Ask the doctor

Can diapers cause infertility in boys?Dear Doctor;Is it true that diapers cause infertility in boys when over used at a tender age? Samuel.

Can diapers cause infertility in boys?
Dear Doctor;

Is it true that diapers cause infertility in boys when over used at a tender age? Samuel.

Dear Samuel,

Studies have indeed shown a detrimental effect of using disposable plastic diapers in male babies. These diapers affect the normal natural cooling mechanism of the scrotum and raise temperature locally. This impairs testicular maturity and sperm production. Studies have shown increase in male infertility and testicular cancer in adult men as a result of  wearing these diapers as babies.

Since diapers are used for long time, that is, at least until two to three years, risk of damage becomes more. A better alternative would be to give a baby a soft cotton diaper. Old worn clothes can be used for this purpose as the material is naturally soft. On being soiled, one can throw them or wash with hot water and put out in good sun to dry. This would be cumbersome for parents but safe for babies.

My gums swell and hurt during chewing

Dear Doctor;

My gum swells and when I am chewing I usually hurt because I chew it with the food. What can I do? Joel

Dear Joel,

Swelling and pain on the gums can be due to multiple reasons. Infections due to poor hygiene, using hard tooth brush that hurts, massaging  gums too vigorously, use of very hot or cold  drinks, chewing tobacco or even excess of chewing gum, smoking, etc, are some the common causes. Try to always drink water after food as that rinses the mouth as well, brush your teeth regularly at least twice daily, gently massage gums, take nutritious food rich in calcium and vitamin C and most important avoid tobacco. If the problem persists consult a dentist.

Do all girls get cramps during their periods?

Dear Doctor;

What are cramps and do all girls get them during their periods? Samantha, 15, Butare.

Dear Samantha,

Cramps are sudden spasmodic contraction of muscles causing pain. Almost all  young girls get it during menstrual periods, a condition called as dysmenorrhoea. The duration and severity of pain is variable. It can range from two, three days to entire duration of menstrual cycle. The severity may be from mild to severe, incapacitating a person. Severe pain may be associated with vomiting in some cases. In young girls it is mostly related to hormonal effects and is said to improve with first delivery. In older women it could be due to infections, fibroids, among others.

I get sudden bursts of pain in my stomach

Dear Doctor;

I get sudden sharp pain in the abdomen that keeps coming and going. During the onset, I feel like there is heat in my stomach and my body gets hot. What could be wrong with me? Nathan, 23, Remera.

Dear Nathan,

You have not specified the site of pain. If the pain is in upper middle part of abdomen and you feel like heat in stomach, most likely it could be because of increased acid production. This could be caused by indigestion or chronic inflammation of stomach lining or even at times because of ulcers. Try taking small frequent meals instead of a heavy meal one or two times. This keeps acid neutralised. Avoid alcohol, excess of fried and spicy  foods. Also avoid taking pain killers like diclofenac and ibuprofen as they aggravate this problem. You need to take more of fresh fruits, green vegetables and whole grain food with more fibre.


Whenever the pain starts, try taking small quantity of cold milk as that would help you. If pain persists after trying these measures, get an endoscopy done (test where a tube is put through nose and entire alimentary system until small intestines is visible).


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