James Connor can answer all your questions on gay relationships, sex, health and love. James is founder of the website www.freshsx.com and his new DVD label has just released it's first movie featuring James in action. It's available now from the OutUK online store ShopGay. The opinions he gives in Ask James are based on his experiences as a gay man who enjoys all aspects of love and sex. He's not a qualified doctor, trained counsellor or therapist but his advice is like that of a close friend. The Ask James Archive has loads of questions and answers featured in previous editions of the column.

This Week - A close shave, Safe sex and Falling in love

ActiveGuys has a close shave: It was interesting to read your tips about ball (scrotum) shaving but what about hair removing creams? Are any safe to use in this sensitive area? What's the best way of always staying shaved? Should I be using a cream, or a blade or what?

James says: Hi there, well it is always worth remembering that you are shaving the most sensitive part of the body and as such great care needs to be taken. Some hair removal creams may work on pubic hair but it really depends on how thick your hair is. A lot of guys have quite thick pubic hair and so hair removal creams are not very effective.

It is however worth trying a hair removal cream as this is the method that is likely to create the fewest problems, so why not give it a go first. There are different strength creams available and also ones just for men now so look out for those! Use the sensitive formula if you can, and only spread it on a very small part of you first, just to make sure you are not allergic. Certainly DO NOT spread it all over, if it's the first time you are using it, and stick to the timing guidelines they give you. Be very careful that you do not get any of it inside your body, like top of your dick, under your foreskin or in your arse. Mankind have an excellent selection of products specially selected for men.

If hair removing creams fail or you don't like using them then you will have to go for shaving. The method least likely to damage the skin is trimming however you aren't going to remove all the hair this way. If you want a real close shave on your balls then try an electric razor as they can irritate the skin less than a blade. Hold the skin tight and pass the razor over the hair the same way the hair grows. Try not to go over the same area more than a few times as that will irritate the skin. And when you have finished always use a sensitive skin cream which does not contain fragrance or colour to moisturise and protect the skin.

If you are going to shave using a blade then the same rules apply but you should also consider taking a long bath before as that softens the hair. Then apply the shaving cream but note that again using a sensitive one is going to be wise. Stretch the skin around the area you are shaving and try not to stroke the same area more than twice if possible. When you have finished again moisturise.

It is important to remember that although this is a really sensitive area of the skin over time it does get more used to being shaved. The first few times you shave your balls be really careful as the skin may react and it can cause a rash. Over time however you may find that the skin adapts and it will be less painful and produce less of a risk of rashes or ingrowing hairs developing!

Jeffrey wants to play it safe: Hi James, I have sex usually every couple of weeks with the same guy. He is passive and loves me to perform anal sex on him. I have always used a condom but last time he asked me to to do it without. I decided I would not, but I am tempted to have sex without using a condom. As my partner insists he is only having sex with me is it OK for me to have anal sex without using a condom? I am a little worried in case I ejaculate in his anus. Is this a safe act if we are both monogamous?

James replies: Hi Jeffrey, the simple answer to your question is that unprotected sex even with your partner is never really safe unless you are sure that you are both 100% monogamous and do not sleep with any one else at all, and indeed haven't ever before slept with anyone, unless specific tests are carried out.

It is common for guys who are together a while or who really like each other to want to have sex without condoms however you always need to consider the risks of this. If you are only having sex with each other then the risks are going to be small however you would really need to checked out for previous partner STD's as either of you could have an STD that you don't know you have. Many STD's can sit in the body totally unrecognised as many of them do not even show symptoms in people for a long time.

Assuming you do both test negative for STD's then I suppose you could have unprotected sex with each other. There are however many problems with this. Even if you both promise to only have sex with each other is that always going to be the true story? It only takes one of you to have sex with another guy in order to catch something and then pass it on. Also if you never wear a condom between the two of you it would be difficult to suddenly announce you wanted to use one. It would be very unsafe to have sex without a condom if there was the possibility, howver remote that either of you were sleeping with someone else.

You should also remember that there are a lot of different STD's that you can pass on through unprotected anal sex, including HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes, Hepatitis and Syphillis so having unprotected anal sex really is something to consider very carefully indeed as there are a lot of risks associated with it. My advice would be NOT to do it, but if you ever do only then do so with a truly manogamous partner of many years standing after you have both had all the tests.

Tony is confused: Hi James, I was 8 years without any relationship cos I simply didn't find anyone that interested me. Then I moved to Thailand and started a new life just playing around with no interest in anyone and really enjoying my new life. After 3 months I met a guy who is in a relationship, but his boyfriend lives in another city, so we started seeing each other without any involvement. The problem now is, yes you guessed it! I'm getting involved. The guy treats me like a king, generous, kind, cute, great in bed, good fun, is not the 'money boy' type you normally find here. We see each other usually once during the week and at weekends when he's not with his boyfriend. He has always said he plans to move in with his boyfriend in March. So what now, should I just finish the whole thing now or stay with the best guy I have met in years for the time that's left?

James answers: Tony, the best you could do here is to talk to this guy openly and honestly. Tell him how you feel about him and about your past and that he is the first guy you have met in a long time who really is great for you.

By talking openly like this you will at least know that he appreciates exactly how you feel. He can then tell you more about his feelings towards you and also those towards his boyfriend. It is always difficult when you are involved with someone who already has a boyfriend but I think you will find that by being honest you will make the situation far more bearable.

Even if he does tell you that he loves his boyfriend and is going to live with him then you'll know the truth and can agree straightaway that you can enjoy the time remaining that you spend with each other. Also, you will have no regrets of not telling the first guy who you have met in 8 years who you really like about your feelings! If you do not say anything then you could spend years regretting this and wondering what might have happened had you told him your true feelings. Good Luck.


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