From moles in private places to what to do about unvaccinated family, here's some of the advice readers asked for in 2021

Throughout the year, our Asking For A Friend columnist hears from readers looking for help solving dilemmas that are just too embarrassing to share with a friend. Here are just a few of 2021's best. 4 minute read December 28, 2021
Asking for Advice in 2021

Writer Maja Begovic tackled questions from readers about whether leggings count as dinner- wear and why not brushing your teeth is well, gross. GETTY

Throughout the year, we get emails from readers looking for help solving dilemmas that are just too embarrassing to share with a friend, like the person who wondered if it was gross not brush your teeth every day, or someone else who needed to know why her boyfriend constantly ‘adjusted’ himself. There were lots of serious questions too, the stuff that was keeping some readers up at night — ‘Why do I keep waking up in a panic?’ took a look at pandemic mental health, while ‘Desperately seeking sleep’ weighed the benefits of sleeping pills. And of course, we never get tired of wanting to do the best for our body parts, like this reader who wanted to know if she should be steaming her vagina.

We also loved the mundane, ‘How often should I wash my sheets?’, ‘Are leggings ok to wear to dinner’? and ‘What’s this stuff in my belly button?’. Of course, there was no shortage of pandemic questions, with the big one being ‘What do I do about unvaccinated family?

Here are some other questions that — with the help of the experts — writer Maja Begovic answered in 2021.

Neighbours should butt out

This from a reader whose neighbours polluted the outside air with their constant smoking: I am not the confrontational type, and I love my neighbours…except they smoke cigarettes A LOT. On their front porch, or out back — sometimes both. And I wouldn’t care, except that now that the weather is warmer, and I want to keep my windows open and I can’t without smelling smoke. It’s gross. Plus, my kids can’t leave their windows either. I am wondering if this is more than an annoyance – does this count as secondhand smoke? So could this be dangerous to myself and my kids? And how can I have conversation without ruining our neighbourly relationship? Read more

Worried about mould

And what about that mould that you just can’t seem to get rid of? I am renting an old home and there is mould in every room, it seems. The showers have a little bit of black mould in the corners (it doesn’t come off) and there is also a slimy kind of reddish mould on the tile. There’s greenish mould in the fridge (I clean it, but it comes back) and behind my bed, around the baseboards, there is black mould. Should I be worried? And is there one type of mould that is worse than another? Read more

Let’s talk about painful sex

One reader had been suffering years of painful sex: After years of painful sex and not being able to use tampons comfortably, I have been diagnosed with vaginismus. I am finding it hard to talk about with my doctor and my partner about it, and I am worried that it’s going to get worse. Am I ever going to be able to enjoy sex? Read more

Moles in embarrassing places

An email from a reader asking whether or not it was weird to ask a dermatologist to check a mole that was, as he put it, “where the sun doesn’t shine,” got us wondering too. He wrote: I am wondering how common it is for dermatologists to check places that are where the sun doesn’t shine during a mole check? I see my derm once a year, and she only checks my arms, legs and face using that blue light thing. Recently, I noticed a strange-looking mole near my testicles, and I can’t help being concerned — I have heard of people having skin cancer in their buttocks and pubic area. Is it weird to ask to have these areas checked? Will she think I am a weirdo? And is skin cancer common in these hidden-away places? By the way, we found out that 20 per cent of melanomas happen in places not exposed to the sun. Read more

Read more “Asking For A Friend” letters here.

Is there something about health that you (or a friend, wink, wink) have always wondered about, but are too embarrassed to ask? Send a note to We promise your ‘friend’s’ secret — and identity — is safe with us.


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