A Sex Tape Like No Other

Today I saw a sex tape like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It was a sex tape that was incredibly explicit yet it didn’t invade anyone’s privacy, identify or embarrass anyone. There wasn’t a celebrity to be seen. Anywhere. At least I don’t think there was. Of course it included your customary bit of nudity. There has to be. It’s a sex tape after-all. But not in the way you would ever expect. Let me explain.

It was a sex tape made by a bunch of medical scientists. They created it using the footage from literally hundreds of MRI scans. For those who don’t know, MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It produces a 3D map of the human body but it can pretty much do anything. MRI scans are a great tool for doctors because they produce incredibly detailed images through magnetic fields that map the position of water molecules which exist in varying densities in different types of human tissue. Here’s the really technical explanation for how MRI scans work. An MRI scanner uses a strong magnetic field and the pulses of radio waves to manipulate hydrogen protons in the human body. When the radio frequency source is switched off, the hydrogen protons reveal their position in the body by re-emitting energy, which is then captured and translated into images. Pretty simple really. I am joking.

MRI scanning is completely different from CAT scans or X-rays. They are generally more expensive and take more time but they provide much greater detailed information about the soft tissue of the human body. The MRI scanner is a huge machine with what looks like a tunnel in the middle. The patient lies flat and they are then inserted inside the scanner. It doesn’t use harmful radiation. And that can deliver two types of benefits. Firstly, it isn’t dangerous in any way to the person being scanned which means they can spend much longer in the machine and secondly, scientists can take a lot more pictures, which is what a group of medical experts set out to do.

Medical scientists wanted an answer to this question: What would the normal stuff, we humans do with our bodies every day of our lives, actually look like if you could see inside someone? They asked for, and got, a group of volunteers prepared to do whatever was asked of them. What followed was something incredible. There was a 3D image of a knee being bent, showing the muscles and tendons stretching. And a beating heart, showing the left and right ventricles, pumping blood throughout the body. There were pictures of someone drinking pineapple juice. We see the juice in the mouth and when it is swallowed the image follows its passage down the oesphagus into the stomach. There is a 3D image of how the tongue behaves when someone is playing the trumpet and two people, one speaking Chinese and the other German. We see how the vocal chords open and close. Believe or not there were moving pictures of someone defacating. We see the faeces in the rectum being expelled from the body. It is extraordinary, shocking and fascinating at the same time. It was to me. Then the video gets into the X-rated stuff.

The 3 D pictures begin with a man and a woman kissing passionately, both of them in an obvious state of sexual arousal. We see the two hearts literally beating faster. It progresses to tongue kissing. Nothing is left to the imagination. Then the video cuts to a 3D image of lovemaking. The image is the antithesis of pornography. It is completely anonymous and stripped back to the sheer physicality of two human beings mating. We know it is a man and a woman but that is all we know. It is both fascinating and beautiful. Finally we see life being born. We see Twins in the uterus before birth and then the actual birth itself.

It was a once in a lifetime experience for researchers and the people who participated. It wasn’t ever painful nor was it dangerous yet it revealed never seen before images. The only unpleasant side effect might have been the constantly loud buzzing noise of the MRI machine. It’s the sort of video that anyone would find fascinating.. If nothing else, it provides a greater appreciation of who we are and what we are made of and how it all works. It tells me, the human body is a perfect machine, but its perfection, lies in its myriad of imperfections.

Getting Your Back Into It

Occasionally I like to reflect on the ingenious ways we are finding to make our lives better. But what I am going to talk about has to do with the S-E-X word. If that offends then I suggest you stop reading and find something else equally productive to do.

There is nothing more depressing or debilitating than chronic back pain. It can make life miserable. Make that intolerable if it prevents you from having a loving relationship with your partner. The good news is medical experts have come up with the best way for men with bad backs to have sex. I am not saying I am one of them but if you do happen to fall into this category then this is a serious issue that needs a serious solution

In order to come up with a solution, scientists studied how a man’s spine moves during you know what to find the most comfortable position for men with back problems. And what is most surprising is that ‘spooning’ is not always the best position to adopt.

A group of researchers at a University in Ontario Canada gathered information from infrared and electromagnetic motion capture systems based on a study of ten couples and how they moved when attempting five common sex positions. From that study they created a set of guidelines recommending different positions and, to put it crudely, thrusting techniques based on what triggered a man’s back pain during sex.

The findings were published in a suitably named journal called Spine. They included a recommendation for men, who they described as flexion intolerant. By that I mean men whose back pain was exacerbated by touching their toes or sitting for extended periods of time. Forget spooning. You are better off having doggy style sex. I am not offering further and better particulars here. I think you pretty much get the drift. These men should also try what the authors described as a hip hinging motion, rather than thrusting with their spine. By that, I guess they mean driving from the hips rather than the lower back.

According to the lead researcher, established medical opinion was that spooning was the best position for men with chronic back problems because it was thought to be the one solution that fitted all problems. But as these researchers discovered it’s no longer the case. Sex positions that might be suitable for one type of back problem are ineffective if you are experiencing pain from another kind of back problem.

The most important outcome from all of this is that doctors now have a solid basis to guide clinicians when making recommendations to their patients who are suffering from debilitating back pain but still want a sex life and to be able to enjoy intimacy with their partner. It has the potential to improve quality of life. More importantly it will improve the quality of a love life for many couples.

Doctors will have some answers to the question frequently asked by couples: how can we manage back pain during sex? And because there has been no satisfactory answer until now couples were forced to remain celibate not by choice but by circumstance. One night of passionate love-making can lead to months of painful agony.

For clinicians these recommendations now have hard science, if you’ll pardon the pun, to back them up. So many puns so little time.

Doctors have been focusing on men with bad backs. But that is not to say they have forgotten about women who suffer from chronic back pain that can be equally debilitating and catastrophic in its effect on sex lives.

Researchers plan to publish details about what is going on with the female spine during the coming months. Boom boom.

 

 

Bring Us Some Men

There’s a remote village in southeast Brazil about 500 km from Rio De Janeiro called Noiva do Cordeiro. It sits in a valley called Belo Vale, which literally translates as beautiful Valley and it’s a place that lives up to its name. The village has groves with row upon row of thick skinned and sweet tangerines, banana plants and trees covered with bright yellow flowers.

But if you go to Noiva do Codeiro the landscape is not the only view to catch your eye. There are also its inhabitants. To be more specific, I’m talking about the village women. But that is also Noiva do Codeiro’s curse as much as it is a blessing.

Apparently this area is famous in Brazil for producing more women than men. But right now too many of them are single and looking for love and there just aren’t enough men around to go round if you get my meaning. And the women of Noiva do Codeiro are determined to do something about it. They’ve launched a nationwide and an international appeal for eligible men to come to their village.

As one of the young village women explained: The only men that single girls meet in the village are either married or a relative. Everyone is a cousin. She says: we all dream of falling in love and getting married. But that is not to say they need a man. They don’t. The village women do very well and are quite happy the way they are. They manage the village finances, they work the fields, they run the show in the absence of men. In fact what makes the place so special is the sense of community that exists here. People work together, and because they work so hard it makes them want to look out for one another. The village has a saying: Life is good because we are always with friends.

Now at this point you might be wondering why there is such a lopsided gender balance. It has to do with Noiva do Codeiro’s history. The village was first settled in the late 19th century. Its founder was a woman called Maria Senhorinha de Lima who arrived after she was accused of adultery and exiled from her church and home in 1891. That stigma has never left the place. The villagers say it has meant that Novia do Codeiro has been isolated because of prejudice and they have also been fighting a campaign to ensure that the authorities don’t continue to ignore the community.

Clearly, there are men who live in Noiva do Codeiro but they spend the week away working either as miners or in the nearest big city. The village women acknowledge they are an unusual group in rural Brazil. But the times they are a changing in Brazil. The country has a female President. A woman heads up the country’s oil company and women make up more than a quarter of the senior management of Brazil’s leading companies.

This latest publicity has helped to spread Noiva do Codeiro’s notoriety far and wide. The place has a history of male visitors falling for the inhabitants of the village. And that is what the women of Noiva do Codeiro are hoping for. It is now on the tourist trail for some French travellers. If only the village women could speak French.

 

Older But Not Wiser

What I am about to tell you will either delight or disgust. Depending on your point of view and your age group. It’s about older people having sex.

Surprise, Surprise they are doing it. Not only are they doing it. They are doing it quite regularly and it seems without protection. And that, is causing a problem.

The number of sexually transmitted diseases among the over 60s is on the rise if you’ll pardon the pun. And that rise is being blamed on a lack of sex education and communication.

You’d think with age comes wisdom and maturity. But not when it comes to the comings and goings in the bedroom. Older men and women are throwing caution to the wind completely oblivious to the dangers of unprotected sex.

Now you might think that this generation should know better. But I guess you never really stop learning. Certainly there are awareness campaigns out there but they are almost always directed at the young. The media doesn’t help either by continually perpetuating the stereotype of old people as chaste, impotent, perverted and objects of ridicule. And because this generation tends to be forgotten in public health messages, sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, herpes, genital warts and gonorrhoea are increasing. Figures released by Public Health England in 2013, show that cases involving these sexually transmitted diseases rose by more than 8 percent on the previous year. That was a total of one thousand one hundred and twenty-five cases. The number of HIV cases in the UK is also growing.

I guess you can blame it on the baby boomers. In the 1960s and 70s they were sexually active at a time when the contraceptive pill was just becoming big news. At that time the focus was on preventing an unwanted pregnancy and not on sexually transmitted diseases. And as they got older and remained sexually active, that mindset continued. One UK sexual health expert has laid the blame on higher divorce rates and the rapid rise of internet dating. Older people are feeling more confident about embarking on new relationships and the message about playing safe has struggled to keep up. Older people might be embarrassed about not knowing how to properly use a condom. And if you haven’t used one in more than 30 years who are you going to ask to show you how?

Sex health experts say what must happen is that older people understand it’s OK to ask these questions. That it’s OK to ask how to use protection. It’s OK to want to be educated and informed in the same way that we do when it comes to stroke, cancer prevention and diabetes. It’s very OK to keep yourself healthy. One suggestion has been for sexual health checkups for the over 60s by the local GP in much the same way as they do for cancer.

Education would appear to be the key to success. Maybe what needs to happen is for those conversations to start happening in community centers and, God forbid, aged care facilities. They could even consider distributing condoms and Viagra as well as instructions on how to use them, as part of those conversations.

The reality is people are living longer. And that might force all of us to reconsider the notion of what constitutes old age. But unless we break the silence on the not so secret sex lives of the over 60’s, older people will continue to think they are fancy-free and bulletproof.

Tangled Web

Sometimes you come across an extraordinary story that sheds light on who we are and aren’t as human beings.

It concerns a Tasmanian woman called Clodagh Jones who was married to marine scientist Robert Jones for 52 years.

For the last ten of them she was wife as well as carer as he spiralled into dementia which eventually took his life in 2011. Here’s where the story starts to get interesting.

Robert Jones was a hoarder who apparently ” kept everything that passed across his desk or took his eccentric eye.”

Clodagh Jones was a professional indexer who had won an award for her meticulous guide through the journals of a well known Tasmanian explorer.

You can probably see where this is going.

After he died she began emptying boxes of her husband’s stuff. She’d turned up patents for fishing gear, photographs of famous philosophers, even top secret papers for work he did for the UK Defence Department during the Cold War. But through her diligent searching, meticulous Clodagh found a box of papers, she was probably never meant to find, that would literally change her life forever.

Hidden among his archives were letters he had written to lovers, photographs and receipts for jewellery that were presents to his many mistresses.

Clodagh who had borne him three children and nursed him devotedly for ten years through a cruel and insidious disease was understandably shocked by this revelation.

But after she had recovered from her shock what Clodagh did next might surprise you.

Of the many lovers her husband had throughout his life she discovered one he had professed particular devotion to. A much younger woman.

So Clodagh wrote her a letter. Not one full of vitriol or vindictive anger. Quite the contrary. It was a warm letter admitting that she had only just discovered the affair and while it had been devastating news she was also intrigued.

Clodagh ended the letter by asking the woman to write back to her:  “You may be able to tell me some things about my husband of which I know nothing. We can be together for nearly 50 years yet know little about our partners.”

To her surprise the woman replied almost immediately, apologising for all of the hurt she had caused. In an even more surprising twist he two women who shared the one man have now became firm friends.

There is a lesson to be learned from all of this. if you’re a hoarder don’t marry a record keeper. It’s always going to end badly.