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Here, Ask EROS has anonymously published questions and answers from or "Ask EROS Program" and "Ask EROS-online." Asked by your fellow students, these questions were answered by our very own counselor(s).

» My girlfriend won't let me perform anal sex...
What is the maximum number of fingers...
» I'm 21, she's just 17
» Bad Mistake....
» What about abstinence?

Dear EROS, My girlfriend won’t let me perform anal sex on her. Is there any way to change her mind or convince her that it is not going to permanently affect her anus? Signed, Chris

Dear Chris, Your girlfriend may have heard things from others about pain or discomfort and that may be holding her back. One of the things women often complain about with anal sex is the discomfort of getting past the sphincter muscle. If you’ve ever been constipated, you know how much it can hurt.

One of the first things we would suggest is respecting her decision for now and just agreeing to keep the lines of communication open. You might want to let her try it on you with a sex toy or a gloved finger, and a) see how it feels from your vantage point, and b) let her see if it really does feel good to you, she may be more open to it.

If you get beyond that stage, we would recommend LOTS of lubricant. That can make or break an experience like anal sex. Not enough and she will feel some discomfort.

You might also want to broaden your foreplay area to include the perineum, that patch of skin between the opening to the vagina and the opening to the anus. The perineum can be quite responsive, and if that pleasures her, she may be more open (literally and figuratively) to letting you go farther south.

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Dear EROS, What is the maximum number of fingers one should insert in a woman's vagina without causing any damage (temporary or permanent)? Is it advisable to even insert more than two fingers for the sake of pleasure and stimulation? Signed, Ghetto Boy

Dear Ghetto Boy, We ran this question by a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner, and got this medical answer: It really depends on the woman's comfort level. The vagina is made up of connective tissues, making it slightly expandable. If more than two fingers are used however, lacerations and abrasions may occur, which can lead to infection. As for pleasure and stimulation, be sure your partner really enjoys this type of stimulation. You may want to ask her what she likes or plainly "What feels good?" Every female is different. Some women may receive immense pleasure from one finger, others may want two. The basic idea here is communication. As an added caution, you might also want to use either finger condoms or a latex glove to protect you and your partner from STDS such as HPV (genital warts), Herpes and HIV. Thanks for asking.

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Dear EROS, Is it a problem or a bad unhealthy situation if I'm 21 years old and I'm having a love affair with a 17 year old girl? Signed, A friend of mine told me.

Dear Friend of Mine, As long as you know that sex with someone underage (under the age of 18) is technically illegal and is known as statutory rape. If she or her parents decide to charge you, you could do jail time. Now, in the larger sense, 4 years is not a huge age gap between partners, and it will seem smaller as you get older. But there is a difference in emotional maturity in the teen years. Are you prepared for any consequences you may face? If she gets pregnant, will you be able to support her? If either of you get an STD, will you know what to do? If her parents walk in on you, can you handle it?

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Dear EROS, I recently did something so stupid I am ashamed to even write this. I am in a committed relationship but was stupidly unfaithful recently. I received oral sex without a condom. What are my risks for STDs (not just HIV)? How soon should I be checked? When will I have symptoms, if any? If the person I was with had an STD, and I caught it, how soon before I become contagious to my partner? Is she at risk from day 1? Can I even kiss her? I am going to make an appointment but I could use some peace (or panic) of mind. Thanks, Bad Mistake

Dear Bad Mistake, The risk of transmission of STDs and HIV is always present in any unprotected sexual activity. Whic means in your case, your "committed" partner is at risk from Day 1. You should be checked for HIV and STDs every 6 months whenever you are sexually active and with a partner you are unsure of. After an incident such as you describe, you might want to get checked within 2-3 weeks, when symptoms may begin to show. You may never experience any symptoms, so don't let that be your guide.

It is possible for you to have an STD that is asymptomatic and this is why it is important to get checked. If your partner had an STD and you got it, you could pass it on from Day 1. As to your question "Can I even kiss her" we are assuming you are asking if an STD enters your body at one site (your penis), can it leave at another (your mouth). There are no STDs that are transmitted through saliva, but blood borne STDs can be transmitted through sores in the mouth, so HIV could be a problem, for example.

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Dear EROS, What literature is out there for people who have chosen to be abstinent from sexual intercourse but who DO NOT wish to be NON-sexual individuals. In other words, is there literature available that explains the many ways people can be intimate and sensual (even sexual) without having intercourse. Please exclude all books solely relating to intimate massages... Been There, Done That

Dear Been There, You've asked a hard question. We're not librarians, but we'll give it a shot. "Sexual Etiquette 101...and more" is a great pocketbook, written by college students for college students. It deals with basic nformation about communication, STDS, contraception, sexual assault and the human aspect of sexuality. Contact Bridging the Gap Communications, Inc. at 1 800 721-6990 for a copy.

The best pamphlet we've seen to date about this subject is called "101 ways to Make Love Without Doin' it." It's published by ETR and Associates. Call 1 800 321-4407 for a copy.

Hopefully that will help you get started. But before you run off to a bookstore, let's chat.....

Choosing to be abstinent is a wonderful decision, but be aware that different people set different limits. Communication is therefore very important. Discuss the limits you set with your partner and learn his/her limits. Activities for people who choose to abstain can range from hand holding, hugs, kisses, massages, "dry humping" with clothes on, to making out over the phone, dancing sexy together, watching your partner masturbate. Now let your imagination extend this list. Some people who abstain from intercourse may choose to have "outercourse." This might include sexual activities which do not involve penetration, such as oral sex, masturbating your partner, and sex between the thighs.

Please remember, being intimate isn't the only way to let the person close to you know you care. Saying "I love you" or spending time together is the number one way to care.

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