QUESTION: I have used the pill for five years but have become concerned and frightened by what I’ve recently heard about the dangerous side effects. What are they? And if I should give them up, what is the comparative efficiency of (1) a diaphragm with contraceptive cream, (2) a ‘loop”, (3) vaginal foam?

ANSWER: A recent study conducted in England has indicated that women who use birth control pills have, statistically, a slightly greater chance of getting blood clots in the arms, legs and lungs than those who do not use the pills. But the dangers of a normal pregnancy are still higher than the dangers to a woman using the pills.

“Loops” or intrauterine devices(IUDs) are probably as effective as diaphragms used with contraceptive creams for preventing pregnancy. Vaginal foams are not quite as effective as the loop or diaphragm, but are said to be “safe” as condoms. I have referred before to the many babies nicknamed Perceptin, Emco or Ortho and to those born grasping a loop.

QUESTION: I am a 21 year old male and am very worried about my sexual capacities. I never have engaged in a sexual intercourse. Problem: my penis’ foreskin is tight, i.e. during an erection, the foreskin cannot be pulled back. Is it possible to have an intercourse with this state or is circumcision necessary for my condition?

ANSWER: Most uncircumcised males have no such hang-ups but a visit to a urologist sounds in order for you. Your local medical society or nearest medical school could make such a referral.

QUESTION: Our house is shared by a large parrot, with whom I have been dining, sharing the same fork and food.

In that the parrot seems to be a very healthy bird, never having been sick a day in his life, and in that humans are such sickly animals, prone to a multitude of diseases, how may I be endangering his health?

ANSWER: Psittacosis, or parrot fever, is a respiratory disease which can be transmitted from birds to man or, in your case, from man to bird. The agent causing the disease was formerly thought to be a virus but may be closer to rickettsia, microorganisms midway in size between bacteria and viruses. Psittacosis causes a type of pneumonia and the first symptom is usually a cough.

QUESTION: My lover says I have the largest erection she’s seen. I measured it on the upper side and it is almost 7 inches.

Is this larger than usual? Also, if my partner had a small vagina would there be any chance of splitting her?

ANSWER: Your lover loves you. The largest known human penis was said to be 14 inches erected.

The “normal” range is 5 to 7 inches. Except for extreme mismatches, which occur very rarely, the normal vagina can change to accommodate a penis of any size. If you are gentle, there is no chance of doing harm to your friend.

QUESTION: Everyone says that the penis size doesn’t determine good sex; for me it’s an important factor. I had a child 4 years ago and don’t think I’m markedly bigger inside, at least my doctor says no.

I’ve always wished my husband were a little larger. (I love him dearly and have not had any extramarital affairs). Since he can’t expand, is there a way I can contract? Silicone injections? Douching with some mysterious chemical? Does any company make some device that I can insert before intercourse for a fuller feeling? Tell me.

My doctor just winks and smiles and says it’s all in my head. That’s not where I want it.

ANSWER: I wonder if this is something that has concerned you for four) years or only recently. Vaginal exercises are quite valuable for restoring and improving muscular tone. By pretending to place a finger in the vagina or even practicing on your husband, you (and he) will note the action of two distinct muscle groups when you contract or squeeze these muscles. This exercise is similar to squeezing the sphincter muscles of the anal opening — in fact the same muscle groups are involved.

A San Francisco go-go dancer told me she practices these exercises while doing her routine on stage. Other women practice several times a day while reading or washing dishes. Like the muscle-building exercises performed by weight-lifters, the frequency and force used should be gradually increased. Okay, everyone (female) out there — 1, 2, 3, SQUEEZE!

Dr. Schoenfeld welcomes your questions. Write to him c/o The Fifth Estate.