New news, old year

Pub date December 30, 2008


Dear Readers:

It’s been a crappy but interesting year in sex news, which, when you really think about it, could describe just about any year you care to look at. One of these stories is probably my favorite sex/science news ever, at least since we found out that female ejaculate comes from the bladder, not the tiny Skene’s glands along the urethra. Oh, and there was the study that showed that that men who identified as bisexual were not actually aroused by images of men having sex, and the correlation of lesbianism with finger-length ratios…

My first story is actually an old one (most of the datelines for it on the Web are from 2003), but it did just land on my desk again, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to report that performing fellatio does not reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 40 percent in women who swallow at least twice a week. As points out, the presence of experts such as "Dr. Len Lictopeen" on the "CNN Health" page that makes the rounds ought to serve as a hint that the page was spoofed. Sorry, fellas.

So what else do we have? Medscape published a rundown of penis news titled "Penile Size and Penile Enlargement Surgery: A Review," which was mostly unstartling (urologists think surgeons should have a good reason before performing penis enlargement procedures, many men are dissatisfied with the results, etc.), but my favorite take-away was this one: after linear regression analysis, there was no statistical correlation between stretched penile length and shoe size. So now you know.

New Scientist published an article I wish I’d read back when I was answering phones at San Francisco Sex information, where questions about sex, calories, and weight loss (or gain, in the case of fellatio-performers who worried about calorie content) were common. "Nope, sorry," I’d assure them, "You’re not going to lose weight that way (300 calories an hour is an optimistic but common estimate), but it’s good for your general health, so off you go." But now it appears that prolactin, the hormone that not only induces lactation but promotes maternal feelings and rises after orgasms achieved during intercourse — although (apparently) not through other acts — may also play a role in maternal and paternal weight gain. And since prolactin levels rise after sex, some researchers are investigating the obvious conclusion: sex makes you fat. And while they don’t ask this question, I will: is "fat and happy" really such a bad thing, given the alternative?

Meanwhile, there actually is evidence that sex, especially morning sex, really is good for what ails you. Among many other and better-known benefits, it has been shown to raise levels of Immunoglobulin A,(IgA), the microbe-slaying antibody, and thus might help you fight infections.

All of this is well and good, but I’ve been remiss in not reporting sooner the headline that really captured my attention: "G-Spot Caught on Ultrasound! Elusive Organ’s Existence No Longer In Question!"

Not that I questioned it. I was (and still am) continually irritated, however, by the constant references in the media to the G-spot’s possible apocryphal-ocity. While merely insisting that something is there cannot make it so (I am, for instance, still an atheist), this denial of the lived and reported experience of millions of women (and many of their partners) is and was uniquely galling. But now we have this story, reported as a bit of a yay/boo/yay by our friend, New Scientist:

Yay: Emmanuele Jannini at the University of L’Aquila in Italy discovered clear anatomical differences between women who claim to have vaginal orgasms — triggered by stimulation of the front vaginal wall without any simultaneous stimulation of the clitoris — and those who don’t.

Boo: Apparently, the key is that women who orgasm during penetrative sex have a thicker area of tissue in the region between the vagina and urethra, meaning that a simple scan could separate the lucky "haves" from the "have-nots."

Yay: Even better, Jannini now has evidence that women who have this thicker tissue can be "taught" to have vaginal orgasms. Ultrasound scans on 30 women uncovered G-spots in just eight of them and when these women were asked if they had vaginal orgasms during sex, only five of them said yes. However, when the remaining three were shown their G-spots on the scan and given advice on how to stimulate it, two of them subsequently "discovered" the joy of vaginal orgasms. "This demonstrated, although in a small sample, the use of [vaginal ultrasound] in teaching the vaginal orgasm," Jannini says.

I knew it! I’ve been teaching for years and years that internal sensitivity is, or at least can be, a learned response. I don’t expect that ultrasound, which is expensive and literally invasive — if also harmless and painless — is going to become part of Everywoman’s sexual fulfillment tool-kit, but how cheering is it to have proof at last? Good news in a bad year, right?



Andrea is teaching Sex After Parenthood at Day One Center (, Recess (, and privately. Contact her at for more info.