Duane Hoffmann / MSNBC
By msnbc.com contributor
msnbc.com contributor
updated 8/3/2006 3:22:15 PM ET 2006-08-03T19:22:15

Does a break mean a relationship is broken? Can true love make a woman's bosom blossom? And is it safe for people with genital herpes to have oral sex? Sexploration answers your queries. Have an intimate question? To e-mail us, click here .

Q: I think my boyfriend is going through some life-stage crisis. He just turned 36 and wants to go in a completely different direction career-wise, as well as move out of state. He loves me, but is concerned about our age difference in this process. I am 26. We have discussed taking a break, but I feel this is code for “not ready to commit.” When couples take breaks, is it an automatic deal-breaker or can it be beneficial to the relationship if you try again?

A: Using a calculation devised by experts in the field of gender differential maturity analysis (OK, it was me), 26 in female years is almost exactly equal to 36 in male years — at least when it comes to relationships. So the age thing is a red herring.

He may love you, but he may also be struggling to explain his vague dissatisfaction with life and that’s his invented theory. 

If he’s not asking you to move with him, a break is almost inevitable.

Breaks are not always permanent, though. I know a guy who once took a break from his girlfriend for over a year and now they’ve got two kids.

And sometimes a break — like, say, when one of you is considering a big life change — can help you think clearly without the pressures of trying to maintain a relationship.

But I suggest a serious talk about how or if you fit in his future. I suspect he’s hinting that you don’t.    

Q: My boyfriend and I have been having sex for the past year or so. He says I have gotten increasingly attractive to him over that time. Indeed my breasts have grown a cup-size and my rear end has filled out. Were these coincidental happenings or were they caused by having sex?

A: Are you pregnant? I’ve heard that can be caused by having sex. It can also enlarge your breasts and put ballast in your stern.

Skipping the gym to stay in bed? Happy? Maybe you are eating more.

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One way or the other, you’re probably gaining weight. You could argue sex (not to mention love) is the reason for your blossoming.

But while sex can cause heaving bosoms, blushing bosoms and glistening bosoms, it doesn’t grow bigger ones. 

Q: My partner and I both have genital herpes, but I want to include oral sex in our bedroom sessions. Are there any ways we can engage in oral activities without running the risk of contracting facial herpes?

A: You can enjoy oral sex IF — and this is important — you both have herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2), says one of the world’s leading experts in herpes, Dr. Anna Wald of the University of Washington’s Virology Research Clinic in Seattle.

Herpes comes in two common forms, HSV-1 and HSV-2.

HSV-1 is typically found around (or in) the mouth, but it can also cause genital herpes. (For the past 10 years or so, doctors have reported growing numbers of genital HSV-1 infections thanks to all that oral sex we’re having.) HSV-1 can go the other way, too, from genitals to mouth.

HSV-2 seems to create outbreaks only around the genitals. “So this couple needs to document they have HSV-2 infection,” Wald says. If that’s what your doctor determines, “go ahead and do what you want … there’s no worry about spreading it to the mouth because we think you are mostly immune at other parts of the body.”

So if the HSV-2 boat has already slipped the moorings, feel free to paddle downstream.      

Brian Alexander, a California-based freelance writer and contributing editor for Glamour magazine, is working on a new book about sex for Harmony, an imprint of Crown Publishing.

Sexploration appears every other Thursday.

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