This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.
No, a Spanish Town Did Not Host a Clitoris Festival
As Pontes, a small town in Northwestern Spain, hosts an annual festival celebrating rapina, a green leafy vegetable similar to spinach. A glitch in Google Translate, however, led some web visitors to believe the festival had a very different theme.
The problematic word turned out to be “grelo,” which in Galician Spanish refers to this locally grown vegetable. Google Translate did not recognize it, however. Instead, it interpreted it as the Portuguese word grelo, which means clitoris. So when a portion of the website was translated from Galician Spanish to Castilian Spanish, the description of the festival read, “Since 1981, the festival has made the clitoris one of the star products of the local gastronomy.”
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Google Translate is not done by humans. It’s done by computers that look for patterns in millions of documents to make the best translation. Since Portuguese is a much more common language than Galician, the mistake is easy to understand.
Nonetheless, the people of As Pontes were not amused. Town Hall spokesperson Monserrat Garcia told the Local: “It’s a very serious error on the part of Google and we are thinking about making an official complaint for Google to properly recognize the Galician language so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”
“Global Warming” May Lead to Cooldowns in the Bedroom
The hole in the ozone layer, the melting of the polar ice caps, and the increasing frequency of super storms are all related to climate change, sometimes known as “global warming.” According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, we may soon be adding less sex to the list of things affected by the planet’s rising temperature.
Though the concept may seem like a stretch, the math is actually pretty simple. Researchers looked at 80 years of fertility data next to 80 years of temperature data. The trends were clear—when it’s more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside on any given day, fewer babies will be born ten months later, suggesting that less was going on inside the bedroom.
A “hot day” like this, according to the researchers, leads to a corresponding 0.4 percent drop in birth rates or 1,165 fewer babies born in the United States. Couples only make up 32 percent of that when the temperature cools down. This means that a long-term warm up could actually cause a decrease in the already shrinking birth rate in this country.
The paper, titled Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks, Climate Change, and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates, uses severe scenarios predicted by climate scientists, in which there are 64 additional days above 80 degrees in the United States between 2070 and 2099. If this happens, the researchers anticipate a 2.6 decline in the birth rate, or 107,000 fewer babies born in the country. This, as Bloomberg Businessweek notes, could be disastrous for the economy.
From a political standpoint, this is yet another reason to work on policies that might stem or even reverse climate change. And from a personal one, it might be a good idea to invest in central air conditioning. According to the researchers, an increased use of air conditioning inside may have compensated for some fertility losses that rising heat would have caused since the 1970s.
New Research Suggests Veterans May Be Likely to Experience Sexual Health Issues
New research emerged this week suggesting that many of those returning to the United States from Iraq and Afghanistan may be suffering from sexual health issues. About 18 percent of U.S. veterans at one post-deployment clinic screened positive for sexual dysfunction, but experts think it might be higher given the reluctance many people have to talk about sex.
The study is based on responses given by nearly 250 veterans who received routine physical and mental health assessment at a post-deployment clinic run by Veteran’s Affairs in Houston. Veterans were asked to rate their level of function or impairment in five areas related to sexuality: libido, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction. Males were also asked about erections and females about vaginal lubrication.
The average age of respondents was 31, most were male, and more than half said they did not have a primary romantic partner. The results, published in the journal Sexual Medicine, found that one in four veterans reported serious impairment in at least one area of sexual functioning.
The researchers noted that there may be a variety of reasons for this, including prescription medication use, the stress of deployment, and the difficulty of returning home. Female veterans and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder were more likely to report sexual dysfunction.