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Sex and science stuff – 06/05/09

May 6th, 2009

Dr Petra

Despite our current media swine flu preoccupation there’s been a fair few sex stories out over the past few days. Here are some that caught my attention.

The papers got very excited about new research that suggests teens who watch racy television shows after the 9pm watershed are more likely to engage in underage sex. Catchy as these studies are, my concern with them is they’re always a bit simplistic and point the finger at kids viewing behaviours rather than the wider issue of what’s going on in young people’s lives.

After all, it could be as easily argued that it’s the lack of supervision and parental attention that causes young people to have sex at a younger age – their watching of late night TV is simply symptomatic of a wider problem relating to the quality of care kids are getting. Studies like this also fail to account for cross cultural differences, as plenty of teens in countries with little or no access to television also have sex very young – so there must be other factors at play than simply watching raunchy television shows.

Male contraception has also been in the headlines with a promised new contraception injection for men. As with coverage of the ‘male pill’, press treatment of this story has implied the male contraceptive injection is imminent. It isn’t, it’s still at trial phase and trials for male contraceptives are not always plain sailing with a fair amount of drop outs during the research. Cory Silverberg has an interesting take on this story that picks up on this point.

Worryingly a lot of press coverage I saw suggested this would herald the end of condoms, which is just plain daft. Whether we end up with a male pill or injection (or both) this is only going to prevent pregnancy so condoms will be essential to offer protection against STIs. Why this basic fact can’t be grasped by some journalists is beyond me.

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In Kenya a sex strike is in full effect. Women are being encouraged to withhold sex to draw attention to political infighting that is affecting unity in the country. What the impact will be is yet to be seen, but the sex strike appears to be growing in popularity, the BBC reports.

Perhaps the ladies of Kenya could take a tip from Asexual Fungus Eating Ants who, scientists have discovered, apparently have produced a male-less species.

Marie McCullough of The Philadelphia Enquirer has an excellent summary and discussion on the history and development of female sexual dysfunction drugs over the past decade. Well worth a read if you want to know more about the medicalisation of female sexuality. On the same topic you might be also be interested in this review of Liz Canner’s documentary Orgasm Inc, which has just been released. Better still, you can watch this teaser for the documentary…

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