Weirdly Specific Penis Facts You (Probably) Didn't Know: coagulating cum, Herbalife, 4-hour erections, and more
I'm not sure why I thought The Penis Book would be super serious.
There were no fewer than 11 nicknames for the penis and 26 puns in the introduction alone, including:
- “I already have a firm grip on that matter, but in writing this book, I probed even deeper.”
- “We look at how much of what's advertised is snake oil, and how much is really snake.”
- “This sticky subject is tackled tastefully. But that's not the whole wad.”
Dr. Aaron Spitz made it fit.
While the subject matter is serious at times — discussing topics like cardiovascular health, body image (i.e., “Does size matter?”), and performance anxiety — The Penis Book felt like just shooting the shit with a friend who knows a lot about the penis from, yes, owning one, but also studying and treating many.
On the flip side, the introduction of Dian Hanson's Little Big Penis book was more profound than I expected. Is the rest of it “just” extra-hung photography? Totally. And what woman on dating apps hasn't been asked, “Want to see my 12-inch penis?” and at least been curious just what a 12-inch penis looks like? (Ah, just me? Okay.) But the anti-obscenity laws this book discusses still feel all too real in the current cultural climate.
There's room for the silly, the salacious, and the somber regarding these weirdly specific penis facts. Our first coming attraction is cum.
- I. Semen contains enzymes for coagulation and liquefication
- II. H. Lynn Womack was convicted of obscenity, claimed insanity, sued the post office, and won
- III. Nobel Prize-winning pharmacologist Louis J. Ignarro collaborated with Herbalife
- IV. If your erection lasts more than 2 hours, your doctor might suggest cold medicine
- V. The Viagra story isn't all happy endings for couples
- VI. Let's wrap it up: male fertility, penile health, and beyond
Semen contains enzymes for coagulation and liquefication
Ever notice that there's a time delay after intercourse for semen to drip out, and it's not quite the viscosity it was when it came in? There's a reason for that: semen actually gels and liquefies!
Sperm makes between 2 to 10% of semen by volume; most of the rest is fluid from the seminal vesicles and prostate.
Just one set of ingredients in the cocktail are semenogelin proteins — which do exactly what the name says: they coagulate the semen, meant to keep sperm inside the vagina after intercourse. A scientist thought, “semen gelling,” and that was that. It has a convenient abbreviation: SEMGs.
Then, a signaling cascade involving zinc and kallikreins from the prostate cleaves the SEMGs — letting the sperm free to swim 15–30 minutes later.
“Now, the little guys may not always get to [inject DNA into an egg],” wrote Dr. Spitz, “But they don't have to know. Let them dream.”
- Physiological roles of semenogelin I and zinc in sperm motility and semen coagulation on ejaculation in humans by Yoshida et al.
- Mechanism of semen liquefaction and its potential for a novel non-hormonal contraception by Anamthathmakula and Winuthayanon
H. Lynn Womack was convicted of obscenity, claimed insanity, sued the post office, and won
This section of The Little Big Penis Book's introduction sounded wilder to me as I reread it. Let's break it down because there's so much to unpack here.
Herman Lynn Womack was convicted of obscenity under the Comstock Act of 1873, which made it illegal to send “obscene, lewd, or lascivious” materials through the USPS. The offending material? Bare man butts in MANual, what Wikipedia calls a “Chicago physique art publication.”
Homosexuality was considered a mental illness back then, so Womack, with his psychology degree, manipulated doctors at a federal psychiatric hospital and stayed there for 18 months, “where he continued to run his magazines from a private room and plot his attack on the postal service,” wrote Dian Hanson in The Little Big Penis Book.
He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court and ultimately won. The Supreme Court case MANual Enterprises, Inc. vs. Day set a precedent: a male nude "cannot fairly be regarded as more objectionable than many portrayals of the female nude that society tolerates.”
- A Penis on Every Page: The Rise and Fall of Playgirl by Matthew Rettenmund for Esquire
- What to Know About the Comstock Act by Luke Vander Ploeg and Pam Belluck for the New York Times
- “Once thought a relic, the 1873 federal law is now at the center of a legal battle over abortion pills.”
Nobel Prize-winning pharmacologist Louis J. Ignarro collaborated with Herbalife
NO is a crucial component of cardiovascular (and penile) health, earning the researchers who discovered its role a Nobel Prize in 1998. It works as a signaling molecule to help relax smooth muscle in blood vessel walls — and, in turn, increases blood flow and boosts the “hydraulic lines” of an erection.
Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Stendra work with this signaling pathway: by blocking phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) from counteracting nitric oxide.
- The Role of Nitric Oxide in Erectile Dysfunction: Implications for Medical Therapy
- Mechanisms of action of PDE5 inhibition in erectile dysfunction
- Phosphodiesterase‑5 (PDE5) Inhibitors In the Management of Erectile Dysfunction
But how the hell did I go from reading about boner pills to MLMs? (I meant multi-level marketing businesses, not men loving men — that would have been way more obvious!)
I Googled “1998 Nobel Prize,” which led me to Robert F. Furchgott, Louis J. Ignarro, Ferid Murad, and Salvador Moncada. “Louis Ignarro” led me to such an eloquently-worded search suggestion: “Who won the Nobel Prize for Herbalife doctor?”
And yup, Louis Ignarro worked as a consultant for Herbalife, then was on its Scientific Advisory Board. Together, they developed and promoted Niteworks, a supplement containing (among other compounds) a blend of L‑arginine and L‑citrulline for supporting NO production.
The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated that statement, and the product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
I'm not telling you what to think of Dr. Ignarro, but Leonid Schneider from For Better Science certainly spoke his mind. Meanwhile, it's just fun flipping through a book with long schlongs and imagining a caveman grunting, “Who won Nobel Prize for Herbalife doctor?”
If your erection lasts more than 2 hours, your doctor might suggest cold medicine
Of course, we're not just talking about any cold medication. Pseudoephedrine (brand name: Sudafed) works as a vasoconstrictor to reduce swelling and congestion and has the opposite effect of Viagra.
“By the 4th hour, [a boner]'s not so fun anymore,” wrote Dr. Spitz. “[That's] not a healthy situation … because the blood is trapped in the erection and, over time, the penis becomes starved for oxygen.”
When managing priapism (a persistent erection that lasts too long), Sudafed is just one of many potential steps. Here's a summary of how to bring down a relentless boner from mild to severe:
- Bust a nut (duh)
- Do some intense exercise
- Take pseudoephedrine or a nasal phenylephrine nasal spray around the 2‑hour mark
- Don't do this step if you're already taking nitroglycerine-containing medications.
- Call your provider or going to urgent care for a phenylephrine injection to the penis around the 3‑hour mark
- Go to the emergency room if it's been more than 4 hours
- It would be an emergency at this point since having an erection for longer may lead to permanent complications
I purposely dumbed down the suggestions because this blog post is no substitute for medical attention. A doctor can provide an action plan with more nuance, including telling you if the pills or phenylephrine injections aren't suitable for your situation.
I'm more just fascinated that, while boner and climax issues are well-known side effects of antidepressants, many over-the-counter meds can also make it harder to get hard:
- Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- H2 blockers (Zantac, Pepcid)
- NSAIDs like ibuprofen
And, of course, recreational drugs can have an effect, too. Whiskey, anyone?
The Viagra story isn't all happy endings for couples
Here's something not so fun: it's an actual thing where Viagra can play into divorce.
While it's not the root cause, Viagra may exacerbate the following:
- Husbands focusing on intercourse and skimping on other sex acts, particularly those involving direct clitoral stimulation
- Mismatched libidos if he wants sex more than she does
- Infidelity in marriage
- Pressure and coercion when he doesn't want to “waste” a pill
- Lifestyle changes related to “midlife crisis” or “empty nest syndrome.”
And we don't typically hear about women's side of the story. Viagra is fantastic for men and resurrects passion for some couples, but some women find their pleasure deprioritized for his sake.
“Many women complain that their pleasure is not prioritised,” she told me. “It is all about ‘look what I've got!’ They feel: ‘Wait a minute. Where am I in all this? Is it just my lover and his penis and I come third?'”—‘Foreplay just vanished’: 25 years on, how Viagra changed sex for older women forever by Kate Lister, Ph.D. via i news UK.
I don't often play into the stereotype of women being reticent or passive to sex, considering I'm a libidinous lady and worry more about a partner not “keeping up” with me. However, I'm only 29 years old and single (as of the day this post was written), and we're talking about middle-aged hetero couples where one party is artificially augmented by modern medicine.
Sometimes, the man is experiencing a sexual renaissance after the woman has gone through menopause. On the flip side, it's not unheard of for women to have affairs with older men who otherwise would have been impotent before.
- ‘Foreplay just vanished’: 25 years on, how Viagra changed sex for older women forever by Kate Lister, Ph.D. via i news UK.
- Viagra And Divorce: Is There A Link? by Natalie Gregg, JD via Huffington Post
- Attitudes about sexuality and aging via Harvard Medical School
- Viagra Seen As Factor in Divorce via Charles R. Ullman & Associates
- Till Viagra do us part? by Karen S. Peterson via USA TODAY
Let's wrap it up: male fertility, penile health, and beyond
A stranger might raise an eyebrow and tell me, “You know too much about the penis,” but it's hard for me to imagine such a thing as knowing too much.
If it weren't for fascination with the cock's corpora, we wouldn't have:
- Semen analysis to understand male fertility (or lack thereof) since it takes two to tango
- The understanding that male infertility is the most common reason for IVF in the UK, despite so much cultural weight placed on female fertility and so little on the other side of the equation
- A way to construct or reconstruct penises out of other tissues or even transplant them
- More avenues of medical help for veterans and their spouses to reconnect after injury or PTSD-induced ED
If I took anything away from The Penis Book, it's that the cultural narrative of “penises are simple, and vaginas are complicated” hurts everyone. Sexual shame and stigma hurt everyone.
It is also clear that these themes are shaped by wider societal discourses which present men as (unproblematically) fertile, uninvested in parenthood, and stoic in their approach to emotional distress. Such norms also ensure that reproduction continues to be presented as a 'women's issue’ which burdens women and marginalises men [in the context of reproductive medicine].— The social construction of male infertility: a qualitative questionnaire study of men with a male factor infertility diagnosis by Esmée Hanna and Brendan Gough in Sociology of Health & Illness
Much like The Penis Book, this post quickly went from silly to serious.
So if you own a penis, I'll leave you with this: take care of yourself euphemistically and literally. Penile health is linked to cardiovascular health is linked to mental health is linked to full-body health.
And when someone with a penis starts having cardiovascular issues, erectile dysfunction is one of the first warning signs (if not the only one) of an impending heart attack or obstructive sleep apnea (which can also lead to a heart attack).
Please, please, please set ego aside for a doctor's visit that might save your life. Yes, I want my readers to have a good time, but I also wish you a good time for a long time.
PLEASURE PRINCESS. COMPACT, HIGH-CAPACITY HUMAN. CERVIX SORCERESS.
I've tested over 350 sex toys and love diving deep for cervical orgasms, A‑spot stimulation, and kinky odysseys into the subconscious.
Mesmerizing mindfucking or physical fisting? Blowing men or minds? Opening books or legs? Why not all of the above?
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