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The evolutionary puzzle of homosexuality

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In the last two decades, dozens of scientific papers have been published on the biological origins of homosexuality – another announcement was made last week. It’s becoming scientific orthodoxy. But how does it fit with Darwin’s theory of evolution?

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s hit song Same Love, which has become an unofficial anthem of the pro-gay marriage campaign in the US, reflects how many gay people feel about their sexuality.

It mocks those who “think it’s a decision, and you can be cured with some treatment and religion – man-made rewiring of a predisposition”. A minority of gay people disagree, maintaining that sexuality is a social construct, and they have made a conscious, proud choice to take same-sex partners.

But scientific opinion is with Macklemore. Since the early 1990s, researchers have shown that homosexuality is more common in brothers and relatives on the same maternal line, and a genetic factor is taken to be the cause. Also relevant – although in no way proof – is research identifying physical differences in the brains of adult straight and gay people, and a dizzying array of homosexual behaviour in animals.

But since gay and lesbian people have fewer children than straight people, a problem arises.001

“This is a paradox from an evolutionary perspective,” says Paul Vasey from the University of Lethbridge in Canada. “How can a trait like male homosexuality, which has a genetic component, persist over evolutionary time if the individuals that carry the genes associated with that trait are not reproducing?”

Scientists don’t know the answer to this Darwinian puzzle, but there are several theories. It’s possible that different mechanisms may be at work in different people. Most of the theories relate to research on male homosexuality. The evolution of lesbianism is relatively understudied – it may work in a similar way or be completely different.


The genes that code for homosexuality do other things too

The allele – or group of genes – that sometimes codes for homosexual orientation may at other times have a strong reproductive benefit. This would compensate for gay people’s lack of reproduction and ensure the continuation of the trait, as non-gay carriers of the gene pass it down.

There are two or more ways this might happen. One possibility is that the allele confers a psychological trait that makes straight men more attractive to women, or straight women more attractive to men. “We know that women tend to like more feminine behavioural features and facial features in their men, and that might be associated with things like good parenting skills or greater empathy,” says Qazi Rahman, co-author of Born Gay; The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation. Therefore, the theory goes, a low “dose” of these alleles enhances the carrier’s chances of reproductive success. Every now and then a family member receives a larger dose that affects his or her sexual orientation, but the allele still has an overall reproductive advantage.

Another way a “gay allele” might be able to compensate for a reproductive deficit is by having the converse effect in the opposite sex. For example, an allele which makes the bearer attracted to men has an obvious reproductive advantage to women. If it appears in a man’s genetic code it will code for same-sex attraction, but so long as this happens rarely the allele still has a net evolutionary benefit.

There is some evidence for this second theory. Andrea Camperio-Ciani, at the University of Padova in Italy, found that maternal female relatives of gay men have more children than maternal female relatives of straight men. The implication is that there is an unknown mechanism in the X chromosome of men’s genetic code which helps women in the family have more babies, but can lead to homosexuality in men. These results haven’t been replicated in some ethnic groups – but that doesn’t mean they are wrong with regards to the Italian population in Camperio-Ciani’s study.


Gay people were ‘helpers in the nest’

The fa'afafine of Samoa dislike being called "gay" or "homosexual"

The fa’afafine of Samoa dislike being called “gay” or “homosexual”

Some researchers believe that to understand the evolution of gay people, we need to look at how they fit into the wider culture.

Paul Vasey’s research in Samoa has focused on a theory called kin selection or the “helper in the nest” hypothesis. The idea is that gay people compensate for their lack of children by promoting the reproductive fitness of brothers or sisters, contributing money or performing other uncle-like activities such as babysitting or tutoring. Some of the gay person’s genetic code is shared with nieces and nephews and so, the theory goes, the genes which code for sexual orientation still get passed down.

Sceptics have pointed out that since on average people share just 25% of their genetic code with these relatives, they would need to compensate for every child they don’t have themselves with two nieces or nephews that wouldn’t otherwise have existed. Vasey hasn’t yet measured just how much having a homosexual orientation boosts siblings’ reproduction rate, but he has established that in Samoa “gay” men spend more time on uncle-like activities than “straight” men.

“No-one was more surprised than me,” says Vasey about his findings. His lab had previously shown that gay men in Japan were no more attentive or generous towards their nieces and nephews than straight, childless men and women. The same result has been found in the UK, US and Canada.

Vasey believes that his Samoan result was different because the men he studied there were different. He studied the fa’afafine, who identify as a third gender, dressing as women and having sex with men who regard themselves as “straight”. They are a transgender group who do not like to be called “gay” or “homosexual”.

Vasey speculates that part of the reason the fa’afafine are more attentive to their nephews and nieces is their acceptance in Samoan culture compared to gay men in the West and Japan (“You can’t help your kin if they’ve rejected you”). But he also believes that there is something about the fa’afafine way of life that means they are more likely to be nurturing towards nieces and nephews, and speculates that he would find similar results in other “third gender” groups around the world.

If this is true, then the helper in the nest theory may partly explain how a genetic trait for same-sex attraction hasn’t been selected away. That hypothesis has led Vasey to speculate that the gay men who identify as men and have masculine traits – that is to say, most gay men in the West – are descended from men who had a cross-gendered sexuality.


Gay people do have children

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In the US, around 37% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people have a child, about 60% of which are biological. According to the Williams Institute, gay couples that have children have an average of two.

These figures may not be high enough to sustain genetic traits specific to this group, but the evolutionary 002biologist Jeremy Yoder points out in a blog post that for much of modern history gay people haven’t been living openly gay lives. Compelled by society to enter marriages and have children, their reproduction rates may have been higher than they are now.

How many gay people have children also depends on how you define being “gay”. Many of the “straight” men who have sex with fa’afafine in Samoa go on to get married and have children.

“The category of same-sex sexuality becomes very diffuse when you take a multicultural perspective,” says Joan Roughgarden, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Hawaii. “If you go to India, you’ll find that if someone says they are ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ then that immediately identifies them as Western. But that doesn’t mean there’s no homosexuality there.”

Similarly in the West, there is evidence that many people go through a phase of homosexual activity. In the 1940s, US sex researcher Alfred Kinsey found that while just 4% of white men were exclusively gay after adolescence, 10% had a three-year period of gay activity and 37% had gay sex at some point in their lives.

A national survey of sexual attitudes in the UK last year came up with lower figures. Some 16% of women said they had had a sexual experience with another woman (8% had genital contact), and 7% of men said they had had a sexual experience with a man (with 5% having genital contact).

But most scientists researching gay evolution are interested in an ongoing, internal pattern of desire rather than whether people identify as gay or straight or how often people have gay sex. “Sexual identity and sexual behaviours are not good measures of sexual orientation,” says Paul Vasey. “Sexual feelings are.”


It’s not all in the DNA

Qazi Rahman says that alleles coding for same sex attraction only explain some of the variety in human sexuality. Other, naturally varying biological factors come into play, with about one in seven gay men, he says, owing their sexuality to the “big brother effect”.

This has nothing to do with George Orwell, but describes the observation that boys with older brothers are significantly more likely to become gay – with every older brother the chance of homosexuality increases by about a third. No-one knows why this is, but one theory is that with each male pregnancy, a woman’s body forms an immune reaction to proteins that have a role in the development of the male brain. Since this only comes into play after several siblings have been born – most of whom are heterosexual and go on to have children – this pre-natal quirk hasn’t been selected away by evolution.

Exposure to unusual levels of hormone before birth can also affect sexuality. For example, female foetuses exposed to higher levels of testosterone before birth show higher rates of lesbianism later on. Studies show that “butch” lesbian women and men have a smaller difference in length between their index and ring fingers – a marker of pre-natal exposure to testosterone. In “femme” lesbians the difference has been found to be less marked.

Brothers of a different kind – identical twins – also pose a tricky question. Research has found that if an identical twin is gay, there is about a 20% chance that the sibling will have the same sexual orientation. While that’s a greater likelihood than random, it’s lower than you might expect for two people with the same genetic code.

William Rice, from the University of California Santa Barbara, says that it may be possible to explain this 003by looking not at our genetic code but at the way it is processed. Rice and his colleagues refer to the emerging field of epigenetics, which studies the “epimarks” that decide which parts of our DNA get switched on or off. Epimarks get passed on to children, but only sometimes. Rice believes that female foetuses employ an epimark that makes them less sensitive to testosterone. Usually it’s not inherited, but occasionally it is, leading to same-sex preference in boys.

Dr William Byne, editor-in-chief of the journal LGBT Health, believes sexuality may well be inborn, but thinks it could be more complicated than some scientists believe. He notes that the heritability of homosexuality is similar to that for divorce, but “social science researchers have not… searched for ‘divorce genes’. Instead they have focused on heritable personality and temperamental traits that might influence the likelihood of divorce.”

For Qazi Rahman, it’s the media that oversimplifies genetic theories of sexuality, with their reports of the discovery of “the gay gene”. He believes that sexuality involves tens or perhaps hundreds of alleles that will probably take decades to uncover. And even if heterosexual sex is more advantageous in evolutionary terms than gay sex, it’s not only gay people whose sexuality is determined by their genes, he says, but straight people too.

Complete Article HERE!

17 Married People Disclose How Often They Really Have Sex

By Erin Cossetta

As a sexually active, single, 20-something I’m incredibly worried about this. So, naturally, I consulted ask Reddit.

how often sex

1. I guess that’s not that bad?

Truthfully… 3 times a month.

2. This is what I suspected, and I am DYING.

Sadly we are in a pattern of about 4 to 5 times a year. Been together 3.5 yrs. Pregnancies and babies have killed our sex life.

3. Reasonable.

Varies wildly. Some months we’re both so busy that bedtime is sleepytime.

Other times we’re like teenagers, constantly trying to find somewhere to sneak off to for sexytime.

Like all things, there are highs and lows, ebbs and flows.

4. Also what I suspected.

Marriage doesn’t ruin sex. Kids do.

5. IDK.

Married 5 years. Lived together 4 before that. Have sex once a week.

6. Bleak.

Married 18 years. Now divorced. No kids.

Year 1 —- 10-20 times a week.

Year 2 – 3 —- 10 times a month.

Years 3 – 5 —- 5 times a month.

Years 5 – 10 —- 2 times a month.

Years 10 – 15 —- 1 time every month or so.

Years 15 – 18 —- Pity sex twice a year.

I left her because I got tired of her general selfishness in and out of the bedroom. I wanted her everyday until the last day.

7. Hmmmm.

6 years married, 2 kids and a third on the way. Actual intercourse: 3-4 times a week when she’s not pregnant. During pregnancy (like right now), 1-2 times a week. She makes sure I’m taken care of, though, even though her sex drive is decreased right now.

8. Yup.

No kids- married young
Year one: 8 times a week
Year two: 5 times a week
Year three: 3 times a week
Year four: once a week
Year five: 3 times a month
Year six: twice a month
And to be clear, my labido is exactly the same it was 6 years ago, so this decline is very stressful to the relationship.

9. Just one year in…

Married 1 year. Twice a month.

10. Badass.

I’m 27 and my wife is 31 and we have three children. Our 10th anniversary is next month. We do it everyday. Rarely it slips to every other night if we’re busy, but never a longer gap then that.

One time she was mad and we didn’t do it or about 13 days. I thought that was the worst, but reading these comments makes me think I am one of the luckiest husbands out there.

11. Passable.

At least once on the weekends and about 2 times during the week on average. It really just depends how tired we are during the week when we get home. Some weeks we don’t have any. I’ve been married 8 years.

12. Okay.

Been married 18 years, no kids I’m 49, he’s 63–about once a week.

13. Damn.

Married 4 years, 12 times a week. Still groin strong!

14. Oh god.

Married 8 years, 1 kid (7 years old). We have sex once every 2 months on average.

I gave up trying to initiate things a couple years ago. Can only get shut down so many times in a row before it gets old.

Honestly, my mistake was thinking that it is possible to make an unhappy person happy. Now I’d give anything to have a happy person I could make happier.

15. Holy shit. What?

Once every 5 days on average or I turn into a whiny little cry baby and there’s no living with me.

16. Jesus.

Whenever she’s ovulating. nothing more, nothing less.

17. Me too bro…

Like once or twice a month if I’m lucky. Used to be like 2-3 times a day, I miss being a teenager…

Complete Article HERE!

The Real Reason Men Lose Their Erection When Using A Condom

by Raffaello Manacorda

Men Lose Their Erection When Using A Condom

That Awkward Moment When…

If you’re a man, you’ve probably experienced this. Everything is perfect, the foreplay is going great, and the stage is set for a throbbing, mind-blowing, heart-shattering lovemaking. Your erection is strong and powerful, and feeling it turns you on even more.

And then, that moment comes. Your lover looks at you sweetly but squarely in the eyes, and with a soft but firm voice says, “We need to use a condom.”

This makes perfect sense. The risk of STIs and/or pregnancy is real. So you’ve got to wear that condom.

But our genitals don’t understand logic. And, sometimes, it only takes a few seconds of this pause for your penis to soften. Her being sweet and comprehensive only makes things worse: something inside you tells you that you won’t be able to do it if you wear a condom.

I’ve gone through the same process. I used to consistently lose my erection whenever a woman asked me to wear a condom. It wasn’t pretty. I hate to admit it, but a couple of times I even lied to a partner, telling her that there were no condoms in the house, while I actually had plenty. I just was too scared of sexual failure. Boy, am I grateful that no one got an STI or got pregnant because of that dirty little lie of mine.

So why on Earth does this happen? Why do we men lose our erection because of condoms?

The Real Reason Condoms Turn Men Off…

You might try to fool yourself and others with explanations such as:

  • That you don’t feel enough pleasure with a condom.
  • That a condom squeezes your penis too much.
  • That the pause “takes the romance away”…

But deep in your heart, you know that those are not the real reasons.

As for sensitivity and comfort, you know well that your penis is not all that sensitive. In fact, the harder it is, the less sensitive it is. And as for the non-romanticism of the 2-minutes pause, you have fantasized or have been in way less romantic situations, where your erection stood strong and implacable.

So WHAT is the real reason why you lose your erection? And what can you do about it?

To answer this question, the first thing you need to understand is that your main sexual organ sits in between your ears or, if you prefer, inside your chest. It is your head and your heart that turn you on (or off).

So, the reason why we men lose our erection when a woman asks us to wear a condom is that some deeply uncomfortable thought and/or emotion arises in us in response to that request. And what might that thought or feeling be?

Although every man is different, that uncomfortable thought is virtually always a variation on the same theme: she asking you to wear a condom carries the message that she does not accept you inside her body. And this can be truly devastating for a man.

Some Truths About Male Sexuality

Men love to feel invited, welcomed, by a trusting lover that opens up to their force and thrust. When the body of a woman is welcoming, wet, inviting, this is a huge turn-on for a man. When the body and soul of a woman tense, close up, tighten – this is a turn-off.

Men deeply crave to feel accepted, welcomed, and trusted.

The request to wear a condom challenges that. It can seem to convey the following messages:

  • If you don’t wear it, I won’t let you inside me (you’re unwelcome)
  • I don’t trust you to be healthy, or to control your ejaculation (you’re not trusted)

This is the subterranean thought that runs into most men’s mind, and makes them lose their erection.

Understanding it is the first step towards liberating your sexuality from this blockage.

As a man, you need to realize that, even if you wear a condom, you are welcome and accepted. That she wants you just as badly. In fact, she wants you so badly that she wants to be fully trusting and surrendered. And in order for that to happen, she needs to feel safe. This conviction will take some time to build, but once it’s there, it will never leave you. Condoms won’t be an issue anymore.

In order to get there, the best thing to do is start practicing, both by yourself and with a partner.

Practicing By Yourself

Get familiar and friendly with condoms. Buy a pack of condoms and start experimenting. Wear a condom and play with yourself.

Now, I know that the condom instructions say that you should wear it only when you are fully erect. The reason they say this is that if your penis is not fully erect, then a condom can potentially slip away, which is not cool. But for now, you can forget about this. You are alone, and you can wear a condom even if your penis is completely flaccid. In fact, you should practice this skill. Wear a condom on your soft penis, and then stimulate your penis so that it becomes hard.

Familiarize yourself with the condom, and lose your aversion to it. This will be really useful once you practice with a partner.

Practicing With a Partner

This is potentially going to be scary, so you’ll need to set a firm intention: you won’t back off. You will wear a condom no matter what, whether you end up having intercourse or not.

Next time you have the opportunity, do not wait for your partner to propose using a condom. Once you have enjoyed your foreplay long enough, go ahead and say the magic phrase: “I’ll put on a condom now, just in case.”

That means that, whether you are going to penetrate your partner or not, you can wear a condom anyway and then continue with whatever you were doing. At some point you may even forget that you have a condom on.

Your partner also has a role in this. You can ask her to support you in a very simple way: by doing with your penis exactly what she would do with it if there were no condoms. Touching it, sucking it, teasing it—just as if that condom did not exist.

And now, if the moment is ripe for both of you, still wearing your condom, penetrate her. Don’t worry if your erection isn’t that strong. In that case, just make sure to hold the bottom of your condom with your fingers to make sure it doesn’t slip away. But do get yourself to the point where you can penetrate her while still wearing a condom.

This moment is a threshold, and after that, the rest will be much easier. The more you feel that things are going well, the more natural it will become to continue making love with a condom. You will notice that it isn’t all that different from not using it, and that wearing a condom will give both of you more confidence and a feeling of safety. Since you are practicing here, refrain from ejaculating inside your partner, even if you are wearing a condom. The purpose now is to gain confidence with condoms—not necessarily to have the hottest lovemaking of your life.

Every man on this planet should be able to make love with a condom, if necessary. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our partners, men or women. Asking a partner not to use condoms just to protect our sexual pride is not an option. If two lovers decide to not use condoms, let that be a conscious decision, rather than a slippery workaround of a sexual blockage.

Have fun!

Complete Article HERE!

8 lessons for my sexually uneducated teen self

By Scott Roberts

modern_teen

By what I can only assume was an issue with the timetable I ended up having sex education at least three times during my years of education at middle and high school (yes I went to a ‘middle school’).

And for all their effort I remember being confused, uninformed and altogether none the wiser when the teaching staff tried to inform us about the goings on of the birds and the bees, (a saying I actually still don’t fully understand the significance of. Birds don’t have sex with bees as far as I’m aware).

Having a partner who’s part Dutch and who received (in my opinion) the best sex education in the world, thanks to the Netherlands government, I’m taking the time to look back on my sex-ignorance and highlight some of the key things I’d wished I’d known back then.

1 – Porn is not an accurate representation of real bodies or real sex.

I could quote a load of statistics but I think it’s well enough known that my generation are among the first to grow up in a world where pornography is in such easy reach. I can hardly blame my education for being a little slow on the uptake of something relatively new, but for future sex ed it seems essential to incorporate teaching on how we should perceive pornography as fantasy and not based on real sex lives. It also seems more important to bring parents into sex ed to try and bridge the generation gap that the internet has caused.

2. How to properly check yourself.

I remember plenty of talks on what to do to prevent STIs but I cannot remember ever being told what’s healthy and good and what I should look out for in my own body. I learned more about my own body by visiting my GP for an MOT than I did from a whole series of sex education lessons. Even Youtube provided better sex ed than my school ever did thanks to guys like Riyadh K uploading videos on how to check your testicles for cancer – we were never told that in school.

3. Pleasure is one of the most if not the most important part of sex.

Pleasure was completely missed out of our sex education curriculum. There was such a strong emphasis on the adverse effects of sex and the dangers; the risks of STIs and unwanted pregnancy, that its main purpose was more or less completely ignored. An understanding of the body and pleasure seems essential if you’re going to teach sex ed. There is something intrinsically British about being embarrassed when communicating about our own bodies and all the weird and wonderful things they do. That needs to be swept away.

4. Some men have sex with other men and some women have sex with other women.

As a gay man (well, gay boy at the time) I was excluded from most topics covered by our sex ed. Everything catered to a heterosexual norm and the sex lives of gay people, let alone the relationships of gay people, were left well alone. Thank the lord for Queer as Folk.

5. The specific things you can do as a gay man to help protect yourself.

I only learnt of the real dangers for me as a sexually active gay man through taking some initiative and going to a clinic. I had no clue about hepatitis jabs and emergency HIV treatments and windows of infection. I learned a lot through being able to ask questions of someone I could trust who knows what they’re on about. I also found that going to a clinic completely reversed my expectations which were based on the stereotype of sexual health clinics being sleazy and disgusting. I found it to be a place where I could freely ask all the questions I had which weren’t being met by the teaching at school, (big up Worthing sexual health, woo!).

6. Relationships are a big part of sex education too.

There was so much focus on the physical that the emotional side was almost forgotten. All of the emotional side of things more often than not were put down to hormones. Those pesky hormones were responsible for everything! Nobody attempted to delve deeper into the way we were feeling emotionally and why we were driven to think that the Smiths really did understand us like nobody else did.

7. Consent. A topic that as far as I can remember was not even covered.

The darker side of things including abuse and rape was not touched on, which seems absolutely ridiculous. Teaching consent is essential, especially in an age where pornography is distorting the idea of what is perceived as acceptable and unacceptable in a healthy sexual relationship.

8. Confidence is the most important part of your body image.

In our teenage years we spend so much time obsessed with wanting to look good and fighting Mother Nature who has destined us to be spotty, greasy-haired, squeaky-voiced slobs. Accepting body image and being confident with your own body is probably one of the lessons that comes with age but it certainly would have helped having some reassurances from school forcing our eyes away from the skinny catwalk models and the chiselled muscle men that we were thinking we should look like.

I feel like this may have just turned into a list of failings of our education system. But maybe it isn’t ALL bad and maybe things are changing. If you had a similar experience or if you had a totally different experience of sex ed let me know your thoughts!

Complete Article HERE!

Postnatal Sex

Name: Stacy
Gender: Female
Age: 24
Location: ND
Could you talk a little about postnatal sex? I’m a new mother and, while I love my husband and I know he’s got blue balls from lack of sex, I just don’t feel like it.

hands-man-woman-baby_medium

Hey, congratulations on the arrival of your baby. It’s cause for celebration, right? But you should know that experts pinpoint this event as the one that places the most strain on a relationship. When you think about it, there should be no surprise. The new mother is exhausted. She’s developing mothering skills she may have only read about before. First babies are a challenge – they can be colicky and demanding. If she’s going back to work, then organizing childcare is a big hurdle. With all this going on, what if her partner expects the sort of sex life that led to the pregnancy in the first place? She may feel like there’s just one more person to service, one more person with needs and demands that are keeping her from much-needed sleep.

New mothers can find sex unappealing for reasons both physical and emotional. If you’re breastfeeding, your breasts are sore, heavy and leaky. Your body just doesn’t feel sexy, with its stretch marks, cellulite, dark nipples and dark line down the abdomen, not to mention the weight gain and varicose veins. Then there is lochia, the discharge after the birth, which lasts for 3 to 4 weeks and does not smell very good. If you had an episiotomy, the stitches are very uncomfortable and you may worry about infection. Your hormones may still be in a state of flux, so you feel moody or depressed. And you may not have a good method of birth control, so sex is the last thing on your mind!

Some doctors recommend that new mothers refrain from sex until their first post partum examination, usually about 6 weeks after the birth.mommy, daddy, baby

Couples aren’t warned about all this, you’re totally unprepared. If you can’t talk about it, there may be trouble ahead. Many males firmly believe that once the baby is born, their sex life will go right back to how it was pre-pregnancy. This is unrealistic, and it puts pressure on both partners.

New fathers can help their partner move beyond those feelings of sexual disinterest by being a very involved parent and helping around the house.

Many new mothers are quite happy to perform a hand job and or a blow job until they are feeling sexual again. And many males will be quite happy masturbating until their partner is ready to resume sexual intercourse. (Here’s a fun sex toy that has gotten other couples through the postnatal sexual dilemma.)

Touching, hugging, kissing and snuggling are important for both, but remember, there should be no expectation that it will inevitably end up in sex.

It takes time, patience and understanding to return to a normal, intimate, loving partnership after your first baby is born.

Good luck

PS: For more information on this topic look HERE!