James Connor can answer all your questions on gay relationships, sex, health and love. James is founder of the website www.freshsx.com and his new DVD label has just released it's first movie featuring James in action. It's available now from the OutUK online store ShopGay. The opinions he gives in Ask James are based on his experiences as a gay man who enjoys all aspects of love and sex. He's not a qualified doctor, trained counsellor or therapist but his advice is like that of a close friend. The Ask James Archive has loads of questions and answers featured in previous editions of the column.

This Week - Late puberty, Taking viagra and About my gay dreams

Ash asks: Hi James, I'm 26 and I still haven't gone through puberty. Whats wrong with me? I am now very shy and very worried.

James says: Hi there. Puberty is the period when you become sexually mature and this normally happens in boys around the age of 12. At this time there are various changes in the body including growth of the testicles and penis as well as hair growing in the pubic area and under the armpits. Your voice also becomes deeper, your muscles grow and acne and facial hair can also develop.

I am not sure what you mean by the fact that you haven't gone through puberty as that would mean that none of the above changes have happened to you! It would mean that at the age of 26 you are still like a 12 year old. Surely if that is the case you would have done something about it by now ... or someone around you would. If this really is true, please make an appointment with your doctor, and do it now.

If as I suspect what you are actually saying is that you are so shy that you haven't yet lost your virginity (in other words you haven't yet had sex with anyone) then that is a different matter.

First of all not everyone starts having sex at the same time. There are no rules. What is right for one person, may be completely wrong for another. There is no normal age to lose one's virginity. There might be an average age - but that's just a statistic mathematically worked out, it bears no relation to real life. So stop worrying about it, that's the first thing. There is nothing wrong, you are just being individual.

Indeed that brings me to my second point - you have to be yourself and make a few decisions about your life. First of all are you sexually attracted to men or women, or indeed both? I assume because of your choice of website, you are gay or bisexual. If you fantasise about guys, enjoy looking at guys naked, and can visualise yourself at some point having sex with a guy - you almost certainly are.

Being clear about stage 1 and stage 2 is essential in trying to achieve stage 3. You say you are incredibly shy. I assume that you feel that you could not tell anyone about your sexuality in the family, or amongst your friends. That's a shame - if they love you, and they almost certainly do, they may not be as shocked as you think. Indeed many of them may have worked things out for themselves already. Yes, shock horror, they might have worked it through before you. It's what some family and some friends do. Believe me.

So what should you do now. Well if you don't feel confident to go to a gay bar or club on your own, why don't you talk to Gay Switchboard, or a helpline like that. Their UK number based in London, but open to all, is 0300 330 0630 ... but there are many other similar local switchboards up and down the country too. Just put "Gay Switchboard" and your nearest big city name into a search engine on the net, and it will come up with something suitable.

If you call they won't need to know any details about you - apart from a first name (real or made up) and they will talk to you about increasing your confidence level. Don't worry about calling ... it is their number 1 question by far. Their volunteers are well experienced and will talk to you about your feelings and your situation.

Most of all - please do something. This is making you unhappy and you need to get it sorted. Making one phone call could change your life. After all you've written to me, now call them. Good Luck!

John takes this: I really want to know the difference between the mg dosages for Viagra of 25, 50, and 100. I have used the 25 which was okay, but the effect was too brief to satisfy me. I then started using the 50's and it was very good. I would appreciate knowing if it's ok to swallow the 100's, and what effect the drug has on you long term?

James replies: Viagra does come in different strengths and the standard dose for most people would be 25mg or 50mg. 100mg is quite a high dose for most people.

A lot of people claim more success with lower doses and of course the side effects can be less. The effects of viagra are seriously reduced if you have been drinking alcohol, and fatty foods are especially bad at reducing the effects of viagra. It is also highly dangerous to take viagra with poppers.

Some of the side effects of taking viagra include headaches, flushing, upset stomach, abnormal vision, diarrhoea, dizziness, and a rash.

You would also be advised to check with your doctor if you have a cardiovascular condition, such as high blood pressure, kidney impairment, liver impairment, sickle cell anemia, multiple myeloma, leukemia, and anatomical deformations of the penis, bleeding disorders, or retinitis pigmentosa. 100mg is a very high dose - do not take it under any circumstances without talking this through with your GP, and a proper GP at that, one who knows all about your previous and current medical conditions.

Viagra can also react to other medication so again you should always tell your doctor of all nonprescription and prescription medication you are using, especially any nitrate medications (e.g., nitroglycerin, isosorbide dinitrate), nitroprusside (any "nitric oxide donor" medicines), quinidine, quinine, verapamil, cimetidine, erythromycin, clarithromycin, azole antifungals (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, fluconazole), mibefradil, niacin, omeprazole, rifamycins (e.g., rifampin) medication for HIV infection or high blood pressure medicines.

In general viagra has been a great way for people to have better and longer lasting sex lives although it is important to make sure you don't take too much at any one time, take it in the correct way and in the correct doses. Make sure you don't take it too often otherwise the effects can lessen and you may become dependent on it mentally.

Your idea of taking 100mg tablets is not a good one. Don't even think about it, without taking considerable medical advice first.

Robin wakes up to this: I really like this hot guy at college and I always have dreams about us running and playing naked, but whenever it gets to the "good part" eg having oral sex, anal sex, or kissing him, I wake up. Do you know why this is? Is my brain trying to tell me I'm not gay or something like that?

James answers: I doubt that your brain is trying to tell you that you are not gay just because you don't have sex in the dream!

This is a fantasy of yours and you enjoy thinking and dreaming about him and what might happen between you. This is the excitement of the situation for you and it's shown in the initial part of your dream. This is all to do with expectation and anticipation of what might happen.

The fact that your dream never goes any further could mean several things really. It may be that you know that this is a fantasy and as such you know subconsciously that sex with this guy would never happen and so you don't pursue this further in your dream, or it could be the exact opposite where it is entirely possible that one day you will have sex with him and you prefer not to dream about it but leave it entirely to reality. Maybe you cut this part of your dream as you really hope it will happen.

When interpreting dreams it is really important to keep it all in context! Most of all remember it is not reality, so stop worrying yourself about it, and enjoy it for what it is.


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