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DEAR HARRIETTE: It's been six months since I started my period. I absolutely hate tampons and pads. I don't know if I'm using tampons wrong or if it doesn't work for me (is that possible?), and when I wear pads, I feel like I'm wearing a diaper. Any advice? Alternatives? Help! -- Becoming a Woman, Jacksonville, FL

DEAR BECOMING A WOMAN: Congratulations on beginning the journey of womanhood. It has many twists and turns, some extremely exciting, others uncomfortable. The great news is that there are many products on the market that are designed to make your monthly cycle as comfortable as possible.

While it can be daunting to figure out what is for you, take some time in a large drugstore to go down the aisle of feminine products and look at the various configurations offered. Depending upon the fullness of your cycle, you can select from an assortment of pads that may work for you, many that are slim in nature and do not feel like a diaper.

There is also a new product on the market that may be of interest to you, the diva cup (divacup.com). Talk to your doctor about this option that some women are finding more manageable than others.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I've been dating my boyfriend for a year. We met in a club in New York City, and after a few dates I fell for him. He has met my family, and they all love him, too. Here's where it twists: my best friend, Harry, has an online dating account and found my man on it! Not only that, my best friend is gay, and my boyfriend's account says he is interested in men. I am a girl. I don't even know what to do or say. I'm in love with him, but this frightens me. Advice? Where do I even start? -- Confused, Brooklyn, N.Y.

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DEAR CONFUSED: Confront your boyfriend immediately and tell him what you learned. Ask him if he currently or ever has been intimately involved with a man. Be specific in your questioning so that you make it difficult for him to dodge the topic. Watch the way he reacts to your questions to get a sense of whether he is telling the truth.

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Don't back down about what you have discovered. That he has put himself on a gay dating site is disturbing, especially if you believed that the two of you were exclusive.

If you are sexually active with him, I hope that you were tested for HIV first. If not, now is the time to do so. I just learned about an at-home testing product that will tell you your status in 20 minutes. Go to oraquick.com for details.

You say that you love this man, and perhaps you do. But if he has betrayed your trust by choosing to be involved outside of your relationship, it is time for you to evaluate whether your emotions are stronger than the facts.

(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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