Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Boston Globe's Ellen Goodman on the globalization of surrogacy.

I'm not just a little offended by Ellen Goodman's tone in her April 11 Boston Globe essay, "The globalization of babymaking."

It would have been nice if she had actually talked to some couples who turned to surrogacy. I can assure you that no infertile couple travels halfway around the world, and gives up their dream of biological children, "in search of lower-cost ways to fill the family business."

I can assure that by the time a couple gets to this point, they've probably exhausted all other options. No one chooses voluntarily to "outsource" conception to egg donors and sperm donors.

She say she doesn't "make light of infertility." Then she does exactly that.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Joy of Sex Research: "Bonk" author Mary Roach talks about her latest work.

Thursday night, I went to hear Mary Roach, author of Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, speak at Kepler's bookstore. She described to packed house--I felt like I was sitting in coach on a United flight--her many amusing experiences writing a book about the study of sex physiology, as well as the unusual facts she learned. A few notable excerpts:

  • When you write a book like this, everything becomes about sex. (Tell me about it.) For a while, she kept thinking the name of the bookstore was "Kegeler's."
  • She never thought she'd be finding out about thinks like a "phallus-cam." Or the things humans insert into their rectums (known as "collections" if there are more than one).
  • The term "upsuck" refers to the notion that the female orgasm "sucks up" semen--of interest if you're trying to increase your changes of getting pregnant. This notion, however, has not been proven, perhaps due to the difficulty in finding willing research subjects.
  • Her book contains three different recipes for simulated semen. One of the recipes lists its yield as "one ejaculate." (Those of you who are cooks may find this amusing.)
  • She told a hilarious story about a skeet shooter who took part in a study on male multiple orgasm at SUNY. I can't even describe what he called out at the height of passion. Something about the term for shooting two skeet with one shot, an occurance that may be more rare than the male multiple orgasm.
  • There's a woman in Oakland who can think herself to orgasm. In less than a minute.
  • During "foreplay," the male porcupine stands on his hind legs and pees on the female. (I just write it down. I don't make it up.) Skeptical? Well, I just Googled "porcupine foreplay." Here's what I got.
As if those points weren't interesting enough, what were some of the more surprising things she learned?
  • Women have nocturnal erections. (Again, I just report, I don't make up.)
  • The human nose has erectile tissue.
  • How much we don't know about human sexuality. Still researchers looking into the subject are constantly getting turned down for funding, because sex is considered a "lifestyle" issue.

What was the most fun she had while researching the book? Her trip to a factory that makes sex toys. She'll never forget, she said, the image of a guy with a hairnet holding an armload of fake phalluses.

Oh, and then there's the story of when she and her husband became human guinea pigs and had sex in an MRI machine. Dear reader, despite the sacrifices I'm willing to make for my art, even I'm not sure I'd go that far. Mostly because of the danger of the resulting video finding its way onto the Internet--which is what happened to Roach. (Slate.com apparently edited the 1-second clip into a repeating loop to make the event look like it lasted much longer than it did. I'm searching Slate.com now, but not finding it.) She talks a little bit about the experience here:

Maybe this is why Roach's next book will be about space travel. There's a joke in there somewhere, but I've already shot my wad.

See? You start writing about sex, and everything is a double entendre.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Violet Blue on "feminist porn."

Violet Blue has a thought-provoking column on "feminist porn" on SFGate.com today. Read it here.

I'd write more about it but I'm tired and on deadline (translation: in slideware hell) for my day job.

I gotta say, I love the idea that someone is making great porn for women (that isn't all soft-core and lame), because most of the videos out there are pretty ridiculous. To each his or her own, of course, especially when it comes to erotica.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Calling all rum lovers!

Hey, this is a strange request, but here goes. Send me your favorite mojito recipe! I need one for the book I'm writing about seduction, and I'm trying to create a scenario with a Cuban vibe.

I'll give you credit (anonymously, if you want). Thanks...

57-year-old woman gives birth to "surprise" baby.

According to BioNews.org.uk, a 57-year-old woman has become one of the oldest first-time mothers in the UK (via donor eggs). Eight weeks before she gave birth, doctors had told the woman, Susan Tollefsen, that the swelling in her abdomen was ovarian cancer. It's quite a story. Read it here.

I think the key here is "first-time" mother. As much as I wanted a second child, part of me won't miss the lack of sleep and everything else that comes along with having an infant. I'm not, shall we say, a spring chicken anymore.

But then I get another email full of pictures of someone's newborn (these days, it's usually a second child), and...well...a little bit of my heart breaks off when I think that I won't get to experience that again. And that when I was experiencing it the first time, I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Fertility research study looking for volunteers.

Got this email today from the American Fertility Association. If you're interested, click on the links.

We are a group of six dedicated therapists and researchers who have been involved in the field of infertility for more than 20 years. As practitioners, we are committed to counseling, educating and supporting infertile patients.

We are now embarking on a research project - backed by Adelphi University - whose goal is to study the impact that the infertility experience has on your (the patient's) greater life. We want to learn more about how people cope while dealing with infertility.

We believe that the results of our research will bring to bear influence on how health care providers may counsel and support patients and more importantly, how future patients may view their experience.

The bottom line is that we need your help! If you are someone who has experienced infertility for at least one year during the past six years, we hope that you will take the time to respond by clicking on the link www.infertilityresearch.org and be a participant in our research. Once we receive your information (all strictly confidential), a questionnaire will be sent to you with a stamped & addressed envelope for you to return to us. The one-time questionnaire will take approximately 40 minutes to complete and there is no cost and no obligation on your part.

We will be happy to share the results with you when our research is complete. Please seriously consider our request and click www.infertilityresearch.org and follow the instructions.

We want to thank The AFA for the opportunity to recruit participants from their membership and we thank you for your time and participation.


Lyn Paul,PhD,

Anne Malave, PhD,

Nancy Berlow, LCSW,

Lesli Figlerski,PhD,

Susan Gardner, LCSW,

Harriette Rovner-Ferguson, LCSW

I spoke briefly with Lyn this morning. Nice gal. I'm just hoping that my "journey" can help someone else. Makes me feel a little bit better in a week when the baby announcements (all for Baby #2) have come fast and furious.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New book targets cost of baby gear.

Heard an interesting story this morning on NPR: Steve Inskeep interviewed author Pamela Paul about Parenting, Inc. , her book about the baby gear industry. Listen to it here.

The book's already in my Amazon shopping cart, and I'll review it in a future blog post. Because oh, how this topic hits home. When I was pregnant with my son, I became well-nigh paralyzed by the amount of "stuff" I was supposed to buy. Changing tables! Swings! Baby carriers! Strollers costing $800 or more (yes, I'm talking about you, Bugaboo)! Cribs costing over $1,000!

This is why I became a Baby Gear specialist on Lootist.com: to help new parents sort through the marketing and figure out what they really need, as well as to overcome what marketers call FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). Because when you have a newborn and haven't slept for more than a three-hour stretch for the previous three weeks, FUD becomes a way of life.

Speaking of sleep (and I do, often), I completely agreed with the author when she said that in spite what she first thought about sleep consultants (i.e., that it's the most ridiculous idea ever), in the end it was absolutely the best money she spent. (Noelle Cochran, if you're out there, you saved my life and probably, my marriage.) Next to my Lasik eye surgery, it was the best investment I ever made.