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When a motorcycle show owner brings his work home with him — on his hands and clothes — none of his wife's attempts to get him to clean up seem to work.
By msnbc.com contributor
msnbc.com contributor
updated 2/5/2010 7:57:09 AM ET 2010-02-05T12:57:09

Can straight talk convince a dirty man to change his ways? And will a woman judge a man if he has a crooked erection? Sexploration answers your most intimate queries. Got a question? E-mail us . We'll post answers to select questions.

Q: How can I get my husband to clean up his act? His attitude toward personal care doesn’t make for a romantic evening. As a matter of fact, it totally turns me off! He wasn't always like this; before he bought his motorcycle business he was ready and willing to have sex anytime, just as I was. I have been trying different approaches, like suggesting that if he showers, I will give him a massage. Sometimes I want to go out to eat and I ask him to clean up for a nice dinner out but he’s in his dirty mechanic’s work clothes and says "Why can't I go like this?"

A: As I sit in my sweatpants and old high school T-shirt with peanut butter smudges and rub my unshaven chin, I am tempted to sympathize with your husband.

He has purchased a business and has a lot of money at risk, so I’m betting he works hard. He’s not an investment banker; his work is grimy. He comes home tired and dirty. This work is an act of devotion, not just for motorcycles, but for you. I hope you show him how much you appreciate this.

Still, the Sexploration philosophy is that loving couples have a variety of duties to each other and one of those duties is to look good, stay in shape, smell nice and be as attractive a sexual partner as possible. This idea that we’re supposed to be as hot for our lovers when they’ve gained 30 pounds or begun smelling like old fish is a lot of TV talk show hooey.

Yes, age, childbearing and illness all ding our sex appeal, and their effects are not always under our control. But at age 25 or at age 75, we owe each other the best we can be by working on what we can control. Bathing, oral care, deodorizing, grooming — come on, this isn’t that hard! If it is, something’s wrong. Some people, for example, who stop bathing regularly or otherwise seem to let themselves fall apart may be experiencing severe depression and need help.

But usually, we just get sloppy. Sexploration votes for plain talk. While recognizing his hard work, and assuring him you do not expect Cary Grant every night, simply explain your feelings and gently point out the specific things that repel you. If the one who loves us won’t tell us about our stinky bits, offensive fingernails, or weird ear hairs, who will?

Q: Can a crooked erection be fixed? If not, does it affect the way she sees me?

A: So your little man looks like the dogleg on the 14th hole at Pebble Beach, eh? Well, not to worry.

You don’t say why you’ve strayed from the straight and hopefully-not-too-narrow, but the two causes of penile curvature include a disease called Peyronie’s and congenital malformation. According to Dr. John Mulhall, director of sexual medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center in New York City, a curving penis is not at all uncommon.

Urologists usually regard anything more than a 30-degree deviation as being a candidate for intervention, because, Mulhall told me, “then it can start restricting your ability to use multiple positions for intercourse and many men say sex is not spontaneous.”

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The treatment for congenital curvature is a surgery called plication. Mulhall explained it to me, but when he did, my testicles crawled into my abdomen. It’s one of those procedures that works fine, and you don’t even have to stay in the hospital overnight — Mulhall called it “straightforward” — but it’s better not to know the details unless you really need it. Let’s just say he used phrases like “deglove the penis” and “pull the skin down.” Basically, a surgeon will “shorten” the longer side of the penis so it matches the other side.

Men hear the word “shorten” Mulhall said, and cringe, but while the penis may appear to be slightly shorter after the procedure, it’s really not.

Plication is sometimes performed for Peyronie’s disease, as is penile implant, and “plaque incision,” a graft-and-suture procedure. Which technique a surgeon chooses depends on a variety of factors like impotence and how complicated the curve is. (Some men do a double dogleg.)

Sometimes the real impact of a curved penis is psychological. One study showed that men overestimate the degree of curvature. Whether or not your curve will affect the way your lover sees you is up to her, but here’s a little news you might like. According to Mulhall, most men with congenital curvature have “very long” penises. If the resulting bend is not too severe, and does not cause any erection trouble, she may just regard you as wonderfully different.

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

© 2013 msnbc.com.  Reprints

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