It’s Valentine’s Day soon and what better way to celebrate than to talk all things scientific about the orgasm? Mary Roach’s TED talk, ’10 things you didn’t know about orgasm’ is an enlightening 17 minute watch, though one you might not want to be broadcasting at full volume.
In it, Roach delves into obscure scientific research to discover 10 claims about the big O, some funny, some abnormal and some downright bizarre. Ever wanted to know about a woman who can literally ‘think’ herself to orgasm, or the time a medical journal wanted to approve climax as a potential cure for hiccups? Then this might be the TED talk for you.
One of the main theories that Roach focuses on is the relative importance of the orgasm for the female of the species and fertility. Named ‘upsuck’ theory, the idea was that an orgasm in women acted to – yes you guessed it – ‘suck’ semen up the cervix and deliver it quickly to the egg, increasing the chances of conception. In Hippocrates time it was even considered necessary for a woman to have an orgasm in order to become pregnant.
Unfortunately for us females, it does seem that science has, excusing the pun, screwed us over in regards to our partner’s efforts to ‘return the favour’. In the 1950’s, renowned sexual researchers Masters and Johnson disproved upsuck theory via the use of an X-ray device and … artificial semen. According to Roach, recipes for making such a concoction include flour or corn starch mixed with water.
Although don’t feel too bad girls, it seems that upsuck theory is actually true in other species, much to their misfortune. I’ll leave you to listen to the talk for the details, but lets just say that in Denmark, farmers were receiving rather technical DVD instructions on how to stimulate sows in order to increase their farrowing rates. Not so sure that’s really a win for the sows. Or the farmers.
Other interesting facts raised are the importance of masturbation for men to keep their sperm more effective (funny how the theory always seem to provide men with an excuse) as well as an impressive tidbit about an anonymous participant in a Kinsey study whose ejaculation managed to reach over seven feet.
Overall, Roach gave an interesting if mostly unproved talk about the scientific secrets of the orgasm. Though it wont be for everyone, the audience was clearly amused by Roach’s presentation and if you’re looking for some impressive facts to throw into a conversation (though how you lead the conversation into a divulgence of such knowledge I’ll leave to you) then this is certainly the TED talk for you.
Mary Roach is a writer who has tackled various provocative subjects. She has published several books exploring death, the afterlife and sex, including ‘Bonk’ her findings on the science of sex. Her TED talk, ’10 things you didn’t know about orgasm’ can be found on ted.com under the ‘Science’ section.