By msnbc.com contributor
msnbc.com contributor
updated 7/29/2010 9:44:32 AM ET 2010-07-29T13:44:32

Can a vasectomy dim a guy's enjoyment of sex? Also, how does a young woman in a rural area without any resources find a safe way to come out and enter the "lesbian scene"? Sexploration answers your most intimate queries. Got a question? E-mail us . We'll post answers to select questions.

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Q: My husband had a vasectomy 13 years ago. Ever since, he claims that his ejaculate is only half what it was and that his orgasms are diminished. He feels this is the natural result for all snipped men. I say his experience is rare. Who’s right?

A: You are. Alas, any diminished eruption probably has more to do with him being thirteen years older.

Men are always saying their eruptions are less, uh, Deepwater Horizon-like after a vasectomy, but that’s probably because a knife has recently been applied to our nether regions.

In fact, semen is mostly Gatorade for sperm, full of sugars and medium so the little guys have the energy to swim. Sperm — which is what’s taken out of the mix with a vasectomy — is a small percentage of semen. Studies have shown that the drop off in volume is barely noticeable for most men.

On the other hand, we men are a bit like an oil well in that as we age, we produce less. Also, our orgasms become less intense. Remember, though, the better shape you’re in, the better your orgasms.

Q: I’m 22 years old. I want to enter the lesbian scene, but I’m not sure where to start. I’ve never “gone all the way” with a woman, but I want to date women while being safe. I live in a rural area (in New Mexico) that doesn’t have any resources for young, newly out, GLBTQ people. How do I meet other women? Can you recommend guides on how to protect myself during lesbian sex?

A: While you might face challenges urban lesbians may not, you are very lucky to be 22 in our soon-to-be-post-Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell era, a time when learning that somebody is a lesbian, is, for many people, sort of boring. So said Beth Wright assistant professor of sociology at North Carolina’s Lenoir-Rhyne University, and Mary Gray, assistant professor in the department of communication and culture at Indiana University in Bloomington and the author of “Out in the Country: Youth, Media and Queer Visibility in Rural America.”

Neither were exactly sure what you meant by “lesbian scene,” since there is no such thing as one “lesbian scene,” but they caught your drift and empathized.

When Wright was growing up in a small Tennessee town, the daughter of southern Baptist sharecroppers, she knew she was different, somehow. But she sat in church listening to preachers instructing their flocks that homosexuality was “as horrible as you can get and that lesbians were an abomination,” she told me. So she dared not even think of herself as a lesbian.

“I never talked to anyone in my high school [about it],” she recalled. “I ended up internalizing much of that fear and anxiety.” She wound up on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. In college — a conservative Baptist school — she attempted suicide. She did not utter the word lesbian in relation to herself until age 26.

Now nearly 50, Wright enjoys her life with a partner, is out about her sexuality, but it was a hard road. With luck, you won’t face that. But there are challenges.

The problem for you is that the “lesbian-per-square-mile” quotient is far smaller in rural New Mexico than it is in West Hollywood. But, Gray told me, young rural lesbians often think they are alone because gay and lesbian people in the area may be closeted, or simply discrete. In her Ph.D. dissertation on rural lesbians, Wright quotes a lesbian churchgoer who listens to a discussion of how there are no lesbians around and laughs to herself because she knows 25, some members of the same church.

But surely some gay and lesbian people in your area have found each other and if they have, they may have formed on online group. So look online. (Be aware that you may have to trudge through lots of porn sites depending on what search terms you use.) Also research gay and lesbian themed events in larger cities and towns, like, say, Santa Fe or Albuquerque, and attend them. You may find people there who live closer to you.

If the “safety” you are worried about is STDs, you should behave the way straight women ought to be behave, Wright said. See a doctor regularly, remember that lesbians can transmit STDs just like straight people, know your partner’s history and use a dental dam for non-monogamous oral sex (and a male condom on sex toys if you share those). You should also be careful about meeting people in person with whom you have communicated online. Meet for coffee in the daytime in a public place. Take it slow.

Have a question?

Don’t assume that you’ll face condemnation from neighbors. “Rural” has been sometimes unfairly stereotyped to mean “closed-minded.” “As far as being harassed in a small town,” Gray said, “We really do not have good evidence of that. It is drummed up as being worse than it is.” It depends on the place. When Wright and her partner hold hands in public in her small town, passersby will sometimes shout hateful comments, but that doesn’t happen in other nearby communities.

Also be aware that lesbian life in rural communities is different from popular entertainment depictions of gay life. There is not likely to be any cool lesbian bar, and no expensive loft apartment where hipster pals, gay and straight, talk about finding each other dates.

One last caution: Wright pointed out that some young lesbians in rural places are so happy to find another lesbian that they can wind up in bad relationships they won’t leave because even a bad relationship beats being lonely. Just because somebody is also lesbian doesn’t mean you have to like them.

Brian Alexander is the author of the book “America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction," now in paperback.

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