Queen of Hearts 

Kiwi cooties; do the tighten up

Dear Carol,
I spotted an interesting word in one of your past columns. The word was "cooties." My thirteen-year-old daughter has been using this word recently. She says that girls under eight (or pre-pubescent) and all boys can catch "cooties," but that girls over eight (or post-pubescent) cannot, No way, not ever catch "cooties."

Could you please enlighten me as to what "cooties" are?

We are in New Zealand, so your use of the word was intriguing. My daughter has never been able to give me a description as to what "cooties" are, apart from her statement about boys/girls above. The word must be global, or there could be differences in understanding. I told her recently that I had seen "cooties" used, and she was very surprised that it is a "real" word. --Chris

Dear Chris,
This is my first indication that cooties have gone global, but I'm not surprised. The phenomenon they describe may indeed be found around the world, and now that kids from all over can chat via the Internet, their slang is bound to cross borders. To my knowledge the use of this word by kids to describe something they can "catch" is an American invention, and "cooties" was originally a slang term for lice. This is not what your daughter is speaking of, however. Maybe kids some generations ago really meant lice when they said if you ate lunch with so-and-so, you'd catch cooties--but today (and even in my time, a generation ago and then some) kids using the word "cooties" are referring to that ineffable ickiness possessed by the gender that they are not. Sure, some substantial percentage of these kids will soon start falling in love with the kids they're shunning now--but cooties are a preadolescent phenomenon. I think most children, asked for an actual definition of the word, wouldn't be able to give you one--the term has moved from slang into a conceptual tool for kids to separate sheep from goats, and at that age one of the main types of separation is boy/girl. The age distinction is a new one for me, maybe reflecting a uniquely Kiwi spin, maybe not.

Dear Ms. Queen,
Ever since my boyfriend and I first met, we have had difficulties in bed because we are not "the same size." He is rather on the small side, although perfectly adequate as far as I am concerned, and I am on the "large" side in terms of the size of my vagina. I also tend to be over-lubricated. My boyfriend claims that he has almost no sensation at all when we are having sex, and as you can imagine, this is quite traumatic for both of us. I have read that the only way to achieve a tighter feeling during intercourse is to strengthen one's pc muscle. Is this true? Are there other alternatives? And does one need a kegelcisor device in order to do kegel exercises? Any advice would be appreciated. --La Marquise

Dear Marquise,
The most effective and least invasive way to achieve greater vaginal tightness is indeed pc exercises, and you don't need an expensive kegelcisor to do them--though the kegelcisor is very nice, and doubles as a pretty fabulous g-spot toy. You can use anything at all as a resistive device in the vagina--a dildo, a finger, a carrot--and you don't really even need such a device at all; you can simply squeeze down on those muscles, relax, and repeat over and over. If you regularly read this column you'll already know that the muscle to tighten is the one that you use to stop a stream of urine, and that if you do your exercises, the quality of your orgasms is also likely to improve. So get with it!

You might also consider the following: certain intercourse positions may make your vagina feel tighter to him. One to try is you on your back, legs not apart but together, with him on top. You can work in a little thigh muscle action that way--just squeeze. Also, your lubrication may be more copious at some times of the month; try to keep track, and see whether he notices a difference during those times that you're a little less wet. Antihistamines (and pot) may make your lubriciousness dry out a little; I'm not going to tell you to use either chemical for this purpose, but if you happen to be smoking or medicating your allergies, you might be noticeably less slippery. Of course anal sex, if you like it, is an option. I've also seen penis sleeve-style sex toys that are designed to fit over a penis and add some size; I don't think this is an optimal solution, but it might be worth trying once to see how it works. In this case you'd get something that would fit over him and give him stimulation during intercourse, and you would notice more size on your end, too. The biggest problem here: there'd be more than just a condom's width of rubber between you and your partner. Finally, some women in your position opt for a surgical tightening of the vagina. I never recommend this--I think most people would like to keep as many of their own nerve endings as possible, and with invasive methods like genital surgery there is always the possibility that you won't be happy, sensation-wise, with the results. And certainly you wouldn't want to undergo such a procedure unless you were quite certain you have a life partner on your hands, not just Mr. Right Now.

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