Editor’s note: “Ask us: Your health matters” (formerly, “Friends, Love and...) is a semi-regular column covering health issues, especially those some folks might be too embarrassed to talk about otherwise. If you have a health-related question or something you want a little insight into when it comes to sexual concerns, send us an email with your question to moliver@yakimaherald.com. Please include your name and email or phone number. All inquiries are kept confidential. Answers should not be considered a substitute for seeing your medical provider, but sometimes they can point you in the right direction. And always remember: There are no stupid questions when it comes to your health.

This week, McKenze M. Sigler answered two anonymously submitted questions. Read her response to find out why.

• I just found out my boyfriend isn’t circumcised. I was sort of shocked when I saw it for the first time because I’d never seen an uncut guy before. Is there anything I’m supposed to be doing differently when we’re messing around, either for oral sex or regular sex?

— Anonymous

• What’s the deal with the female G spot for real? And how can I make sure my girlfriend actually has an orgasm?

— Anonymous

I decided to answer these two questions together, because while they may not seem like it, they are actually related.

First of all, thanks to the question-askers. Most of us have had to think about these questions in one form or another, so thanks for being brave enough to talk about it.

Now, what do these questions have in common? They’re both actually about communication! I’ll circle back to this in a little bit.

First, let’s talk about circumcision and try to dispel some rumors. There are thoughts among some groups that being uncircumcised is not as clean as being circumcised. We know now that the biggest benefit of being circumcised is that it is associated with fewer urinary tract infections in newborns. In very large studies performed in Africa, it has also been associated with reduced transmission of HIV among adults. However, in the U.S. we have a relatively small HIV burden, so circumcision is not recommended for that purpose here.

Downsides to circumcision may also exist. There is concern that circumcision reduces sensitivity, and therefore may reduce sexual pleasure. Circumcision is one treatment option for premature ejaculation, so it does seem true that there is a bit less sensitivity after circumcision, but this seems truest when circumcision is performed during adulthood.

More and more parents are electing to not circumcise these days, as we understand that the utility of it in the U.S. is fairly limited. The circumcision rate was 83 percent in the 1960s compared to 77 percent in 2010, and anecdotally I would estimate that about 35 to 40 percent or so of my infant male patients in Yakima are not circumcised. All that is to say, circumcision remains a matter of parent preference. It is not unclean to be uncut, and it’s becoming more common to be uncircumcised. There’s a brief article about circumcision from a trusted source at https://bit.ly/2S1abEk.

Second, the mysterious G spot. The G spot, or Gräfenberg spot, is not a specific part of female anatomy. It is, however, part of the clitoral network. Thus, stimulating the so-called G spot is actually stimulating part of the clitoris. I actually think this article (https://bit.ly/2zY2qb7 ) does a really nice job summing it up using plain language. It also provides links to studies on the subject. The big takeaway is that the g-spot is not just one area, and that although most women have the same body parts they are not all equally sensitive or in exactly the same place. Thus, with each sexual partner you will need to make adjustments on how to stimulate them for their pleasure.

That brings me to how the two questions posed are related. All people’s genital anatomy varies, pleasure is felt and stimulated differently in different people, and everyone has sexual preferences. That means the best way to ensure you’re “doing things right” for your partner is to ASK THEM. I cannot stress this enough. Your partner has spent their whole life with their anatomy and it’s distinct from everyone else’s. So, as you’re exploring each other sexually, check in with them. Ask them when, how, and where things feel best. Have them show you how they like things done. Have your partner show you how, or if, he does anything special with his foreskin. Ask your female partner where she is most sensitive and in what positions or during which sexual activities she has orgasmed in the past.

Doing things in a way that is unique for your specific partner is the best way to ensure their satisfaction, and this cannot happen without communication.

Don’t forget that the first part of the communication should be obtaining your partner’s consent for sexual activity. Then, go forth and explore, talk through it, and be prepared for things to change over time. You’ll both get more out of your sexual experiences and your relationship the more you communicate about your preferences.

McKenze M. Sigler graduated with her master’s of science in nursing from Seattle University. Before becoming a family nurse practitioner, she worked in global public health on issues like HIV and access to primary health care. She lives locally and enjoys exploring the trails and activities in the Yakima Valley with her husband and dog.