You’ve been doing it since you were 17, will do it with four to six people in your lifetime, and, even if you’re married, will still do it at least once a week. But how much do you really know about sex?
The answer to that question may very well be “not a lot,” and perhaps that’s because there are plenty of weird sex facts that you just don’t want to know. Here are a handful that may keep you out of the bedroom for a while — or maybe not:
Transient global amnesia is a sudden, temporary loss of memory that’s not attributable to any common neurological condition. So what can cause it? Sex.
Along with a very short list of other causes that also includes sudden immersion in hot or cold water, sex can literally wipe your memory. Thankfully, the condition is rare, temporary, and not likely to recur.
But why does this happen? In a 2012 study published in the journal Stroke, researchers contend that a particular kind of tensing and straining mostly in the abdomen and common during sex can put extreme pressure on your veins and allow deoxygenated blood to flow toward the brain, causing it to essentially short out.
The list of bizarre fetishes — known in the medical community as paraphilias — is truly staggering:
There’s autoplushophilia (arousal at oneself dressed as a giant, cartoon-like stuffed animal), autonepiophilia (arousal at oneself in the form of an infant), climacophilia (arousal at falling down stairs), lithophilia (arousal at stone and gravel), and that’s just the beginning
This figure comes courtesy of a 2014 study published in Microbiome. The researchers discovered that one ten-second kiss can transfer approximately 80 million bacteria of over 700 different varieties.
Of course, our entire bodies are home to an ecosystem of more than 100 trillion microorganisms. But fear not, neither the mouth nor body bacteria are, by and large, harmful.
While the human penis contains no bones, sudden and forceful bending of an erect penis during intercourse or masturbation can cause the corpus cavernosum (cylinders of tissue that make up the bulk of the penis) to fracture.
In the chilling words of the Mayo Clinic, “A penis fracture is a painful injury. Signs might include a cracking sound, immediate loss of the erection, or the development of dark bruising of the penis due to blood escaping the cylinder. Sometimes the tube that drains urine from the body (urethra) is damaged as well, and blood might be visible at the urinary opening of the penis.”
In a practice known as taqaandan (“to click” in Kurdish), men will hold the lower shaft of their erect penis with one hand then use the other to quickly snap the upper shaft.
When done correctly, taqaandan is said to be painless, a habit akin to knuckle-cracking.
Why do these men do it? According to Dr. Javaad Zargooshi, a urology professor at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences in Iran who’s published work on the subject, taqaandan causes a loss of erection and a “satisfying popping noise.” So, perhaps the practice is used to get rid of unwanted erections.
A 2005 study published in Biological Psychology gathered 18 heterosexual women and 18 heterosexual men and showed them several pornographic films featuring humans and one featuring chimpanzees. Men showed neither objective nor subjective sexual arousal when viewing the chimpanzee porn, but women did.
Moreover, the researchers found that while the men showed genital arousal only to female pornographic stimuli, the study’s female subjects showed genital arousal to both male and female pornographic stimuli. in the researchers’ words, “These results suggest that stimulus features necessary to evoke genital arousal are much less specific in women than in men.”
A paper published in PLOS ONE in 2013 reported that bats (including the short-nosed fruit bat and the as-terrifyingly-enormous-as-it-sounds Indian flying fox [above]) engage in both fellatio and cunnilingus.
And other than some unproven theories about female bats using fellatio as a way to disinfect the male’s penis or males using cunnilingus as a way to lick out competing sperm, it seems that bats practice oral sex for the very same reasons we do.
The next time you’re about to disparage current contraceptive methods, just remember that the ancient Egyptians sometimes used the crocodile feces as well as sour milk to prevent pregnancy. Both were applied intravaginally and during the act.
Modern theories suggest that the milk increased the vagina’s acidity enough to degrade any sperm that might enter while the crocodile dung was alkaline enough to act as a spermicide
A 2010 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that between 20 and 30 percent of American men and women over the age of 80 remain sexually active.
The researchers also found that physical health was the most common predictor of sexual satisfaction for men in this age group.
According to CDC data reported in the New York Times, between 2007 and 2011, the rate of chlamydia infections for Americans 65 and older rose by 31 percent, while syphilis rose by 52 percent. Additionally, CBS reported on a British study that found that the number of new HIV infections among U.S. and U.K. citizens over the age of 50 doubled in the 2000s.
These figures actually make perfect sense. One of America’s largest and comparatively less sexually educated generations (the Baby Boomers) is now in the senior citizen bracket and we now have the medicine to keep them healthy longer, the drugs to keep them sexually active longer, and the nursing homes to house them.
Despite what we may think — and may like to think — about declining sex drives among the elderly, a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health found that for men between the ages of 60 and 84, the older they were, the more frequently they paid for sex.
What’s troubling is that, likewise, as men who pay for sex get older, they’re less likely to use protection. Of the men studied, 60 percent reported not always using protection with prostitutes.
One one more sex fact from the land of senior citizens.
A comprehensive 2007 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that 31 percent of Americans ages 75-85 engage in oral sex. And for Americans ages 57-75, that number was 58 percent.
Some estimates, including one cited in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, claim that 0.6 percent of all sudden deaths occur during sexual intercourse. If at first that number doesn’t sound particularly high, think of all the ways there are to die, then realize that this statistic means that one in every 200 sudden deaths comes during sex.
The most common root causes of death during sex include any number of cardiac episodes as well as brain hemorrhages.
Pope John XII (above left) reportedly died in 964 of a stroke during sex (although, due to his position, he was supposed to be celibate). A perhaps less believable story claims that Pope Paul II died in 1471 as a page boy was sodomizing him.
Actor David Carradine (above center), singer Michael Hutchence of INXS, and British TV host Kristian Digby all very likely died of autoerotic asphyxiation.
Former vice president Nelson Rockefeller suffered a fatal heart attack in 1979 brought on by an orgasm had with his assistant (at the time, New York Magazine wrote, “Nelson thought he was coming, but he was going.”).
A 2012 analysis published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that sudden coital death was significantly more common when a man was with a mistress as opposed to a wife or committed partner.
The researchers aren’t exactly sure why, although they suggest that the stress of keeping the affair a secret as well as the stresses of keeping up with a (presumably) younger woman can lead to dangerously high blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in a deadly cardiac episode.
Although they’ve kept it relatively quiet, doctors and researchers have known about this unsettling phenomenon for decades. As much as it may shock us, ultrasounds have shown it time and again to be true.
This finding comes from a sobering study published in the American Journal of Medicine. The researchers found that human papillomavirus (HPV), more than any other STD, is extremely common, particularly among Americans ages 18-28. In fact, a recent study shows that two-thirds of otherwise healthy Americans of all ages have some form of HPV.
Whether HPV or any other infection, the CDC estimates that America alone accounts for 20 million new STD cases each year, leading to $16 billion annually in healthcare costs.
As of now, according to the CDC, about one in six Americans — approximately 50 million people — has genital herpes (not to be confused with HPV, which can cause genital warts).
And according to projections from the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, by 2025, about 40 percent of men and 50 percent of women in America could have genital herpes.
The technical term is postcoital dysphoria and it involves a range of symptoms including melancholy, tearfulness, anxiety, irritability, and restlessness. And according to a 2011 study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, one in three women experience it, with one in ten experiencing it regularly.
In the words of lead author and Queensland University of Technology professor Robert Schweitzer, “Under normal circumstances the resolution phase of sexual activity, or period just after sex, elicits sensations of well-being, along with psychological and physical relaxation.” But for 32.9 percent of women, it’s just the opposite and while researchers believe it’s a biological, not psychological, mechanism at work, they aren’t really sure why this phenomenon exists.
According to a widely cited finding from the Kinsey Institute (the pioneers of modern sex research), a man’s ejaculate travels at a surprising, perhaps even alarming, speed.
For reference, 28 mph is 20 percent faster than the record-setting sprint made by Usain Bolt (above) at the 2008 Olympics and three-fourths as fast as Secretariat’s record-setting pace at the 1973 Belmont Stakes
While you don’t actually have to worry about this one anymore, it still may be disconcerting to think that the penises of our ancestors were lined with a hard spine.
A 2011 study published in Nature compared the human genome with that of some modern primates to find the specific genetic deletions that makes humans who we are. While the study found 510 deletions responsible for immensely important things like increased brain size, perhaps its the deletion of that spined penis for which we’re all most thankful.