Art by Ryan Huertas (www.ryanhuertas.com)
Welcome to Hyphen’s The H-spot column, where Hyphen drops mad knowledge on readers’ questions about the nasty and other prurient delights. Our experts consist of sex goddess Nadia Cho, intrepid medical doctors Monica Hahn and Dharushana Muthulingam, and diva extraordinaire Barbie. Each week, we’ll feature questions that cover health, LGBTQ, and various other burning topics that our prudish parents would disown us from asking.
Feel free to send over more sex questions to Abigail Licad, our fledgling editor-assassin of all things repressed and taboo, at abigail.licad[at]hyphenmagazine.com.
Ready to straighten out the kinks in our thoughts on sex and sexuality? Let’s do it!
I want to be phenomenal and
unforgettable in bed. Positions and technicalities aside (I have this Kama
Sutra thing down!), how do I work on being more sensual? Any tips on
what kinds of thoughts I should think, words I should say to my partner, or
other things I can do to make sex with my partner more mind-blowing?
--Ultimate Sexpot Contender
Dear Ultimate Sexpot,
Honestly, I cannot tell you how to have sex and how to be more
sensual with your partner because in my experience, what I find exciting is
definitely not the case for everyone I talk to. All I can say is take pleasure
in turning on your partner and in having your partner be turned on by you. When
you have sex, you should do things that are pleasurable to you and not only
think about what is pleasurable for your partner. If you want to have
mind-blowing sex, find out and do the things that feel good to you. The time
that you are most sensual is when you’re actually enjoying yourself sexually,
and that will no doubt turn your partner on a lot, too. Fearlessly tell your
partner what you want them to do and what you like. And if you really want to
step things up, you can always go down the kinky road of power plays and whips
and chains. But again, I have no specific instructions to give. Appreciate and
enjoy all the ways that you are sexual and share this sensual side of yourself
with your partner, as this is the kind of intimacy that surely makes sex
mind-blowing between caring partners.
Nadia Cho is an undergrad at UC
Berkeley majoring in psychology, with strong interests in sociology, Asian
American Studies and gender and women’s studies. She was a Sex on Tuesday
columnist at UC Berkeley’s student paper The
Daily Californian. She continues teach sex positive thinking and living at
her blog nadiacho.com. Her
hobbies include drinking coffee, playing with cats and being sassy. She
secretly loves Tumblr and kale.
Is it true that smoking marijuana, wearing tight pants, biking
and using laptops ruin your sperm?
--Fashionable Biker-Stoner-Computer Hacker in Search of
We commend your interest in optimizing your sperm health! We will assume by “ruin your sperm” you mean
decreasing your fertility. There have been some recent studies looking at this
A literature review of how recreational drugs affect male fertility found that at least one-third
of chronic marijuana smokers had decreased numbers of sperm. This is probably
from the drug’s effect on hormones like testosterone that control sperm
production. Marijuana, similar to cigarette smoke, also reduces the sperm’s
motility, reducing their ability to swim.
Research has also been done on tight pants. A 1996 study in the
pre-eminent medical journal the Lancet, titled “Tight-fitting Underwear and Sperm
Quality," notes that the optimum temperature for producing human sperm is 35 degrees -- a
temperature the body fiercely protects by adjusting blood flow and scrotal wall
musculature (a.k.a. “shrinkage”). The study compared the sperm of men during 6
months of wearing fitted underpants (“Tighty whitey” arm) and loose underpants
(“boxer brief” arm). There was a significant improvement in sperm concentration
and motility in the group who wore looser underwear. Sorry hipsters, science
supports looser pants for sperm health.
While there is no rigorous data on bicycling that we could
find, a similar principle likely applies: looser, cooler testicles are happier
testicles. Being squashed against a bicycle seat may have similar effects as
And finally, laptops too may be another culprit in modernity’s
oppression of the sperm. A recent study made headlines after showing that when a research subject was exposed to 4 hours
of a wifi-equipped laptop on his lap, his sperm in a test tube showed decreased
motility and increased DNA damage.
We did note that most of these studies are quite small, and are
based on lab measures rather than real-life clinical measures (such as actual
fertility). But the fact that the human species has endured and reproduced in a
huge range of environmental conditions through the eons speaks to the
robustness of human semen -- bicycles and laptops be damned. But if it’s all
the same to you, we advise maintaining your general health with good food,
plenty of exercise, avoiding smoking, and sticking to boxer briefs when you
Monica Hahn and Dharushana Muthulingam
Monica Hahn (L) is a resident physician at the UCSF Family and
Community Medicine Residency at San Francisco General Hospital. She
received her MD from UCSF School of Medicine and her MPH from the UC Berkeley
School of Public Health. She has been involved in community-based youth
empowerment advocacy, as well as HIV prevention projects. She is
currently interested in adolescent health, HIV prevention and sexual health.
She enjoys capoeira, Afro-Latin dance, and Brazilian percussion.
Dharushana Muthulingam (R) is a resident physician in the department of Internal Medicine of the Kaiser
Medical Center in Oakland. She studied medicine at UCSF and public health at UC
Berkeley. She is interested in infectious disease, healthy aging, health
justice and working with patients to live the good and flourishing life. In her
spare time, she has been attempting to read David Foster Wallace's Infinite
Jest. After two years, she is happy to report she is almost half way
I'm a young gay guy who
just hooked up with an female transgender male (FTM). In the heat of the
moment, we did not use a condom. Can he end up pregnant?
--Grand Daddy of Remorse
Your worry has me much concerned. The
probabilities of your FTM hookup getting pregnant depends on the extent of his sex transition. An FTM can get pregnant if he has not had a hysterectomy or
surgical sex reassignment. However, not all FTM people get hysterectomies. It
is getting more common for FTMs to choose to carry children, especially if they
are in relationships where the other partner(s) are not able to become
pregnant. If a FTM person has not had a hysterectomy or oophorectomy, then he still has a uterus and an ova and can become pregnant,
especially if he has stopped taking testosterone.
Unless you are prepared for fatherhood, please practice safe sex
to protect you and your partner(s) from STIs!!! Now it’s not just all about you
– it does takes all partners. And since both you and your sex partner(s) have choices, and
you must discuss and agree on safe sex practices prior to the hookup. You must
learn to become comfortable with safe sex communication or deal with consequences.
Hopefully, you have started a mutually close and verbally open relationship
with your partner(s) so you can start the conversation. Worrying after the fact
gets you nowhere, but embracing your lessons will make you a better and more
Barbie is your sister and pal in all things love and taboo. NYC-based, she loves long walks on city streets, watching sunsets over the river, farming and looking for the next big thing. She's your wellness connector, media maker, and fellow troublemaker. She loves her food homestyle, hands down. If you're ever in NYC, look her up to chat and chew.