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Slippery Slope: Government Regulation of Sex Toys

Last month in Canada, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, a Liberal Minister of Parliament, sent a letter to the Conservative Federal Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, expressing concern about the sex toy industry and asking the government to take action in regulating sex toys.

The letter, which you can read in its entirety here, read, in part:

I am writing to express my concern for the urgent need for responsible regulation in the adult toy industry. In Canada, we are not yet doing enough to protect women against the very high concentratuons of materials linked to reproductive and other health issues.

… Our current legislation is insufficient. There are safe alternatives to pththalates and [bisphenol A] that are readily available.

It sounds like a good idea, right? Like they say on Facebook: It’s Complicated.

I’m gonna turn it over now to Cory Silverberg, blogger at About.com’s Sexuality Guide, who’s written about this topic at length:

In order to regulate sex toys first one needs to define the product category for proposed regulation. What qualifies as a sex toy? Currently in the U.S. sex toys are defined legally in some states (often as devices intended for genital stimulation). But they don’t exist as a defined category by health regulators. The same is true for many other countries where the term “sex toys” won’t be found in legal or regulatory documentation.

Even among sex toy retailers and manufacturers terms like dildo, vibrator, penis ring, butt plug can mean very different things. Is a sex toy defined by how it’s intended use? How it’s commonly used? Is a sex toy defined by who uses it or what kinds of bodies it gets used on? There is no generally agreed upon taxonomy of sex toys. There isn’t even an organization or body (public or private) that would be in a position to develop such a taxonomy.

But until we’re there, I’m certainly not comfortable with a government deciding what is and isn’t a sex toy, and regulating the products they think are while ignoring the products they decide aren’t.

And that’s just the beginning. Read his impassioned piece Why Government Regulation of Sex Toys Is a Bad Idea.

I’m with Silverberg on this one. I believe in educating consumers and leaving the government out of as much as humanly possible. But then, I’m a conservative. That’s just how we roll. Or used to. Yeah, yeah.

Jury’s Still Out On “Sex Addiction”

December 25, 2009 Health, News, Research No Comments

Sexual addiction–if dinner parties had trending topics, this would rank first this holiday season.

We told you about Dr. Drew’s new show Sex Rehab, about eight people dealing with issues stemming from their addiction to sex, last month and just recently one of our writers wrote a scathing critique of the classification of Tiger Woods’ multiple affairs as sexual addiction.

Everyone seems to be talking about this new pandemic, but some experts are not so sure this ailment is legit.

A piece in Forbes recently explored the matter:

No such diagnosis is even recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), psychiatry’s Bible. The DSM-IV assiduously avoids the word “addiction,” preferring to talk about dependence, withdrawal and compulsion. A new condition, called hypersexuality, might be something close, but some psychiatrists bristle at the idea of talking about human sexuality as an addictive force unto itself.

Craig Fabrikant, a clinical psychologist at Hackensack University Medical Center, says that he doesn’t believe that sex addiction exists in the same way that alcohol or cocaine addiction does. Real disorders, however, might cause behavior that is interpreted as sex addiction. For example, someone in the manic phase of bipolar disorder can be overly sexual, and a person with obsessive compulsive disorder might look at pornography frequently.

The idea of sex addiction, however, got a big boost in 1983 with the publication of a book called Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., who has treated patients with the disorder at several clinics. The idea is that because sex releases dopamine in the brain and provides a momentary high just as many drugs do, problematic sexual behavior could be understood as being very much like a chemical dependency.

But is compulsive sexuality really similar to pathological gambling or even compulsive shopping? One small brain-imaging study says maybe not. Researchers at the University of Minnesota compared eight people who had been diagnosed with hypersexuality with others who had been diagnosed with impulse-control disorders like gambling or attention deficit disorder. There was also a control group.

The subjects were asked to look at a flashing letter on a screen, and quickly press a button if they saw any letter other than “X.” Patients who have impulse disorders usually press the button more often; this held true for both the patients who had traditional problems as well as the sexually compulsive people.

Things changed, however, when the researchers had their subjects do this task inside an MRI machine. People with impulse disorders had reduced activity in the bottom front of the brain (as seen in previous experiments), but the people with sexual disorders had reduced activity at the top front of the brain, indicating that something different was going on.

Michael H. Miner, one of the University of Minnesota researchers, cautions that his study is too small to draw any firm conclusions.

“There’s a lot of conceptual writing, there’s a lot of theoretical writing, there’s not a great deal of empirical data,” Miner says. “If this is a disorder, what is it? Is this really a disorder at all, or is it a series of symptoms that are part of something else?”

The truth is we don’t know.

Read the entire article at Forbes.

Cell Phones Might Break Your Sperm!

bluetooth

Not only are Bluetooth headsets the ultimate sign of douchebaggery, keeping your phone in talk mode in your pocket while you use your hands’ free device may screw up your sperm, too.

Awesome, now you’re doubly less of a man.

“We found increased oxidative stress and a decrease in sperm motility,” said Dr. Ashok Agarwal, the director of Reproductive Research at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

What that means, basically, is that there’s an overall decrease in quality. How does this happen? A phone in use emits high-power radiofrequency electromagnetic waves, which negatively impact semen production. (Not good enough for you? Go read all the specifics right here).

“At this time I would say excessive use should be avoided,” Agarwal said.

But it’s not like you’re one of those douchebags who wear Bluetooth sets 24/7, are you? Yeah, we didn’t think so.

Information from Renal and Urology News. Image of Brad Pitt from Wired.

More Baby Daddy Sperm For Mom Means Healthier Spawn

A study from New Zealand has uncovered a correlation between a woman’s prolonged exposure to the semen of her baby’s father serves to protect her against pregnancy-induced hypertension and having an undersized baby.

In this study by Kho and colleagues at the University of Auckland, which was published in the Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 2,507 first-time pregnant women were interviewed about the length of their relationship with their babies’ biological fathers.

When the pregnancies came to term, pregnancy-induced hypertension was found to be less common in women who had long-term sexual relations exclusively with the biological father, than in those who had been with their partner only for less than six months.

The study also revealed that women who had undersized babies were also more likely to have been in shorter relationships with the father, but only when 20-week ultrasounds demonstrated reduced blood flow to the fetus.

Dr. Larry Chamley, a reviewer of the study, explained that in normal pregnancies, “prolonged exposure of the female immune system to paternal antigens following intercourse (without barrier contraception) [could induce] tolerance of the maternal immune system to the paternal antigens. But the exaggerated maternal inflammatory response in pre-eclampsia [pregnancy-induced hypertension] is due to a failure of the maternal immune system to down-regulate or tolerate its response to paternal antigens.”

Meaning that if you’re pregnant, more exposure to the father’s makeup enables your body to better tolerate the foreign substance that helped form that baby inside you. You know what that means, right? Enjoy the cum play.

Information via Lemondrop.

Coming Soon: AIDS Vaccine?

November 19, 2009 Health, News No Comments

AIDS. Genital herpes. Urinary tract infections. Many such horrors could be a thing of the past in as little as five years, reports the Huffington Post. With prescription drug sales slowing, capitalism and fear over the Aporkalypse have effectively given the vaccine industry a shot in the arm (har har, I had to, get over it).

“Even if a small portion of everything that’s going on now is successful in the next 10 years, you put that together with the last 10 years (and) it’s going to be characterized as a golden era,” says Emilio Emini, Pfizer Inc.’s head of vaccine research.

Unlike medicines that treat diseases, vaccines help prevent infections by revving up the body’s natural immune defenses against invaders. They are made from viruses, bacteria or parts of them that have been killed or weakened so they generally can’t cause an infection.

The last decade brought breakthrough vaccines against pneumococcal disease and rotavirus – two of the world’s top killers – meningitis, cervical cancer and more.

Better technology to create and mass produce vaccines is bringing progress in preventing tropical dengue fever and new threats like superbugs MRSA and C. difficile, even ending addiction to cocaine and nicotine. Success on some vaccines in development, particularly for Alzheimer’s and AIDS, likely would bring billions a year in sales.

Information via The Huffington Post.

Woman With Medical Condition That Gives Her 300 Orgasms A Day Finds Man To Satisfy Her!

November 17, 2009 Health 1 Comment

Extra! Extra! Leave it to The Daily Telegraph to get you with a header like that.

The Telegraph recounts the story of Michelle Thompson who thought, until recently, that she was simply too demanding for men to keep up with her sex drive. Turns out she has Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome, or PSAS, which sounds hot, until you read in-depth.

First documented in 2001, PSAS is spontaneous and persistent arousal, unrelated to any feelings of sexual desire. Arousal caused by the syndrome can last for days or weeks at a time and can be so intense as to completely disturb the life of the afflicted. Orgasm only provides temporary relief–if any at all.

In The Telegraph‘s piece, Thompson employs the appropriate levity and no time is spent going in-depth to get a sense of what it means to live with PSAS.

Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a professor of surgery at UC San Diego and the head of the Sexual Health Program at Alvarado Hospital, is one of the few researchers studying PSAS today. In an interview with ABC, he described it as: “it’s spontaneous, intrusive, and unwanted genital arousal consisting of throbbing, pulsing or tingling without the person’s sexual interest or desire.”

Dr. Goldstein estimates thousands of women suffer from PSAS, but the actual number is not known because so few seek a doctor’s help — and most doctors do not know about it.

“Every lecture I give on this, there’s always smirks in the audience: ‘Oh I wish my wife was like this.’ These are professional physicians,” Dr. Goldstein said. “And I said, ‘No, no, you’re, you don’t really want this. You do not want your wife to have this, please.’”

Thanks, Telegraph for helping perpetuate a myth.

Students Think Durex Condoms Are Lame

November 14, 2009 Health, News, Safety 1 Comment

The D.C. Council Committee on Health recently conducted a survey of D.C. high school students attitudes about sex ed, which found that students are unimpressed with the curriculum. Surprise, surprise.

What is most interesting about this study to me is not so much that most teens think talking to a school nurse is like talking to their mom, but that they think Durex condoms are lame.

According to The Washington Post:

Durex condoms, the brand widely distributed by the Health Department under a contract, are considered lame and more likely to pop or break, students said. They said they prefer Trojan or Magnum.

Youths “have very strong opinions about particular brands of condoms,” the researchers wrote. “These opinions . . . factually correct or not, play an important role in a youth’s decision to use a product.”

Are you listening, Durex?

Allergic To You

November 13, 2009 Health, News 2 Comments

A man and a woman fall in love. A man and a woman get married. A man and a woman have sex for the first time without a condom. A woman breaks out in hives.

That’s essentially the story of Mike and Julie Boyde, a couple living in Pennsylvania.

“Pretty much right after [he ejaculated], I knew something was not right because I was in a lot of pain,” Julie said in a recent interview with ABC. “The pain that I was feeling was inside, kind of like, somebody was sticking needles up inside of me and like a burning, like really painful burning. Was there something wrong with me? Was there something wrong with him?”

The couple explored the possibility that one of them had a disease but tests revealed nothing wrong with either one of them.

That’s when a friend of the bride’s suggested she might be allergic to her new husband.

“And after they said that, I’m like, you know, it kind of crossed my mind. Could that really be possible? So, I kind of went home that night and did a little research on the computer,” she said.

As it turns out, it is possible to be allergic to another person.

“The body recognizes semen as a foreign protein just as it would recognize a peanut allergen or pollen,” Dr. Andrew Goldstein, director of the Centers for Vulvovaginal Disorders in Annapolis, MD, told ABC. “So you have swelling, you have itching, you have inflammation of the nerve endings.”

She’s not alone: 20,000 to 40,000 may suffer from this condition, known as “seminal plasma hypersensitivity.”

Information from ABC, via The Huffington Post.

Sex-Induced Brain Fade

November 5, 2009 Health, News 1 Comment

Sorry, honey, I have a headache.

Classic excuse to avoid sex. Total crap, right?

Maybe not. Get this–sex is one of the major triggers for transient global amnesia (TGA), a condition that causes people to lose their ability to retain recent memories. How does sex do this? It produces a sudden change in blood flow, which deprives the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for short-term memory.

Dr. Louis Caplan, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, likens the hippocampus to a tape recorder: if blood flow to the brain is restricted, the hippocampus cannot record new memory.

This condition usually occurs in people over 50. Those with a history of migraines and headaches are more likely to get TGA.

Read about how Alice lost her mind after an orgasm.

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Gamers Won’t Be Seduced, Will Stare At Random Cleav Instead

That Steam allows the objectification and sexualization of female characters in a variety of its games but refuses to accept a game about actually engaging with women in a more interactive fashion is astonishingly backward.

FetLife Is Not Safe for Users

That the site doesn’t take measures to protect user content and has shown incompetence or negligence in regard to user privacy, all the while prohibiting victims from warning others about predatory behavior creates an environment where it is nearly impossible for members of the community to take care of themselves and one another. By enabling FetLife to continue espousing a code of silence, allowing the spinning self-created security issues as “attacks,” and not pointing out how disingenuous FetLife statements about safety are, we are allowing our community to become a breeding ground for exploitation.

Why You Should Vote No On Prop 35

Should people who benefit (parents, siblings, children, roommates!) from the earnings of “commercial sex acts” (any sexual conduct connected to the giving or receiving of something of value) be charged with human trafficking? Should someone who creates obscene material that is deemed “deviant” be charged as with human trafficking? Should someone who profits from obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should people transporting obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should a person who engages in sex with someone claiming to be above the age of consent or furnishing a fake ID to this effect be charged with human trafficking? What if I told you the sentences for that kind of conviction were eight, 14 or 20 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $500,000, and life as a registered sex offender?

Pretty and Calls Herself a Geek? Attention Whore!

If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a “geek” is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!). If you somehow manage to succeed, you’ll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Felicia Day. But even then, you’ll be questioned. As a woman, your whole existence within the geek community will be nothing but a series of tests — if you’re lucky. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll be harassed and threatened and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it.

Cuddle Chemical? Moral Molecule? Not So Fast

Zak’s original field, it turns out, is economics, a far cry from the hearts and teddy bears we imagine when we consider his nickname. But after performing experiments on generosity, Zak stumbled on the importance of trust in interactions, which led him, rather inevitably, to research about oxytocin. Oxytocin, you might remember, is a hormone that has been linked previously to bonding — between mothers and children primarily, but also between partners. What Zak has done is take the research a step further, arguing in his recent book, The Moral Molecule, that oxytocin plays a role in determining whether we are good or evil.

How to Avoid Pissing off a Stripper

Let’s talk about the strippers. Whether they like to be half-naked or not, whether they enjoy turning you on or not, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re working. Whether you think that taking one’s clothes off for money is a great choice of career is really beside the point (is it a possibility for you to make $500 per hour at your job without a law degree? Just asking). These women are providing fantasy, yes, but that is their job. And as a patron of the establishment where they work, you need to treat them like you would anyone else who provides a service to you.

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Sex and the 405 is what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

Here you’ll find news about the latest research being conducted to figure out what drives desire, passion, and other sex habits; reviews of sex toys, porn and other sexy things; coverage of the latest sex-related news that have our mainstream media's panties up in a bunch; human interest pieces about sex and desire; interviews with people who love sex, or hate sex, or work in sex, or work to enable you to have better sex; opinion pieces that relate to sex and society; and the sex-related side of celebrity gossip. More...