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Your Brain on Porn

May 25, 2011


photo via Flickr

There has always been great debate between sex-positive free-speech porn advocates and anti-porn chicken-little moralists. We’ve always fallen somewhere in the middle: you can’t really legislate desire and fantasy, but at the same time all this porn, like too much fast food, can’t be good for you. An interesting site we’ve found that seems to rely heavily on science without any moralistic judgment is YourBrainOnPorn.com — it smartly and succinctly explains how heavy porn use can have unwanted effects on the brain and offers suggestions for reversing those effects. The founders of this site have a blog on Psychology Today called Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow and just this week posted one guy’s account of his “rebooting,” an attempt to rewire his brain circuitry with a porn/masturbation/orgasm fast — pretty fascinating stuff:

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Insecurity May Improve Your Chances in the Dating World

December 29, 2010


photo by chelseagirl

We have long repeated the adage that confidence — whether real or faked — leads to success on the pick-up scene and in the dating world. But a new study by a psychology professor at Queens College in New York suggests the exact opposite: insecure people try harder in the dating world, which can lead to success at least as often as it can lead to your appearing desperate and needy. “Insecure individuals [present] themselves as warm, engaging, and humorous people,” the professor, Claudia Brumbaugh, writes. In other words, maybe insecure people who fake confidence actually do better than confident people who take their self-confidence for granted.

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Emergency Bras at the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony

October 4, 2010


The 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, which honors achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think,” was held Harvard University last Thursday. On hand to help honor the 2010 prize laureates was Dr. Elana Bodnar, last year’s winner of the Ig Nobel Public Health Prize for her Emergency Bra, a brassiere that can quickly be transformed into a pair of gas masks (which sounds kind of ridiculous until you learn that as a young Ukrainian physician, she treated people affected as much by particle inhalation as by radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident). At this year’s event, she gave out her Emergency Bras, which are now on sale commercially at ebbra.com, to the winners, which included a team from Bristol who won the biology prize for documenting fellatio in fruit bats. (One of the team’s professors said, “It is the first documented case of fellatio by adult animals other than humans to my knowledge, and opens questions about whether female animals can manipulate males via sexual activity.“)

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Fewer E.D. Ads! New Teen-Focused Recommendations for Sex-Soaked Culture

September 1, 2010


Teens now spend a whopping seven hours per day on various forms of media. So the American Academy of Pediatrics just issued a revised policy statement, “Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media,” in the September 2010 print issue of Pediatrics (published online Aug. 30). In addition to calling for the creation of a national task force on children, adolescents and the media to be convened by child advocacy groups in conjunction with the CDC or National Institutes of Health, it includes updated recommendations for pediatricians and parents on how to deal with this sex-soaked culture. Among the new recommendations since 2001:

  • In addition to supervising their children’s traditional media use, parents (as well as pediatricians) should understand social networking sites and counsel kids about using them.
  • The entertainment industry should be encouraged to produce more programming that contains responsible sexual content and that focuses on the interpersonal relationship in which sexual activity takes place. Meanwhile, advertisers should stop using sex to sell products.
  • Pediatricians and the government should urge and encourage the broadcast industry to air advertisements for birth control products.
  • Ads for erectile dysfunction drugs, which can be confusing to young viewers, should not air until after 10 p.m.
  • Parents can use media story lines as teachable moments to discuss sex with their teens instead of doing “the big talk.”

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The Power of Teenage Love

August 23, 2010

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photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

A study by Bill McCarthy of the University of California and Eric Grodsky of the University of Minnesota found that teens in romantic sexual relationships have similar school experiences to virgins. Meanwhile, students who engage in NON-romantic sexual activity (hook-ups, friends with benefits, etc) were found to be more likely to be suspended or expelled, less likely to aspire to college, and more likely to earn lower grades.

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One Woman’s Tale of Dying to Give Birth

June 14, 2010


photo by Lynsey Addario/VII Network for Time

It’s reasonable to assume that, in this day and age of technological advances and common knowledge about good health, maternal mortality rates should be next to nil. But even in the United States, one of the richest countries in the world, it’s up at 13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births (in 2006), an increase from 1997 when it was 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births (according to Amnensty International’s recent report Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA). We fall behind 40 other countries, almost all industrialized nations! So imagine how dire the situation is in developing countries. In this week’s issue of Time Magazine, there’s a horrific photo essay of one woman’s quick journey from pregnancy to death in Sierra Leone, where an overwhelming 1,033 women die for every 100,000 live births — that’s one of the highest death rates in the world. Add it all up, and every day one woman per minute dies while giving birth or soon after. What makes this even more tragic is the fact that these deaths are almost always preventable.

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Herpes – the Good News, the Bad News, and the Really Bad News

March 18, 2010


photo by Nathan Csonka

A new study out from the CDC shows that herpes is twice as common in women than men, and three times as common in blacks than whites. A massive 48% of new herpes cases are among black women. We called on Dr. Vanessa Cullins, an obstetrician/gynecologist and vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood, to get the story behind these depressing statistics.

Em & Lo: Can you briefly explain the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2, and how they are related to oral vs genital herpes?

Dr. Cullins: Herpes is a very common infection caused by two different but closely related viruses — herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Both are easy to catch. They remain in the body for life, and can produce symptoms that come and go. Both forms of herpes can infect the oral area, the genital area, or both. When the infection is on or near the mouth, it is called oral herpes. Oral herpes is caused most often by HSV-1. When herpes infection is on or near the sex organs, it is called genital herpes. Genital herpes is caused most often by HSV-2.

The study shows that women are nearly twice as likely as men to be infected — why is this?

Herpes infections prefer moist environments and a woman’s sexual organs tend to be more continuously moist than a man’s.

The study also shows that the infection rate is three times higher amongst blacks, with 48% of new herpes cases being in African American women. Why the disparity?

Women of color are disproportionately affected by the current health care system that exists in this country. Women who face multiple barriers to accessing affordable health care, including being uninsured or under-insured, experience higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and other medical conditions.

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New York City Wants to Turn You On

March 12, 2010


Good design used to be completely unheard of in the world of sex accessories — neither function nor form was particularly paid attention to, whether it was a vibrator or a pair of latex undies. Fortunately, in the last decade or so, both form and function have improved immeasurably, and we could not be happier. Now vibrators and dildos are as likely to resemble abstract art for your coffee table as they are to resemble a penis. The newest contender in this field? New York City’s health department, if you can believe that! The city distributes 40 million free condoms every year, and they decided that the condom packaging could use an overhaul. Now, design by committee tends to be a horrible idea, and design by government agency tends to be even worse. But some smarty-pants in the health department decided to hold an online competition for a special limited edition condom wrapper, and 15,000 people voted on the entries.

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Sex at the Winter Olympics

February 22, 2010


Vancouver is continuing the tradition, started in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics, of making free condoms available to athletes. They’re matching the amount of 100,000 that the Chinese provided at the last Summer Games. But since there are fewer athletes in the Winter Games than in the Summer, it works out to more condoms per player (almost 15 this time around)According to the Vancouver Sun, the condoms are “provided by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and [are] available at two village polyclinics staffed by doctors and nurses under the direction of the health authority.” Health officials wanted to put them into the athletes’ packages, but the IOC nixed that idea. There’s been talk of the influx of sex workers to Vancouver to meet the demand for services by visitors and athletes — some seemingly for it, and some against it. But the best info we’ve seen so far on sex at the Olympic Games has come from former Olympics Canadian snowboarder Crispin Liscomb, in an interview pressing him for the dirty details about post-event hook-ups, which he handles with class and charm (see video above).

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What Kind of Birth Control Should You Use?

February 19, 2010


The good news is there are a lot of birth control options available to women. The bad news is you have to figure out which one is right for you — how to choose?! Planned Parenthood has a pretty cool, new widget that can help take a little bit of the guesswork out of it. Called “My Method,” it’s a quick survey you take which immediately analyzes your answers and recommends the types of birth control that might be best for you, your relationship(s) and situation. Are you an IUD gal or possibly a Pill popper? It’s designed for women, so fellas should answer from their female partner’s perspective. They’ve got a big qualifier at the beginning explaining that this is not official medical advice and you should consult your doctor blah blah blah, but it’s certainly more helpful than the last Cosmo quiz you took about which kind of animal you are in the sack.

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