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9781416953463

Sexpertise Real Answers to Real Questions About Sex

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  • ISBN13:

    9781416953463

  • ISBN10:

    1416953469

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-04-22
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
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Supplemental Materials

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Summary

SEXPERTISE provides a comprehensive, up-to-date guide to human sexuality for twenty and thirtysomethings; from flirting and fingering to staying power and STIs, and everything in between. In SEXPERTISE, Dr Sawyer examines the most common questions and provides sexually accurate, yet candid, entertaining, useful answers. The good doctor explains everything from how to talk about sex with a partner openly and intelligently so that young adults can avoid relying on prayer as a contraceptive to understanding that climaxing doesn't mean the end of sex. The structure of the book follows the outline of the successful human sexuality course, which progresses from basic information about sexual anatomy, to dating, to communication, to sexual response, all the way through to sexuality and aging. It can be read "cover to cover" or used as a resource, identifying topics of interest.

Author Biography

Dr. Robin Sawyer taught Sex Ed in the Department of Public and Community Health at the University of Maryland, where he received his Ph.D. His teaching attracted national attention on the Today show and The Washington Post. He received numerous teaching awards and written one of the leading textbooks in the field: Human Sexuality, published by Kendall/Hunt. He created several films on topics related to sexual health and relationships that won fourteen film awards and have been used on college campuses around the country. 

Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
The Basics
The Physical Basics: From Tubes to Testes Is man's largest sexual organ the penis?
How do humans compare to other primates with regard to the penis?
Does size matter?
Does girth matter?
Is it possible for a penis to be too large?
What is the normal size of a penis?
Is it true you can tell how big a man's penis is by the size of his shoes?
Is it true that certain races or ethnic groups have larger penises?
Does penis circumcision make any difference during sex?
OK, you say it doesn't matter, but do women prefer circumcised penises?
Does all semen taste the same?
Is semen high in calories?
Is semen high in protein?
Is it true that swallowing semen reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers?
What's the hymen and what does it do?
Can you tell if a woman is a virgin?
What is the clitoris, and how will I know it when I see it?
Are most women shaving their pubic hair these days?
Do women prefer men to shave too?
Does the anus have a G-spot?
Does everyone masturbate?
Why do people masturbate?
Is it possible to masturbate too much?
Are men who masturbate more likely to prematurely ejaculate?
What's all this about prostate cancer and can I do anything to prevent it?
If I have a vasectomy, will I ejaculate anything?
My boyfriend's penis seems to curve to one side when he's hard. Is that weird?
Is it normal that my girlfriend's breasts are different sizes?
Is there any truth to the blue balls rumor, or is this an urban legend?
Do women experience the same "blue balls" feeling?
Does too much testicular heat decrease sperm production?
Can smoking marijuana affect a man's sperm production?
Is it true that the average man's sperm count has decreased over the past fifty years?
Can sex count as exercise or be used for any type of athletic training?
Is sex good for your physical health?
Can sex help my mental health?
The Communication Basics: Let's Hook Up or Whatever Has sex changed our vocabulary?
Why are we so uncomfortable with sex-related words and language?
What does "hooking up" mean?
I'd like some sex. Is simply asking someone out of the question?
Is oral sex sex?
If I haven't had sex for a year, can I regain my virginity?
Do men/women like virgins?
Why do some men have so much trouble taking enough direction on how to give a woman an orgasm?
My boyfriend has an ex-girlfriend who calls him all the time. They sometimes meet for lunch, but he insists there's nothing going on -- they're just good friends. What do you think?
I have a guy friend who stops by once or twice a week and we have sex, no strings attached. I'm beginning to have feelings for the guy -- what's the chance we could have a relationship?
Is there an easy way to ask someone how many partners they've had?
What's the average number of sexual partners for men and women?
Why do some men insist on pushing your head down onto their crotch when you're making out?
Couldn't they be more subtle?
How do I persuade my girlfriend to agree to a threesome?
What should I tell her?
How can I talk about improving my girlfriend's sexual technique without hurting her feelings?
What exactly is date rape and how common is it?
Are men generally the ones who end relationships?
I have a history of cheating on my boyfriends. Should I tell my new partner about my past?
Dumping by phone...fax...texting...IM...what's the protocol?
Has technology influenced the way we communicate about sex?
Do people seriously hook up with other people they meet online?
Although I have a girlfriend, I've been flirting by text message with another woman. Does this count as cheating?
Is there any difference between the sexes when it comes to text messaging?
Does messaging help men avoid rejection?
A guy I'm seeing basically refuses to talk to me
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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Excerpts

The Physical Basics: From
Tubes to Testes

Despite supposedly having received mandated sex education in public middle and high school, most Americans actually know very little about reproductive anatomy. Some people blame this ignorance on a conservative movement that pushes the mantra of "abstinence-only-until-marriage" education (and I use the term "education" loosely), but even the opponents of sex education grudgingly allow a little anatomy to slide into the curriculum. However, the more likely culprits of this ignorance are the two most common, but all too dubious sources we go to for information on sex: peers and the media.

Friends telling friends about sex has a warm ring to it, but let's be fair, these are the same friends who routinely have one-night stands, get too drunk to use contraceptives, use grape jelly because they're out of K-Y, and refuse to use condoms because they'd never have sex with someone who had an infection. The media is also an endless source of useless information, particularly prime-time television, where the message is loud and clear -- only extremely attractive people actually have sex, and the rest of us must live vicariously through who and what we see on our television screens. And the sex we see is usually spontaneous, contraception optional (let's not ruin the moment), with negative consequences never amounting to anything more than fleeting regret. Oh, if only life could be so forgiving.

This section of the book will deal with who has what parts and what function those parts serve. This section will not be divided into male parts and female parts as I feel strongly that we should all know much more about each other.

Is man's largest sexual organ the penis?

Fortunately not. The largest sexual organ of all humans is not located between our legs but between our ears -- it's the brain. Our large brain distinguishes humans from every other species on Earth, and to a great extent, controls our sexual response. (Although some people think a man's brain is jammed into his penis until he reaches the age of thirty, by which time the brain manages to crawl up into his cranium, despite all too common bouts of suction in the opposite direction.)

How do humans compare to other primates with regard to the penis?

Compared to our closest relatives, other primates, a human's penis is much larger, both in length and girth. The average human male's penis even trumps that of a huge, hairy gorilla. This fact should make some of us feel a whole lot better!

Does size matter?

For vaginal intercourse, anything around 2.5 inches can get the job done because a woman has no nerve endings on the inner part of the vagina, and most sexual sensation is derived from the clitoris, which is external. There is little or no established information on the implications of penis size for either anal or oral sex. What should be remembered is that the stimulus for most of our sexual response is psychologically influenced. So if someone happens to have a predetermined affinity for a particularly large penis, then his or her response to a smaller member might prove less than satisfying.

Does girth matter?

Great question. Girth may actually be more important than length. We've just stated that the vagina has its majority of nerve endings in the outer part of the organ, so perhaps length is less of an issue. In addition, don't forget, the legendary G-spot, which is located on the upper vaginal wall and is stimulated primarily by pressure that would be more likely to occur if the penis was thicker. Remember, the vagina is an elastic organ that can expand to allow a baby to pass through during childbirth and yet also hold a relatively slim tampon during menstruation -- the implications for adapting to various penis widths are obvious.

Is it possible for a penis to be too large?

From a male perspective, this may sound impossible, but once you get past the testosterone and the ridiculous visual imagery of Stallion Boy, having an incredibly large penis could be a problem. Some heterosexual women have complained that a large penis can be very painful in certain sexual positions to say nothing of an obvious gag refl ex problem when performing oral sex. So, yes, too big can be too much.

What is the normal size of a penis?

"Anything two inches less than mine" is the typical male's answer, and he's sticking to it! There are several studies in existence, but the problems surrounding an accurate measurement of the penis via self-reporting are all too obvious. In nearly every penis-measurement survey where men self-report the data, the reported average size of the penis is larger than the result of studies done through observation and direct measurement. What a surprise! For a study that involves getting a boner in a lab setting, wouldn't the volunteers be men who have larger penises? Isn't it unlikely that Mr. Microphallus will show up to publicly display his shortfall?

Alfred Kinsey had a collection of thirty-five hundred sets of penile measurements. The longest authenticated measurement of an erect penis according to his records was 10.5 inches, with the average erect length being 6.2 inches. More recently, in an attempt to address this eternal question, the American Urological Association established a guideline that suggests the average penis is 3.5 inches long when flaccid and grows to an average of 5.1 inches when erect. (I can predict the sighs of relief and gasps of elation as some of you arrive at this point of the book to realize you have more than you need.) The circumference is an average 3.9 inches, which expands to 4.9 inches when erect. The learned doctors of genitalia made the day for many a man when they announced that the "normal" length for a penis would be anything above 2.8 inches when erect. This figure takes into account a wide range of lengths in addition to the minimum length anticipated to provide satisfactory sexual intercourse.

Is it true that you can tell how big a man's penis is by the size of his shoes?

Don't be ridiculous. But I'd like to think you can tell a man's penis size by the car he drives. The bigger the car, the smaller the penis -- a big sorry to those damn Hummer drivers. I, naturally, drive a Mini Cooper. I really do.

Is it true that certain races or ethnic groups have larger penises?

Another interesting question. I must preface my answer by stating that it's based on urban legend rather than fact. There are very few studies that can answer this question accurately, and again, researchers run into methodological problems. One study looked at condom breakage rates, making the assumption that the ethnic group with the most breakages must therefore have the biggest penises. But what if that particular group had a disproportionate number of men who were lousy condom users, and the condom breakage had nothing to do with penis size? The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the followingwidthsizes for condoms distributed geographically: 5.3 centimeters (cm) wide for Africa, 5.2 cm wide for Europe, and 4.9 cm wide for Asia. (No numbers in evidence for the Americas.) The differences in size are statistically very small and support the concept that while there will be an obvious range of size within each group, there is no evidence to support the idea that one ethnic group has a substantially larger penis size than any other.

Does penis circumcision make any difference during sex?

A growing body of evidence has gradually eroded the belief that male circumcision is a necessary procedure, and despite earlier concerns over various health issues, the consensus seems to be that circumcision, at least for medical reasons, is unnecessary. In the United States, rates of infant circumcision ranged between 80-90 percent during the 1970s but that proportion has since decreased to around 60 percent. Other countries refl ect much lower percentages: Canada 35, Australia 13, England 6 and Scandinavian countries around 2 percent.

There's no research to suggest that sexual satisfaction with or without a foreskin is any different for men or women. In fact, when an uncircumcised man's penis is erect, the foreskin is drawn back and his penis looks exactly the same as the penis of a circumcised man. Many people circumcise their male infants for religious reasons, but that reason aside, in a world where men are obsessed with penis size, I'm always surprised that we would take the trouble to trim off a few centimeters. Who knows when you might be glad of that little bit extra?

OK, you say it doesn't matter, but do women prefer circumcised penises?

What's best, a snail wearing a helmet or a snake wearing a sweater? I've heard preferences for both the circumcised and uncircumcised penis. Some women prefer the more streamlined look of the penis minus the foreskin while others laud the excitement of the "natural" penis, suggesting that with the foreskin there's more going on and more to play with. The bottom line is, it's not what you have but what you do with it.

Does all semen taste the same?

Although there is no defi nitive research on this issue, subjectively speaking there is a theory that the types of food a man eats can affect the taste of his semen. If the theory (and it is only a theory) holds true, it seems that vegans will have the most pleasant-tasting semen, as fruits seem to be the least offensive food, while meats can be less desirable. Here are a few examples of how different foods might affect taste:

  • Semen can be sweetened by drinking lots of pineapple juice or eating bananas or papayas.
  • Red meat can make the semen taste more acidic.
  • Alcohol or coffee can make semen taste more bitter.
  • Garlic, onions -- both have a high sulfur content that can make your semen taste bitter.
  • Cinnamon reportedly sweetens the taste of semen.

Is semen high in calories?

A typical amount of ejaculate is about one teaspoon, although the actual volume can vary, mainly influenced by the last time the man ejaculated. Semen is not high in calories as 90 percent is made up of water, with other ingredients including proteins, carbohydrate enzymes, cholesterol, and trace amounts of iron and zinc. The simple sugars that provide the sperm with food on their long journey amount to about five or six calories. Oral sex will not make you fat!

Is semen high in protein?

The amount of protein in semen is very small, probably no more than about six milligrams. One urban legend suggested that semen contained as much protein as a pork chop -- hardly. A small pork chop would typically contain as much as twenty-four grams of protein, dwarfi ng the amount found in semen.

Is it true that swallowing semen reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers?

Yes, and swallowing also increases your IQ, makes your hair shine, and guarantees that you'll win a gold medal in GULLIBILITY. The initial purveyor (and his fellow distributors) of this "seminal" information had to be a man. He gets points for the sheer balls of using an outrageous line like that. And who knows, maybe it's even worked once. Why not? I mean, come on, he's doing you a favor. By providing you his semen (free of charge) -- that can only be extracted from his body through fellatio -- he's actually protecting you from cancer. What a guy. There could be a Nobel prize in this for him. And the long-awaited answer to this question would be a profound no.

What's the hymen and what does it do?

The hymen is a membrane that covers the opening to the vagina, and its presence has been traditionally associated with virginity. In "days of old" checking the intact condition of the hymen to confirm a woman's chastity and purity was not an unusual occurrence. Like other body parts, the hymen is variable in nature, meaning in some women it is thicker and more strongly attached, in others very flimsy and easily torn, and in some, is nonexistent. Its purpose, in an evolutionary sense, was probably to provide some rudimentary form of protection to the opening of the vagina. However, realistically, the hymen would certainly provide no protection from a marauding penis and so has little practical function.

Can you tell if a woman is a virgin?

The presence or absence of a hymen, a membrane that covers the opening to the vagina, doesn't prove whether or not a woman has had sex before. Despite being a historical symbol of chastity, many hymens have broken and disintegrated long before a young woman has intercourse for the first time. However, in some societies where female virginity is especially highly prized, the practice of hymen reconstruction has evolved. The hymen reconstruction surgeon takes a very sheer piece of animal membrane, lightly sutures it across the opening of the vagina, and voilà, she's a virgin -- again. (This is your first example of how women are much smarter about sex than men.)

A man thinks he knows three things about a female's loss of virginity: there will be pressure (because of the hymen); there will be bleeding; and, inevitably, there will be pain.

When the wedding night arrives, "Jack the lad" leaps into his connubial bed only too anxious to deflower his young bride and rightfully claim, to use the male vernacular, her cherry. Makes him sound like a damn fruit picker, but that's guys for you. Intercourse begins and, yes, there's some pressure as the new hymen is tested; there will inevitably be a small amount of blood as the sutures give way, and the bride doesn't have to be Meryl Streep to emit some convincing wails of pain. So there we have it...pressure, blood, pain, another maiden defl owered, a man's honor satisfi ed. It doesn't get any better than that. There is no easy way to accurately determine whether or not a woman is a virgin.

What is the clitoris, and how will I know it when I see it?

Ah, the age-old question -- and if you think this question is difficult, wait until we try locating the G-spot. An important point for men to understand is that just as all penises don't look the same, clitorises can also look slightly different from one woman to another. The clitoris is a small, flesh-colored projection located at the apex of the labia minora (inner vaginal lips), and in most cases you can't actually see the clitoral glans (the length or body of the clitoris) as it's often hidden beneath some skin called the clitoral hood. When a woman becomes sexually aroused her clitoris becomes engorged with blood and is more visibly erect. The clitoris is unique to the female in that its role is purely to provide sexual stimulation. Men may argue that their penis does the same thing, but they would be forgetting that occasional urination thing. Because the clitoris is made up of some of the same erectile tissue found in the penis, it is capable of erection when stimulated. Though much smaller than the penis, the clitoris has twice the number of nerve endings, and in fact has a higher concentration of nerves than anywhere else on the body.

Are most women shaving their pubic hair these days?

For the past few years more and more young women are shaving off their pubic hair. How did this trend begin? I've no idea, but what has become apparent is that many young women seem to almost equate pubic hair with uncleanliness, to the point where they make a face when you even mention that hair! These women are a far cry from their predecessors in the sixties where hair everywhere was de rigueur. Today's trend of being a slave to the Brazilian wax provides an alarmingly prepubescent look that I suppose provides great protection against crabs -- nowhere for those little darlings to congregate!

Do women prefer men to shave too?

Through my research I've established that many women prefer a man who, in female-speak, is "well groomed." Because of this burgeoning perception that pubic hair is messy and unwanted, many women do not want a male whose crotch looks like a hairy monkey's rear end. Some men have imitated their female counterparts and removed all offending hair, but many have simply trimmed back the pubes hoping, undoubtedly, to give off an air of sophisticated, well-manicured genital urbanity. A Web site extolling the virtues of a shaven male body exists (www.shaveeverywhere.com), although the site -- owned by Philips -- might have as much to do with marketing their body-grooming razor as offering a commentary on the wonders of a hairless body.

Does the anus have a G-spot?

What you're referring to is the male's prostate gland. The gland lies about three or four inches into the anus, on the other side of the anal wall. This little gland is what every lucky man over forty years of age gets to have his doctor rub once a year as part of a search for lumps and possible prostate cancer. Men who have experienced this magical moment have described the sensation as a combination of wanting to urinate and ejaculate at the same time. Let's just say some men are a little unsettled by the whole procedure. Having said that, many men also enjoy incorporating a little prostate massage into sexual play; hence the notion that the anus might have a G-spot.

Does everyone masturbate?

Certainly the old joke for males is that 95 percent of men reported being masturbators and the other 5 percent lied! For women, the estimates are somewhat lower. The most telling feature of Kinsey's data on masturbation was men's obsession with appearing "normal." The men in the study were asked to report how often they masturbated and how often they thought most men masturbated. Whatever number the male reported for his own masturbation, the perceived norm was always a few times more. So for a man who reported masturbating three times a week, the perceived average was fi ve, but for the man who masturbated a hundred times weekly, the perceived average was 105! Examining how often people masturbate, a 2006 survey of American 21-49-year-olds commissioned byEsquireandMarie Clairemagazines reported that on average men masturbated 4.9 times weekly versus 2.8 times for women. I guess men must have more time on their hands!

Why do people masturbate?

There are any number of different reasons why people masturbate: curiosity, pleasure, boredom, stress reduction, response to sexual stimulation, and sometimes as a substitute for an absent partner. The idea thatmostpeople masturbate because they don't have a current or available sexual partner is actually a myth. In fact, individuals who have regular sexual intercourse tend to masturbate as much or more than people who have no one. Masturbation tends to be more of a complement to sexual intercourse rather than a substitute. Most males in particular tend to continue the habit (vocation?) even while in sexual relationships.

Is it possible to masturbate too much?

Many adolescent males routinely test the outer limits of masturbatory endurance with Mother Nature reining them in before cardiac arrest occurs. Some individuals do lapse into a habitual pattern, seemingly unable to stop themselves from almost constant selfstimulation. While working in a college clinic I spoke with a male student who was masturbating about six to eight times daily and was upset because his penis seemed to be losing its responsiveness (no shit!). To heighten the feeling, he had taken to rubbing raw alcohol on his penis, turning his unfortunate member into a rather eye-catching pound of ground beef. Obviously, this young man's behavior was a little extreme and his immediate discomfort was due more to the rubbing alcohol than the rubbing. But if any habitual activity gets in the way of your day job (or your penis more closely resembles tonight's dinner), then I think we can safely say you're probably overdoing it!

Are men who masturbate more likely to prematurely ejaculate?

Nothing about the act of masturbation will cause a man to prematurely ejaculate. However, under circumstances where a younger male is constantly rushing to complete his masturbatory activities quickly -- perhaps because his mother may walk into the bathroom, or his father may catch him penis andPlayboyin hand, this behavior pattern could be transferred to sexual intercourse, at least initially. The focus on rushing would be the culprit in this case, not the masturbation.

What's all this about prostate cancer and can I do anything to prevent it?

There has been a great deal of recent publicity about prostate cancer and this disease has become one of the most common forms of cancer in American men. Men's prostate glands typically grow in size as they age, and in some cases the growth is cancerous. Many nutritionists recommend eating more low-fat foods or adding supplements like saw palmetto and zinc to your diets, but all that is very boring. The best news of all comes from an Australian study. Researchers found that men who masturbated several times a week, particularly during their late teens and twenties, were less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who kept their hands in their pockets. Now, I know that the average young man is already on a strict masturbatory regimen, but this study makes it offi cial. You have to do it for the good of your health; it's doctor's orders.

If I have a vasectomy, will I ejaculate anything?

When a vasectomy is performed, the two vessels (vas deferens) that transport sperm to the ejaculatory duct are cut, so that sperm cannot get into the male's semen. So, the answer is, men who have had vasectomies will still ejaculate semen; it will simply not contain sperm. The volume of semen is made up in the following proportions: nearly 70 percent seminal vesicle fluid, nearly 30 percent prostate fluid, and less than 1 percent is sperm. If two guys (one of whom had received a vasectomy) masturbated, when they ejaculated, it would be impossible to determine which one had received the vasectomy just by looking at the semen with the naked eye. Now, if we got out a microscope and looked for some "swimmers," that would be a different story.

My boyfriend's penis seems to curve to one side when he's hard. Is that weird?

Many men have a penis that curves slightly to the right or left when erect. As long as the curve isn't too great, insertion shouldn't be a problem. Some men have a condition called Peyronie's disease which results in an extremely curved penis and could make insertion a huge problem. If you suspect that a problem exists, always consult a medical practitioner.

Is it normal that my girlfriend's breasts are different sizes?

It's very common for women to have slightly different breasts with regard to size and appearance. Breasts, like many other body parts, don't come in designer sets with identical precision. We just think they do after seeing so many perfect supermodels, whose slight bodily discrepancies have been carefully airbrushed away. Guess what? It's not unusual for a man to have slightly different-sized testicles too. I don't think anybody really cares about that either.

Is there any truth to the blue balls rumor, or is this an urban legend?

Ah, blue balls, the old male excuse to justify an absolute need for sexual intercourse, the inference being that if a man didn't have sex with his partner, his testicles would be so backed up with unused sperm that they would literally turn blue, and according to many a desperate suitor, quite possibly explode. I have no evidence to suggest that any young women have actually fallen for such a preposterous line, as even the most innocent of teens surely realized that a couple of very quick flicks of the wrist would have released the young man's genital tensions. There is of course a grain of truth to this theory in that if a male has an erection for some time, he will inevitably feel a buildup of pressure as his prostate fluid, seminal vesicle fluid, and sperm prepare for ejaculation. He may indeed feel an aching in his penis and testicles. But again, to remedy this problem would take only seconds, and even in the absence of such a release there is no documentation that any man's testicles have ever turned blue, far less exploded.

Do women experience the same "blue balls" feeling?

Absolutely. If a woman is sexually aroused for some time without achieving an orgasm, she will experience what we just described for men. This uncomfortable frustration in women has not been acknowledged in the same way it has for men, so no fancy name has been developed. I think it only fair to give this condition a name, so we'll call it "blue clit." Given men's proclivity for being unable to last twenty-four hours without some form of sexual release, any form of sexual release, it's my belief that there are thousands more cases of blue clit than there are of blue balls. It's all a matter of perspective.

Does too much testicular heat decrease sperm production?

Testicles are located outside of the body to optimize sperm development. A man's scrotal temperature is about 2-3° C lower than internal body temperatures, and sperm production requires these lower temperatures. Some men have taken this information to an extreme by sitting in very hot baths in an attempt to create their own method of contraception. Although evidence exists that sitting in a bath of hot water for thirty minutes can in some cases decrease sperm production for a few weeks, sitting in your hot tub or sauna is not recommended as an effective method of contraception. Tight clothing and underwear that draw the testes up close to the body may also contribute to decreased sperm production, spawning the briefs versus boxers argument. Undoubtedly, some rock stars from the eighties must have suffered from decreased sperm production as they insisted on wearing pants so tight you could actually tell their religion!

Can smoking marijuana affect a man's sperm production?

There is clear evidence that smoking marijuana on a daily basis can decrease a man's sperm production, although his sperm count will usually return to a normal range once the smoking ends or becomes less frequent. In addition to sperm production, research suggests that sperm function, namely sperms' ability to swim, can also be negatively affected by chronic marijuana use. Again, becoming a chronic pothead is not recommended as a means of contraception.

Is it true that the average man's sperm count has decreased over the past fi fty years?

More than one research study has confi rmed that over the past thirty years both the quantity and quality of sperm have decreased in men during this period. Research has shown that while the volume of semen has remained constant or declined slightly, the concentration of sperm has decreased significantly. Reasons for the decline are debatable but include the rise of environmental pollution, hormone presence in foods, and alcohol and drug use.

One useful factoid: If you're a woman who is trying to get pregnant, go to Finland. A recent study of sperm count conducted in three European countries revealed that the Finns have got it going on! Finnish men had a higher sperm count than men from Great Britain or Denmark, in addition to boasting a higher overall volume of semen.

Can sex count as exercise or be used for any type of athletic training?

If you're asking if sex will keep you as healthy and in shape as working out, unfortunately the answer is no. Although a vigorous bout of sweaty sex will get your heart pumping and muscles working, andCosmoandEllewould have you believe that half an hour's sex can burn anywhere from fifty to two hundred calories, you shouldn't give up your training routine just yet. Let's look at this the other way around. Will an effective workout regimen possibly make sex better? You bet! Working on cardiovascular fitness, stretching, and muscle strengthening will all contribute to a better sex life. Heart health will ensure efficient blood flow to the genital area, which is essential for a man's erection and a woman's vaginal lubrication; and good muscle tone will obviously help with fl exibility and agility. Your early-morning workout routine may not be as much fun as sex, but not only will it make you healthier, it might just improve the quality of your sex.

Is sex good for your physical health?

Trying to prove that sex improves or worsens your physical health is almost impossible, but there are a few studies to suggest that it can't hurt! A recent Welsh study suggested that men who had sex twice a week or more experienced half as many heart attacks after a ten-year period, compared with men who had sex less than once a month. An interesting Scottish study also linked frequency of intercourse in married men to greater longevity, and additional recent studies seem to hint that more frequent ejaculation (2-3 times weekly) might reduce a man's risk for developing prostate cancer. There is also some evidence that orgasms can help alleviate women's menstrual cramping and substantially increase their pain threshold, while another study suggests, somewhat incredibly, that women who perform oral sex and swallow their partners' semen have a reduced risk for developing preeclampsia, a dangerously high blood-pressure condition that can occur during pregnancy. That particular finding seems, dare I say it, hard to swallow.

Can sex help my mental health?

Absolutely. Most psychologists would argue that sexual intercourse helps with mental health on many levels. Closeness and intimacy with another person help develop a sense of security and well-being, and during sex the brain releases dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters that create a feeling of euphoria. Researchers have described how female orgasms boost levels of estrogen, which can help better their moods, and the production of a hormone called oxytocin that promotes feelings of intimacy increases to five times its normal level at climax. Let's face it; having sex can put you in a great mood.

Copyright © 2008 by Robin Sawyer


Excerpted from Sexpertise: Real Answers to Real Questions about Sex by Robin Sawyer
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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