The "Magical" Properties of Semen
Several years ago, a SUNY Albany study linked unprotected sex with elevated mood in college-aged women. The researchers surveyed nearly 300 female students about both their sexual practices and their mood. The results were striking -- women who reported engaging regularly in oral sex or unprotected sexual intercourse reported as being happier (as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory) than those who used condoms during intercourse or abstained from sex altogether.
The authors suggested that semen might be a natural mood-elevator. After all, it contains chemicals like estrone, oxytocin, cortisol, serotonin and melatonin, stuff that is linked to better mood, increased affection and better sleep. Yet, they knew that they could not claim causality. Even the study's title, "Does Semen Have Anti-Depressant Properties?" left the result as more of an interesting question than a foregone conclusion.
Yet that didn't stop the media from running with the idea that bareback sex might be the cure for what ails you. They heralded semen as Mother Nature's natural anti-depressant--you can imagine the fun blog posts and late night talk show jokes. And for some reason, just this week, the study has gotten a new set of legs--and is being reported again on sites like Gawker.
I can only think it's because a new study from University of Saskatchewan scientists suggests that semen can "magically" trigger ovulation.
While the SUNY Albany study offers a lot more questions than answers (for example, are women who are having unprotected sex more likely to be in long-term relationships or involved in some other activity that might explain that correlation with elevated mood?), the Saskatchewan project gives us some harder science to ponder.
Gregg Adams, lead author of the paper, discovered that a protein called the ovulation-inducing factor (OIF) sends a signal to the female brain to release hormones. Those hormones then set up the body to ovulate, no matter where in her cycle that female might be. He first saw it 10 years ago in camels. And since this protein is also one that's been shown to play an important role in normal neuron function, he was intrigued.
Adams and colleagues have now shown that this protein helps to stimulate ovulation in other mammals including llamas, koalas, rabbits and cats, elegantly documenting how OIF signals the brain to cue up ovulation.
I find this study very interesting (and, as a woman, admittedly, vaguely frightening). This work, of course, has potential implications for our understanding of fertility and infertility--and may also identify new targets for contraception. It might also explain a lot of so-called "Ooops" babies.
So I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that semen contains some bit of "magic," as some media mentions have suggested. Yet I think these studies suggest that biology often has tricky little back-up plans in place to ensure, one way or another, we successfully reproduce. What do you think?
Credit: Peeradach Rattanakoses/Shutterstock.com
Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.
- Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
- In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Going back to the moon will give us fresh insights about the creation of our solar system.
- July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — Apollo 11.
- Today, we have a strong scientific case for returning to the moon: the original rock samples that we took from the moon revolutionized our view of how Earth and the solar system formed. We could now glean even more insights with fresh, nonchemically-altered samples.
- NASA plans to send humans to a crater in the South Pole of the moon because it's safer there, and would allow for better communications with people back on Earth.
Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds.
- Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade.
- Higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black may be the cause.
- These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.
Jokesters and serious Area 51 raiders would be met with military force.
- Facebook joke event to "raid Area 51" has already gained 1,000,000 "going" attendees.
- The U.S. Air Force has issued an official warning to potential "raiders."
- If anyone actually tries to storm an American military base, the use of deadly force is authorized.