Use quotes to search for exact phrases. Use AND/OR/NOT between keywords or phrases for more precise search results.

Roundups Sexual Health

This Week in Sex: That Eggplant Emoji Is Now a Cutesy Vibrator

Martha Kempner

But just curious: Who wants to put a chile pepper (even a fake one) into their body?

This Week in Sex is a summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.

These Sex Toys Could Pass for Kiddie Toys

Cute is not usually a word we typically associate with our sex toys, but maybe it should be. The makers of emojibators would like us to lighten up a little bit when it comes to masturbation. And they’ve created a series of adorable vibrators to help us do just that.

It all started with the eggplant-shaped vibrator modeled after the purple emoji that has evolved to mean “penis” in text language. It has even more suggestive meanings when paired with, say, a peach or a mouth. The company began in 2016 with this product—which is just under 5 inches long and quite slim—and a desire “to change the shameful taboo around female masturbation using humor and sex positivity. We want to help people laugh more about sex and talk about it more easily with friends and strangers alike!”

Get the facts, direct to your inbox.

Want more Rewire.News? Get the facts, direct to your inbox.

SIGN UP

To this end, the company recently launched a video campaign promoting healthier personal care, hosts a sex-positive blog on its site, and sponsors National Masturbation Month in May. It has also added other charming emojibators to its cast of characters including a banana (because the ones in your kitchen get mushy quickly), a chili pepper, a friendly-looking shark (think Bruce from Finding Nemo rather than the great whites of Jaws), and a pair of baby chickens. 

Though we here at This Week in Sex are admittedly having trouble imagining getting off with those little chickies even in the room (they are just too darn cute), we’re totally on board with anything that shatters masturbation taboos. You do not need a partner to have an orgasmic Valentine’s Day.

Plans with Your Boo? Leave the Phone at Home

You’re sitting next to your significant other and explaining the important details of your day. But all you get in return are distracted grunts of acknowledgment because the person who is supposed to be talking to you is tweeting, texting, or checking their Instagram feed.

To be fair, when our smartphones are rarely out of reach, we’ve all also been the person who’s too focused on their phone to actually engage. A new paper, published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, suggests this common predicament is not just a case of distraction or an annoying habit. It could be an evolutionary mismatch.

Not that you and your partner are a bad fit—it’s more that our technology can make us do things that interfere with real-life interaction. And it’s hard to literally connect—with people who are literally in front of you—when we’re connected with the wide, wide world all the time.  

According to lead author David Sbarra and his colleagues, the human need to engage with each other and share our thoughts and feelings were once a matter of survival. Doing so in small, close-knit kin groups and those who were right next to us promoted trust and cooperation, so that we could find food and shelter together.

The researchers—who hail from the University of Arizona and Michigan’s Wayne State University—argue that smartphones tap into both the need to self-disclose personal information and the desire to respond to the disclosures of others. But we might be tapped into a vast network of acquaintances at the expense of the people who are actually in our physical presence. This is apparently a textbook case of evolutionary mismatch, which is “when modern contexts cue ancestral adaptation in a manner that does not provide for their adaptive benefits.” As Sbarra explained to Medical Xpress: “When you are distracted into or by the device, then your attention is divided, and being responsive to our partners—an essential ingredient for building intimacy—requires attention in the here and now.”

There’s a word for this distraction in relationships—it’s called “technoference,” and it’s pretty common. In one study cited by Sbarra and his colleagues, 70 percent of married women said mobile phones interfered with their relationships.

Apparently, we needed a study to tell us that.

But while we wait for more research on the issue (because doesn’t every study end with a call for more research?), we here at This Week in Sex are going to give some unsolicited and pretty self-explanatory advice: Put down the phone sometimes and pay attention to the one you’re with, especially if you’re hoping for some physical attention from them. And what better day to start such a practice than this very Hallmark holiday?

Pot May Not Affect Sperm After All

If you have cannabis-related Valentine’s Day plans and future plans for children, another new study casts doubt on the idea that marijuana decreases male fertility.

Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health hypothesized that smoking marijuana would decrease semen quality. Studies have hinted at this in the past, but most of these were done on animals or samples of frequent drug users who might have other health issues. To test their theory, the researchers studied semen samples, blood test results, and surveys of hundreds of men who visited a Massachusetts fertility center between 2000 and 2017.

Fifty-five percent of the men in the study said they had used cannabis in their lifetimes, though most of them said their marijuana use was past. Only 11 percent of the men declared themselves to be current users.

The researchers compared sperm counts of cannabis users (both past and present) to the men who said they’d never touched the stuff, and the results were not what conventional wisdom might have predicted. Cannabis users actually had a higher sperm count on average than nonusers. And more nonusers than users had low sperm count.

The study also found that among marijuana smokers, greater use was associated with higher testosterone levels.

Now, before anyone goes out and spends Valentine’s Day high in the name of their future children, the researchers point out that this study has some limitations. First and foremost, people might lie about past or present pot use—it is still illegal in many places, though not Massachusetts—and not always socially acceptable. Second, because the men in the study are seeking fertility services, they might be different from men in the general population.

More importantly, correlation does not equal causation. In a statement, the authors note that these results could show that low levels of cannabis use benefit systems in the body important in sperm production. But it’s plausible that men who already have higher levels of testosterone are more likely to smoke pot. So, you guessed it, we need to wait for more research. 

Load More