By David Futrelle
Today’s nuggets of vagina wisdom come courtesy of some dude who just tried to post this thing below on my blog. Apparently the vagina (and the female reproductive system in general) is some sort of sperm-powered locomotive.
I must have missed this day in Sex Ed.
And all the girlfriends I’ve had must have been malfunctioning too, as they generally seemed to prefer it when no sperm reached their reproductive organs at all, due to their desire not to be pregnant all the time or even ever.
I’m trying to imagine HareyS here on a date. When exactly does he bring all this stuff up? Does he launch into a speech about sperm the minute he and his date sit down for a few cocktails? Or does he try to subtly work it into converstation?
Her: Sorry I’m late! My car wouldn’t start so I had to take the bus.
Him: Interesting. You know what else can’t really function [leans in] … without sperm?
Actually, I’m guessing this guy doesn’t go on many dates.
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Thing is, humans have suboptimal features everywhere. Evolution doesn’t have some designer picking the best features, we just get what keeps us going until the next generation. For instance, even just looking at the reproductive tract, it might make more sense to have the pleasurable areas further from the excretory system (i.e. have penises or clitorises further from the anus and urethra). Or to make it impossible for ectopic pregnancy to occur. Or any number of tweaks that would reduce the chance of miscarriage or maternal mortality.
I’m of the age where I say the reproductive system is fine – but can we please have knees and spines with working lifespans that more or less match ours!
Perils of being early adopters, I guess. 😛
Is it just me or was the site just down for about 3 hours? It kept saying 503: Bad Gateway.
Not just you.
literally “survival of the survivors”
Yeah, the site was down. Grrr. I don’t know what’s causing it.
I think it was probably a different cause than last time because the error message (at least on my end) was different. The previous outage, it said something about “database error” but this one it had something about a bad gateway. I know that’s a server side issue, but I’m not sure how to resolve it. Anyway, it’s back online now.
IIRC menstrual bleeding occurs in most primates and some bats, while monthly (or several times a year) ovulation occurs in quite a many mammals. That human ovulation is hidden* is a more unusual feature unrelated to menstruation.
* Notwithstanding some above the baseline horniness.
Please root for us! The postal system needs all the goodwill it can get. Changes are already affecting my station and folks, it isn’t good.
@ cats in shiny hats
I certainly will. Especially now I know you have powers of arrest!
We should value our postal carriers.
It is very strange that other than humans and our fellow simians, the only mammals that undergo menstruation are bats, elephant shrews, and the spiny mouse. All the rest of them just reabsorb the endometrium with no fuss.
The obvious follow-up question of course, is “why”? Apparently the current thinking is that it improves maternal control in the maternal-fetal conflict by increasing selectivity over the embryo, but even then it doesn’t explain why the reproductive system would produce so much unneeded material only to expend it all- humans reabsorb about two-thirds of the endometrium each cycle, but the remaining one-third can still be a noticeable loss of perfectly good blood. It can’t be for no reason.
Yes it can. Quite a lot of things are the way they are in biology for no particular reason. There’s no reason we should get scurvy, but our fructivorous ancestors lost the gene for making Vitamin C, so we do. Pandas are the colour pattern they are due to genetic drift: since they neither hunt nor hide, there’s no selective pressure on their colouration, so it just came out the way it is.
That one’s not solely a manospheric notion: I’ve encountered it among female vegan (and often specifically raw food) bloggers:
@Full Metal Ox
The most likely explanation for some vegan women not having periods is malnutrition. Vegan diets can provide all the necessary nutrients if properly balanced and supplemented, but many bloggers may not be doing this and might have amenorrhea caused by malnutrition. This is dangerous and should not be the goal of any diet.
Some time after I made that post, I read some new research suggesting that it had another purpose- that of selectively rejecting embryos that wouldn’t have survived pregnancy.
See, uterine cells apparently have ways of detecting chromosomal abnormalities in an embryo, and if they’re detected a sequence of epigenetic changes occurs to prevent the formation of the placenta, ensuring that the defective embryo is flushed out with the rest of the endometrium. Not so coincidentally, humans and other primates are highly prone to aneuploidy and other chromosomal errors, so they’d have more “doomed” embryos than other mammals.
(Incidentally, this may explain why women who are prone to miscarrying get pregnant more easily- the systems that regulate this selectivity might not be working correctly, allowing embryos with catastrophic chromosomal errors to implant when they would normally be rejected.)
The menstruation part itself was a byproduct of not having the uterine lining build up solely upon receiving hormonal signals from an embryo, which would prevent such a screening process from working. In light of this, the waste of energy from menstruation is counterbalanced by avoiding the potential of wasting even more resources nurturing an embryo which would have been miscarried anyway.
I know more about the female reproductive system than this guy, and I haven’t been near one since the Kennedy administration.
I agree that I was seriously horny long about mid-month. I was, however, assiduous about birth control.
My sex drive took a nose-dive during the last 4-6 days before my period would start, only to skyrocket the day my period started. If I woke up suddenly wanting to grab a man, any man*, I needed to take tampons with me to work.
TMI, I realize, but on-topic.
* Okay, not *any* man; I had some standards. But “Chads” were not generally my type.