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Surprising Science

A New Sexual Vocabulary For a Modern World

As soon as we even breathe the word “sex” here in the Big Think office, headlines hop off the Google newswire fast enough to make even a liberal blogger wince. Here are a few new words for your sexual vocabulary.

Vaginal weightlifting

Bonk author Mary Roach clued us into some south-of-the-navel calisthenics during her visit to Big Think. To strengthen the kegel muscles, Roach described a “two-sided doorknob”–the official name is “vaginal barbell”–women use to tone the muscles that form the vaginal floor.

Health benefits from vaginal weight lifting include speedier childbirth and increased satisfaction during coitus. Men can also work on their kegels via a technique Roach called “lift, lift, lift.”

Nursing Home Sex

Roach also confirmed some rumors we had heard relative to sex among the aged. More private nursing homes are seeing high rates of sexual activity. And as sex in nursing homes is becoming more accepted, there is a concurrent spike in STD’s, which spread quickly in a population that preceded the era of safe sex by generations.

Roach also noted one fact of longevity that may contribute to the phenomenon. “You’ve got a situation…where there’s a lot more women than men”

Semen Displacement Theory

File under one of the stranger nuggets to cross our science desk. It seems there is a theory afoot in reproductive anatomy circles that the penis has evolved as something of a snowplow for stray semen.

One of the world’s foremost experts on semen displacement Gordon Gallup told Scientific American:

“When most uncircumcised males achieve an erection it pulls the foreskin back over the glans and back down the shaft of the penis, enabling the coronal ridge to do its business and scoop rival males’ semen away from the woman’s cervix.”

While some readers may be wondering just where their coronal ridge lies, consider this:

“Because circumcision reduces the diameter of the shaft immediately behind the glans and accentuates the coronal ridge, we’ve speculated that the practice of circumcision may have unwittingly modified the penis in ways that enable it to function as a more effective semen displacement device.”

There you have it. American males, the majority of whom are circumcised, have a distinct advantage over cultures with low or no circumcision practices.

Though semen displacement will probably not be field tested by many male readers (consider the required preconditions), it does shed some light on some much-pondered anatomy.

Further Reading and Engagement:

Circumcision Reference Library

Vaginal Weights, the internet’s number one destination for the kegel’s

Atlas of Human Sexual Anatomy (out of print), Roach’s preferred manual from 1933


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