Does repeatedly taking Plan B make a woman infertile?
Are there there the same number of calories in semen as there are in a hamburger?
Science and the internet
Does watching porn cause erectile dysfunction?
Are blue waffles real?
Is masturbation bad?
Can you get pregnant the first time you have sex?
Can pop/soda be used as birth control to wash semen out of the vagina after sex?
Is penis size related to ethnic background?
Is it rape if a person says yes to sex, but they are drunk or high?
Does repeatedly taking Plan B make a woman infertile?
MYTH
There is a myth floating around that repeatedly taking Plan B (also known as emergency contraception or the morning after pill) will make a woman infertile

FACT
There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support this claim. From what I have read on line, this myth seems to have been started by British and American news magazines. The World Health Organization has published an easy to read scientific document about emergency contraception. You can access it here.  Plan B or other forms of emergency contraception do not cause infertility in women; are safe for adolescent women to use; are not addictive; are not toxic; do not cause cancer; and do not increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Plan B works by suppressing ovulation.  If ovulation has occurred, it may interfere with the sperm meeting the egg.  It does not interfere with an early established pregnancy.  Plan B is not an abortion pill.  

Plan B is effective up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, but the effectiveness decreases as the hours increase.  It is therefore recommended to be taken AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after the sexual incident.  If ovulation has not occurred, but will occur in the near future, Plan B will interfere with ovulation.  As it suppresses ovulation, it offers contraceptive protection for the sex that has recently occurred, and NOT THE SEX THAT MIGHT HAPPEN BEFORE HER NEXT PERIOD.  So, if a couple use Plan B in a particular month, they MUST keep the penis far from the vagina, or use condoms, until she gets her period (generally it will come around the expected time).  

In Canada, Plan B is available without a prescription from any pharmacy outlet (Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, Superstore).  Parental permission is NOT required and a legal adult does NOT have to accompany you.  It costs around $25.00 for the two pill pack.  This is something to consider. If you are sexually active, but don't have a steady source of income, I recommend that you might want to get a box BEFORE you need it.



  
Are there there the same number of calories in semen as there are in a hamburger?
MYTH
I’m not sure where and when this myth got started, but it seems to have recently resurfaced.  One version of the myth is there are the same number of calories in human ejaculate as would be found in a hamburger.     

FACT 
On average, human ejaculate is approximately 5mls, or a teaspoon (this varies by the age of the man and a few other factors).  I searched a number of scientific research databases including MedLINE and came up empty-handed.  I couldn't find a single study that has actually calculated calories in human semen.  It’s possible of course, the research is there, but I just couldn't find it. In light of this, I browsed a couple of my human sexuality textbooks. Again, no caloric data for human semen.  So, I had to search the web for the answer.  I found a website administered by Columbia University titled Go Ask Alice (here).  This is what Alice said:  “A typical ejaculation fills up about one teaspoon; the actual amount is determined by a man's age (younger men usually make more semen), when he last ejaculated, and how long he's aroused before ejaculating, among other factors. Contrary to what you've heard, semen is not loaded with calories. Each teaspoon of ejaculate has about 5 - 7 calories and some 200 - 500 million sperm. Since sperm make up only about 1 percent of semen, what accounts for the other 99 percent? Well, its other ingredients include: fructose, sugar, water, zinc, ascorbic acid (a.k.a., vitamin C), citric acid, enzymes, protein, phosphate and bicarbonate buffers (bases). Can swallowing semen enrich a protein poor diet? Unless you're gulping gallons of it each day, it's no substitute for real nutritious cuisine!  It may be a good idea to keep in mind safer sex practices when considering whether or not to swallow.” 

So what is the take home message from this site?  If the average cheeseburger (say a Big Mac) has approximately 700 calories, and a single human ejaculation has approximately 5-7 calories, a person would need to ingest around 700mls (just under three cups) of semen to match the calories in one Big Mac cheeseburger.  

MY THOUGHTS
I'm with Alice, probably a better calculation to consider here is: If the guy has an STI, what is the probability it will be transmitted orally? Most of the common STIs do transmit orally (lips, mouth and throat), so using a condom or dam is always the safest route to go. For more information about safer oral sex practices look here.

Science and the internet
In an electronic world where we get so much information on line, how do we sort myth from scientific fact?
This question comes up from time to time when I speak to parents and teaching professionals. As this is my inaugural post, answering this question is a great place to start, so here goes... Scientific research are studies completed by scientists. They usually involve some form of experiment, observational study or a correlation. Once completed, the principal researcher writes up the findings of the study and submits it to a scientific journal for peer review. Scientific journals are periodicals that publish new research results to further the progress of science. Research submitted to scientific journals must undergo the peer review process. The Librarians at the University of Victoria do a great job of explaining what peer review actually is. "Peer-reviewed articles have been evaluated and critiqued by researchers and experts in the same field before the article is published. An author can then revise the article to make corrections and include suggestions that will make the article stronger, such as incorporating previously overlooked ideas and addressing other concerns. If the author cannot or will not take the peer reviewers' advice, the article may be rejected (not published) due to poor quality: nonscientific experiments, faulty logic, omitted facts, bias, incomplete conclusions, etc. Peer review ensures that an article, and therefore the journal and the scholarship of the discipline as a whole - maintains a high standard of quality, accuracy, and academic integrity. When you consult peer-reviewed sources, you are tapping into a wealth of established, verified knowledge" (link here).

Websites, magazines, newspapers, TV shows, blogs and other social media sites are considered a lower standard of scientific evidence because they have not been through the peer review process. Self-help books and books about social issues often also fall into this category. That is, they have not been scrutinized by qualified experts prior to publication and therefore while they might be interesting, their content has not been substantiated for accuracy or quality. Moreover, these sources can be based on opinion, secondary reporting or biased statements.

Undergraduate university students in the Arts and Sciences are trained early in their first year about standards of evidence and how essential it is to read and review the actual scientific research findings. All Universities provide their faculty and students with access to vast databases such as Medline and PsychINFO that maintain lists of the research published in all the scientific areas of inquiry. Sadly, most of us do not have access to these catalogue databases and often have to rely on TV shows, blogs, newspapers and other non-scientific sources to get our scientific information.
Does watching porn cause erectile dysfunction?

MYTH
There are a few internet sites that suggest watching porn can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) in men.  It seems this myth has emerged from a piece printed in an American online/print magazine called PSYCHOLOGY TODAY.  For the record, this magazine is not a scientific journal, and does not undergo peer review before it is printed.  In scientific research, peer review is the process where other scientists scrutinize research findings for accuracy before the work is published in scientific journals.  Scientific journals are documents that other scientists then read to find out about new research findings in their area.  In science there is a standard of evidence.  It is evidence that has been obtained from proper scientific studies. Personal stories, testimonials and opinion, while often interesting, are not scientific evidence. Use your critical thinking skills - counting all the people who access the internet, wouldn't it be really easy to find a few people who believe watching porn caused their ED?  This is what you are reading when you encounter websites that suggest porn use causes ED.  Always look for the scientific research.

FACTS SO FAR
So, is there such a thing as porn-induced erectile dysfunction?
After a thorough search of scientific journals (research findings are organized orderly on scholarly databases), I could find no scientific evidence for porn-induced erectile dysfunction.  I also searched a number of professional websites published by physicians and researchers expert in men's genital health (such as the Canadian Urological Association) and found no statement that said pornography is one of the causes of erectile dysfunction in men (if anyone would know about this, these guys would). I will continue to search and let you know if this changes, but at the moment, there is no scientific evidence for this statement.  
The more relevant issue here is that if you are under the age of 18, you are breaking the law.  It is illegal for minors to view pornography.

MY THOUGHTS
Based on current scientific findings, and to the best of my knowledge, you will not end up with a limp penis from watching porn on the internet. Your curiosity is normal, but your activities are illegal if you are under the age of 18.  Get off the porn sites and spend your time and energy looking for more realistic relationships.  Real sex is nothing like porn sex, and real men and women are nothing like porn stars. If you want to learn more about sex and sexuality, browse the sites listed here.

Are blue waffles real?
Is Blue Waffle a real sexually transmitted infection?
MYTH
I was hoping this myth would live a short life and die quickly.  It seems that is not the case.  The "Blue Waffle" myth got started in 2010 when a picture appeared on the Internet of a vulva showing clear signs of some form of infection.  The image looks photoshopped to me.  The caption suggests "Blue Waffle disease" passes from female to male, and is caused by lots of sex and poor vaginal hygiene.  

FACT
There is no sexually transmitted infection (STI) called "Blue Waffle disease".  Just to confirm this, I checked the medical research database called MEDLINE. This is a vast electronic database that contains over 19 million biomedical research findings.  There were no results for "Blue Waffle disease".  You will never get "Blue Waffle disease" neither will your vagina ever look like the image on the Internet. That being said, The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada have estimated that 75% of adults in Canada who have had sex, will get at least one STI at some point in their life (here).  While you will not get "Blue Waffle disease" if you are sexually active you are at risk for other STIs (like HPV), many of which present without any symptoms.  For this reason, sexually active individuals should be tested for STIs.  Your doctor, a walk in or youth clinic can do the tests for you.  In British Columbia, all you need is your BC Medical card.

MY THOUGHTS
The Internet is not a repository of truthful stories.  You cannot trust what you read on the Internet unless you can verify the information is from a reputable source.  If you would like information about all the different types of sexually transmitted infections, read more here  The website www.inspot.org will show you the nearest clinic to you simply by putting in your postal code (here).
Is masturbation bad?
The best answer to this question is provided by Planned Parenthood (U.S.) Twenty masturbation questions answered in 60 seconds.  Check it out.
Can you get pregnant the first time you have sex?
MYTH
You can't get pregnant the first time you have (straight) sex.

FACT
If a woman is ovulating, it doesn't matter if it's the first time or the six hundredth time, she can still get pregnant. Pregnancy happens when the sperm fertilizes the ova. Sex around ovulation can likely result in pregnancy.  Neither the sperm nor the egg care how many times she's had sex previously.  For this reason, its critical to use reliable birth control when heterosexual sex is anticipated, whatever time it is.
Can pop/soda be used as birth control to wash semen out of the vagina after sex?
MYTH
This myth seems to go back about 50 years. One version suggests rinsing out the vagina after sex is effective at washing away the semen (it isn't) and therefore preventing pregnancy.  Mountain Dew (yes the pop/carbonated beverage) has been a mythical favourite.  I'm not making this up (here).
Here are 12 more birth control myths.

FACT
Research shows sperm can be found in the uterus within minutes after semen is deposited in the vagina (here).  So, in the time it takes to wash out the vagina, sperm are already well past the opening of the cervix and into the uterus; far beyond the reach of any vaginal rinse.  A far more effective (but not perfect) form of emergency contraception is Plan B or a generic equivalent.  In B.C. a prescription is not necessary and it is available for purchase at pharmacy counters.  It costs around $20 to $25.

MY THOUGHTS
Great sex involves planning and preparation to prevent unplanned pregnancies and potential STI transmission.  When people are getting turned on it can be difficult - but not impossible - to put the sexual brakes on.  If a person goes into a possible sexual encounter thinking "we'll see what happens" he/she is at an increased risk of making a sexual decision they might regret later on.  When it comes to sex, its always best to use effective birth control in the first place, rather than trying to figure out what to do after the unprotected sex has occurred.  

Emergency contraception is effective under certain conditions, it is not perfect, and the use of mythical post-sex treatments such a Mountain Dew certainly does not work.  If you would like a review of the birth control methods available in Canada, click here.

Is penis size related to ethnic background?
MYTH
This myth suggests penis size is somehow related to differences in ethnic backgrounds.  More specifically, African-American men have larger penises compared to men from other ethnic backgrounds.

FACT
I spent some time reading a number of different research papers on the topic of penis size (the things I do for my work...).  One study did find a relationship between ethnic background and penis size, but it seems the differences were more related to body size than ethnic background.  In this study, larger men had slightly larger penises. This makes sense.  A larger person will have larger organs, muscles, extremities, bones etc.  Another study found no difference between ethnic background and penis size.  And yet another study found gay men had slightly larger penises than straight men (these studies are summarized here).  I then reviewed my human sexuality textbooks and found there is considerable penis size variation in all ethnic groups.  That is, in ALL ethnic groups there are men with smaller penises, men with medium penises and men with larger penises.

One of the reasons why men can become concerned with the size of their penis is because they might erroneously think a large penis is necessary to sexually satisfy a partner.   Research does not support this concern.   One study involving heterosexual couples found that most women (85%) are perfectly satisfied with the size of their partner's penis (here), and consider other factors such as grooming and personality to be more important (here).

MY THOUGHTS
Genital size does not contribute to a great sex life, and if a partner thinks it does, they lack knowledge, technique and an understanding of the importance of communication during sex.  So then, what is the most important organ in the body when it comes to sex?  It's the brain, and this organ contributes (by far) the lion's share to our sexual satisfaction and sexual arousal.

Is it rape if a person says yes to sex, but they are drunk or high?
Firstly, the word RAPE is an American legal term.  In Canada the legal term is SEXUAL ASSAULT, and the answer is yes.  The law in Canada is quite clear. A person cannot consent to having sex with someone if they’re mentally impaired by drugs or alcohol.  In addition, it is unethical to try to have sex with someone who is not clear headed.  Check out this cool YouTube clip that addresses all the aspects of sexual consent by comparing it to making someone tea.