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DOCTOR’S COLUMN: Can a person have sex when asleep and not know about it?

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Dear doctor,


By Vincent Karuhanga

Posted  Thursday, April 11  2013 at  01:00

Dear doctor, in Arua, a priest slept with a woman and made her pregnant. The woman was banished because it was believed that she bewitched the priest to sleep with her unknowingly. The bishop accepted the priest’s version of the story. Can anyone sleep with a woman and not remember?

Jacob Amandua, Arua

Dear Jacob, it is true that a man with many sexual partners may not remember some of them. If the priest does not have many sexual partners and actually had coitus with this woman, this may be one of the few stories of a medical condition of sleep sex (sexsomnia).

Abnormal or unnatural behaviours during sleep are called parasomnias. In some documented circumstances, women or men have undressed their sexual counterparts and even put condoms on themselves or on the men while in their sleep before having sex with them.

Just like in sleepwalking, night dancing and sleep eating, either a woman or a man can have sex while asleep and not be aware of it. Just like sleepwalking, sexsomnia may start early in childhood and continue into adulthood.

People with parasomnias are thought to be bewitched or even attacked by demons requiring exorcism or prayer and yet this is a recognised medical condition. That the bishop believed the priest but not the woman may indicate that the bishop may have been aware such a problem exists and as such gave the priest the benefit of doubt to the priest. A DNA test may be necessary for paternity but will not rule out sexsomnia.


Dear doctor, acid was thrown at me by thugs two years ago but the attack was not bad though I now have scars, which I want removed. Where can I do this?


Dear Immaculate, acid burn injuries represent a special kind of injury, with the effects depending on the type of acid, concentration, strength, quality, duration of contact, and penetration power. In Uganda, the common causative agent is sulphuric acid, which is used in batteries.

The face and neck are mainly targeted for maximum psychological torture. When the airway is involved, there may be death due to breathing problems. It is likely you developed bad scars called keloids which may require a plastic surgeon, who you can get from big hospitals like Mulago hospital.


Dear doctor, people say that bazungu doctors cannot treat etalo, which is said to result from witchcraft. As such, it requires an “African solution”. Are there recent advances in medicine to treat this?

Nike Sserumaga

Dear Nike, the skin is the largest organ of the body and it helps protect the inside from germs and therefore body infection. Sometimes, the skin gets breaches some of which we can see with our naked eyes (wounds) but some are too small to see (microscopic).

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