple are too short.

Gentle, sustained suction stretches

the ducts and allows the nipple to come out and I wonder whether you used the shells correctly. They should be worn under your bra.

Wear them for a few hours at first, building up to several hours each day. Made of plastic or glass, they have a hole in them through which the nipple is gently pulled by suction. It isn't painful.

If your breasts don't respond you may find that surgery is the most helpful solution, and it may be obtainable under the NHS.

Some doctors recognise that younger women, many of whom are painfully embarrassed by this condition, can benefit and find psychological relief from surgery.

However, it's vital that you are made aware that surgical intervention could make breastfeeding more difficult than normal, and if the milk ducts are cut then breastfeeding will become an impossibility. The operation can be done under local anaesthetic and requires only a few hours in hospital.

During the operation the surgeon pulls the nipple and, while it's under tension, simply makes an incision around the nipple and into the tissue that's holding the nipple down. Cutting this tissue will allow the nipple to protrude.

You should be able to return to work two or three days after the operation and your stitches will be taken out two weeks later.

That said, I hope you'll relax enough to let your boyfriend see your breasts. You've been together over a year and he's infinitely patient.

I can't believe he will suddenly go off you after seeing your nipples. Doesn't he deserve the benefit of the doubt? Give him the chance to prove that his feelings for you go further than this.

Bothered by blemish

I'M a middle-aged woman and have a problem with thick, coarse hairs growing from moles on my face.

I would like to know how I can get rid of the hairs.

I have thought of consulting my GP but this problem seems trivial and it doesn't affect my health.

What should I do?

ELECTROLYSIS will remove any hair, of course, but hairy moles can only be treated with the supervision of a doctor.

This is because moles may be pigmented and great care must be taken with anything brown in the skin.

An electrolysis treatment involves inserting a sterile probe - the same size as the hair - into the hair follicle down to the dermal papilla.

The dermal papilla is the electrologist's target. It's the part of the follicle that contains blood and nerves and feeds the growing hair.

If the papilla and the regenerative cells surrounding it are destroyed, the hair will die.

When the probe is in place, a low-level electrical current is applied that will destroy the papilla and surrounding cells and loosen the hair in the follicle. The hair is then removed.

Hair removal can be done on the hairline, eyebrows, ear, top of the nose, cheeks, sideburn area, upper and lower lip, chin, throat, neck, shoulders, back, chest, breasts, abdomen, arms, legs, bikini line, hands, feet, toes and fingers.

I'd get a dermatologist to look at your moles.

I can't find Mr Right

I'M 26 and have my own house and a great job.

I was dating a man for five years when he dumped me. Part of me will always love him and part will always hate him for leaving me like he did.

I get chatted up by men all the time but the next day I don't want them.

I'm looking for someone to be there for me but he's never right, there's always something about him I don't like. What's wrong with me?

I DON'T blame you for being picky. Sharing one's life with a man is a huge step to take.

But is there a chance you're creating obstacles between you and conjugal bliss. Could the real reason for your lack of success be your own fears?

Why, you may ask, should this be? Number one, your previous lover dumped you and if you were inwardly scared of being dumped again, nobody would blame you.

I can't help but feel that, despite wanting a relationship on the surface, deep down you aren't ready. You haven't really got your old boyfriend out of your system and, until you do, you won't be able to move on.

Don't make finding a man the be-all-and-end-all of your existence. Concentrate on enjoying the life you're lucky to have. When you're emotionally ready to commit yourself again, the right man will come along - but these things can't be rushed.

YOU published a letter about tamoxifen and I thought your readers would like to know my experience.

I found a lump 10 years ago and was operated on quickly. I had a full mastectomy, some lymph glands removed and have recovered well.

I was on tamoxifen for seven years but I'm still getting hot sweats.

I had already gone through the menopause before the operation, and there's no comparison between the menopause and the sweats I get now. Do you have any views?

TAMOXIFEN is a complicated drug. It has both oestrogenic and anti-oestrogenic powers.

But it's the powerful anti-oestrogen action that makes it so effective against breast cancer. This effect is so powerful it will bring on the menopause in a pre-menopausal woman.

Tamoxifen works by blocking oestrogen receptors in the breast. It has fewer adverse effects than most anti-cancer drugs but may cause hot flushes, nausea, vomiting, swollen ankles and irregular vaginal bleeding and this is because of its dual effect.

Hot flushes, in particular, are because of its anti-oestrogen effect.

In evaluating the risk/ benefit ratio of a drug, a doctor has to weigh the therapeutic benefit against possible side effects. Tamoxifen has huge benefits which far outweigh its side effects, even though some of them are a great nuisance.

Wrong time for Gerry's fling

I KNOW Gerry's very near the end of her tether but what a time to choose to go to bed with an old flame.

She said to herself that she didn't care as she threw caution to the wind. Care about what? Andy? About marriage?

So far, so understandable.

But did she think of her children? What a stupid thing to do if, as she professes, she cares so much for them. She's not a unilateral operator. She has a family. How could she contemplate such a wilful act at a time when they're so vulnerable, if she truly loves them?

Her action can be construed in only one way - as selfish and self-absorbed. Not particularly creditable in a judge's eyes if you're seeking custody of the children and hope to present yourself as a responsible, trustworthy and loving guardian to them.

The rule is that, with a divorce pending, you keep your nose clean. Your behaviour and your relationships have to be unimpeachable, beyond reproach. Now that Andy appears to have uncovered her infidelity and is using the children as leverage, I'd suggest Gerry tells him to go ahead and tell the children what she's done.

I just know they'll back her. Why? In the throes of a divorce, children worry terribly about the wellbeing of their parents, particularly their mother.

If they hear she has a boyfriend, they'll be relieved. They'll be relieved because it's one less thing for them to worry about. They won't turn away.

And children aren't stupid. They have a very well developed sense of justice. They instinctively know a malicious action when they see one and they'll come to see Andy for what he is - a man taking revenge on their mother.

It may take months, even years, but eventually they'll choose to be with Gerry. So, as long as she has a cool head and a steady nerve, In fact, I'd get in before Andy and tell the children myself.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 17, 2001
Words:1452
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