Boxers or Briefs? Keeping Da Boyz Happy, Healthy, and Strong

The scrotum (or scrotal sac), an extension of a guy’s lower abdomen, is a pouch of skin that is rich in nerve endings and blood vessels (keep that in mind, gals, when you’re making love to him—the scrotum needs lovin’, too!).

The scrotum has two separate compartments that house a single testis, or testicle. Each testicle is suspended within the sac by a spermatic ford, which can be felt through the skin.

The spermatic cord consists of the vas deferens (the duct through which mature sperm travel), the cremasteric muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. One spermatic cord is almost always longer than the other, which is why one testicle (most often, the left) hangs lower than the other.

The cremasteric muscles play a huge role in men’s fertility. They ensure and maintain sperm production by moving the testicles closer to the body when it’s cold, and further away from the body when it’s hot—these muscles are the climate control center for the testicles.

If the body temperature is cold, the cremasteric muscles tighten and draw the testicles closer to the body, to keep them warm. When the body is warm, the cremasteric muscles relax to bring the testicles further away from the already warm body.

Elevated scrotal temperature affects a guy’s testicular function and fertility! Several factors can contribute to these elevated temperatures:
  • Fever
  • Hot tub/sauna use
  • Tight underwear
  • Laptop computers

Wait, what? Laptop computers?!?

New research has determined that men’s use of a laptop computer in the “laptop” position is linked to significant elevated scrotal temperatures (I know, I know….who participates in studies like this?). Scrotal temperatures increase because of the heat from the laptop computer and because of the sitting position necessary to balance the laptop—the position traps the scrotum tightly between the thighs.

For your best fertility and sexual response, keep da boyz happy: Keep ‘em cozy, but not too cozy!

What do you think of the research about laptop computers? Have you ever linked using your laptop to testicular health?!

You CAN Have a Great Marriage and Parent at the Same Time: Realistic Expectations

Even though for most people bringing home a baby is a joyful experience, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of stressors that come right along with her—the happy nature of the event doesn’t even come close to minimizing the fact that a new person has been added to the family.

Family scientists—folks who study families so they can help families live and love to the best of their abilities—have found that children bring so much stress into a couple’s relationship that spouses experience a huge dip in their marital satisfaction (don’t go buy a gross of condoms just yet…there’s hope!).

If we drew an illustration of what happens to a couple’s marital happiness once kids enter the scene, it would look something like a U-shape.  High levels of marital satisfaction are usually present in the early stages of the marriage, dip to all-time low stages while we’re raising our kids, then gradually climb again as kids become more independent in adolescence. Once teens are launched into their young adult years (college), couples again regain the levels of happiness they had earlier in their marriages.

There is no question that the transition to parenthood is a challenging, often difficult, stage in the developmental course of a family. But the research offers good news: If parents hold realistic expectations going into parenting (and while they’re actively “doing” parenting), there is less stress on them and their relationship.

“No Matter What” Kind of Sex

 

Remember earlier I told you that research shows us that nearly 3 out of 4 marriages end in divorce when a woman becomes seriously ill? Other research might also help to explain why some marriages can’t survive the “worse” in those for-better-or-worse marriage vows.

I spent the better part of two years studying what happens to a woman’s body image and sexual response following a breast cancer diagnosis and/or a mastectomy. Like many other researchers before me, I found that breast cancer is intricately linked to body image in some way for most women (in 93 of the 110 women I studied).

When I did my PhD internship at a breast cancer center, I discovered that the breasts-are-sexuality-femininity connection for women is so significant that many women who needed a mastectomy yesterday to save their lives, refused to do so—primarily because they were so afraid that losing a breast (or breasts) meant that they would also lose their sexuality and femininity. Or their husband.

I vividly recall when one woman in her 30s looked at her husband in desperation and said, “Will you still love me if I’m not pretty?”

But losing a breast isn’t just about appearance and sex to women—it’s about a sense of being whole, about self-esteem, about body image….essentially, it’s about losing their identity.

(WARNING: You are about to see photographs of post-mastectomy women. Please do not read further if you believe these images will disturb you or cause uneasiness.

I include these images so that you can see the reality of breast cancer, and why recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally can be a very, very long process. I also include the images so that you can see why it’s so tough for marriages and sex to survive after an illness like this—and why teaching women to be sexual objects for their husbands can be potentially dangerous to their marriages.) [Read more...]

Lingerie and the Head Hunter

A few years ago, a friend was excited to tell us that he and his wife started educating young couples in their church about sex and sexuality. The front-porch conversation went something like this….

Friend: Yeah, I gotta tell ya, [my wife] and I are pretty popular in church since we started this program for young couples. Guys come up to me in church and give me that you-lucky-dog look. <chuckle, chuckle, wink, wink>

Me: Oh yeah? What program are you teaching?

Friend: There’s a new book out for Christian wives about being more sexual for their husbands. You know, like how to entice them and turn them on.

My husband: You need a book for that?

Me: What’s the [insert air quotes] program?

Friend: It’s really, really cool. Basically, these authors tell women that they should never, ever go to bed in a T-shirt, or anything that’s not sexy. Women should put on make up and do their hair every night.

Me: Every night?

Friend: Yeah, for sure. And she should never, ever go to bed until her husband does. She’s supposed to wait for him to come to bed, and then she’s supposed to undress in front of him, you know, do a strip show for him, and then get into her sexy lingerie. And then do her little sexy show for him. And then get into bed and give him a BJ. And then, you know, have a great time.

Me & Hubby (in near unison): EVery night?

Friend: <peacockish with feathers fanned out> See why I’m so popular in church now?

Me: Where did these ideas come from?

Friend: Don’t you remember the story of the missionaries and they were both chased into the jungle by the tribal people and they caught him and killed him, and she hid in the jungle and survived the attack?

Me: Yeah, but what does this have to do with stripper poles in the bedroom?

Friend: These were her original ideas.

Me (trying to picture a stripper pole in a hut in the jungle): So let me get this straight. Was she running through the jungle in her lingerie? Cuz that would be crazy stuff right there. Was the jungle-running-escaping-from-head-hunters before or after her nightly strip tease?

My Husband: For his sake, I hope before, so he could stand up straight and make a run for it.

Me: Given the outcome…I’m guessing no on that one.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story!

Kelly J

Boobless and….Well…..Still Boobless

This is a lengthy one, so grab your pumpkin spice latte and settle in.

There are a lot of studies out there that have looked at how stress and severe illnesses like breast cancer affect marriages or intimate relationships.

The news isn’t good. Of course, there are many factors that contribute to whether a marriage or an intimate relationship succeeds or fails in times like this (well, or even in times not like this), but a number of the studies show that the divorce rate during or after a serious illness is over 70 percent. Folks, that’s nearly 3 out of 4 marriages that tank after a health crisis.

If you know anything about me, you know that I hate divorce.

Hate it.

I hate what it does to men and women. I hate what it does to kids. I hate what it does to society. I didn’t have divorced parents—but I have taught over 31,000 students and have spoken to college students across this country, and I know what they struggle with. And when I write the books, I read hundreds and hundreds of research articles about divorce. There’s no way to pretty it up. And I refuse to be politically correct about it.

<You’re probably wondering why I’m bringing this up now instead of talking about breast cancer.>

Here’s my point. If marriage really is about through-good-times-and-bad-and-in-sickness-and-in-health-and-when-life-is-stormy-and-when-it’s-quiet—WHY oh WHY do 70 percent of marriages fail in the bad times?

Because this is what happens when we reduce love to something that we do, instead of experiencing it as a part of who we are.

Are you starting to get me, where I’m coming from?

If you do love, you react certain ways when things happen. When you are love, nothing changes. You’re unmovable. You’re steadfast. Rock. Solid.

When I got my diagnosis, I literally couldn’t breathe—I couldn’t gasp in, I couldn’t breathe out. Everything came to a screeching halt. And that’s because no one in my family had ever survived it. I was petrified, and I had good reason to be.

But I had one thing that a lot of women don’t have: A husband who loved me right where I was.

Not the superficial bring-me-a-cup-of-coffee-or-rub-my-back-when-I-don’t-ask-for-it kind of love. But a kind of love that accepted and embraced my weaknesses.

Rock.

Solid.

Love.

One day Dave helped me into the bathroom (okay, you gotta admit that’s a different kind of love altogether). He made a phone call, a phone call he didn’t expect me to overhear. He called my doctor.

I didn’t listen to the entire conversation. But I did hear him say—broken, sobbing uncontrollably, begging—“Please. Please. I just want my wife back. Just promise me you can give me my wife back. I can’t keep watching her go through this. Please.”

<This is the point where, if I were talking to you in person, I would almost be am pleading with you to understand what I’m trying to say. And I would be am crying.>

I didn’t even need to hear his words. All I needed to hear was the emotion behind his words to know that he. loved. me. with a kind of love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. The kind of love that never fails.

Don’t you see? That’s what this entire blog experience is all about. To teach you, to show you, what I know about love…from a research viewpoint…from a personal experience viewpoint…from reality. To somehow get the message out that love is more than a dare.

And to understand that love is more than a promise.

I want you to experience the kind of love that withstands [the early death of a parent or the death of a child or mental illness or a job loss or bad in-laws or money troubles or rebellious teens or cancer or arguing or a horrible job] anything the world throws at it. The no matter what kind of love.

And over the next few weeks I hope to show you how to get this kind of love—so when you do bring your partner a cup of coffee, it’s out of that rock solid love place in your heart.

A couple of days ago, I said that my breast cancer experiences were as much about love as they were anything else.

I mean let’s be real. When all was said and done, nothing changed the fact that I was boobless and, well…..still boobless.

But even though my body didn’t make it through the experiences unscathed, my marriage did. Our love did.

And that’s a victory in and of itself.

Boobless But Bolder

I am not quiet. At all. By any stretch of the imagination. You can always hear me coming. You always know I was there.

I used to try to be quieter. I used to try to be more demure, more reserved. I used to try to take life more seriously. I used to try to not laugh as often or as loud. I used to try to not laugh at things others didn’t necessarily see as funny.

I tried to conform to others’ standards of what it meant to be a “lady” and what it meant to be “beautiful.” Really—I did try.

And then I got sick.

I’m not going to get all Pollyanna on you right now, because I’m going to debunk the urban legend that breast cancer is the best thing that can ever happen to a woman. Personally, I thought it sucked.

Why I Didn’t Wear Lipstick to My Mastectomies

(And Other Valuable Lessons I Was Supposed to Learn but Didn’t)

  • I didn’t learn to laugh at my situation, at myself—The surgeons only cut off my boobs, they didn’t cut out my sense of humor. (And if you knew me, you’d know that my thighs are a far bigger problem than being boobless).
  • I didn’t learn to turn things upside down, to stand things on end—I had been getting in trouble for this for at least 30 years.
  • I didn’t learn determination—I’m Irish. We’re stubborn. (And as any true Irishman knows, the Irish don’t want anyone to wish them well…they want everyone to wish their enemies ill!).
  • I didn’t learn about the unpredictability of life—I had four sons in six years. And I knew what caused it. But it still happened.
  • I didn’t learn to bend the rules of life to get things done—I think I invented it’s-better-to-ask-for-forgiveness-than-permission in 1977.
  • I didn’t learn to become more opinionated and to voice my concerns—Ummm……heellloooo…..
  • I didn’t have to learn that it’s okay to cry—Name any Little House on the Prairie episode and I’ll tell you at what point Pa cried (and when I cried with him).

Now, hopefully readers don’t think that I’m some callous, soulless jerk, and that I’m belittling or making fun of women who have written about their experiences with breast cancer.

Each of my breast cancer predecessor sisters did teach me a lesson—but just in different ways than maybe they intended to.

God was trying to show me through their experiences and through mine that He created me the way I am for a reason.

“And who knows that you have come to [this] position for

such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

For such a time as this. If I hadn’t been bold and loud and a laugher and a defyer of the norm, I’m not so sure I would have come out on the other side of breast cancer as whole as I did.

You see, I don’t think that God smote me with the double mastectomy smack down to get my attention, to somehow make me more reflective and quieter (as a well-meaning woman told me).

I think He wanted me to find my voice, the voice that He gave me.

So here I am today—boobless but bolder.

For such a time as this.

What things about yourself do you need to embrace? To recognize as a strength and not a weakness?

Photo Credit: arbyreed (flickr.com)

Boobless But Not Broken

It’s Pinktober. That most wonderful time of the year, National Breast Cancer Awareness month. The time of year when you can’t find a roll of white toilet paper at Target, much less an orange M&M or an Oreo with white icing.

That time of year where people everywhere remind people everywhere else that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in their lives.

To be perfectly pinkly correct, I thought it might be a good idea to take a little detour to share something with you about my life. But as I sit here and think about it, we’re not really going off course at all….because what I have to share with you is as much about love, intimacy, sex, and relationships as it is anything else.

I’m the boobless girl behind the pink ribbons.

Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with DCIS, an intraductal breast carcinoma. I was 36-years-old. At the time I had four boys all under the age of 12, and I had just begun work on my PhD. And just two years prior to my diagnosis, I buried my mother who died of cancer (at the age of 57). Her sister died from breast cancer at the age of 39, her mother died of breast cancer at the age of 52, and a cousin, diagnosed with breast cancer just a few months after me, died at the age of 43.

Talk about a crappy roll of the genetic dice.

Ironically, it all started on a perfectly pink October day. And once it started, it was a runaway train…..

I found a lump and went to the doctor and he said “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, I’m the doctor and I’ll do the worrying for you, come see me in 6 months,” and I thought “You’re crazy, I just buried my mom you [expletive], I’m not waiting!” so I found another doctor and [skip forward about 4 months of maaaaaaany tests and scans and needles and oh-so-painful biopsies but I still needed to be a good parent and an “A” student and a good little Christian who counted it all joy] she said, “Come into the kiss and cry room and I’ll give you the dreaded diagnosis, the diagnosis I know you know is coming because you saw my face when I drew the fluid out of your breast,” and so Dave and I sat in the low-lit room that had nothing but a box of Kleenex on the table, and we looked at each other and knew and she came in and said, “Both breasts need to be removed immediately to save your life!” and she expected us to cry but we didn’t even need the Kleenex because we were so dumbfounded and confused nothing made any sense so there were no tears and she explained how the breasts that fed all of my babies and gave my husband and I so much pleasure would be “removed” and how the surgical “procedure” would take about 12 hours and how the treatments would start about 4 weeks after the “procedure” and I had the “procedure” and the pain was indescribable and parenting and loving and living with 12 glass drain tubes and two IVs and 100s of stitches was ridiculously unbearable and insanely hilarious all at the same time and like every woman who had cancer before me, and every woman who has had or will have it since me, we took it minute by minute and sometimes we were incredibly strong and other times we were incredibly weak but we did it.

Whew.  We did it.  And that’s what Pinktober is all about.

Boobless, but not broken.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll share what we learned about love through the process.
Kelly
(Which, ironically, in Gaelic means “Warrior Princess.” In breast cancer survivor speak it means “bad ass”!!!)

So Simple a Cave[woman] Can Do It? Parenting Like Cavemen

Did Fred & Wilma Flintstone and Barney & Betty Rubble know something about parenting that we don’t?  According to University of Notre Dame psychology professor, Darcia Narvaez, our ancestors knew a thing or two about raising happy, healthy kids.

Narvaez, who focuses her research on the importance of a child’s first three years as foundational to their overall personality and character development, recently released several new studies. Her research shows that there are certain parenting characteristics that foster mentally healthy, smart kids who show empathy, compassion, and morality.

“The way we raise our children today in this country is increasingly depriving them of the practices that lead to well-being and a moral sense,” says Narvaez.  She provides parents with six childrearing practices in the child’s first 0 to 6 years that lead to healthy attachment:

·Lots of continuous responsive, caring touch—carrying, cuddling, holding, patting. This includes keeping Baby with Mom and Dad, not isolating the baby in her own room.

·Prompt, patient responses to a baby’s cries—it’s impossible to spoil a baby the first several months of life, because babies aren’t biologically or cognitively capable of manipulating people or things in their environments.  It’s best to respond to a baby’s fusses, before they become fully upset. This prevents the release of toxic stress chemicals in the baby. As Narvaez says, “Warm, responsive caregiving keeps the infant’s brain clam in the years it’s forming its personality and responses to the world.”

·Breastfeeding—ideally to the age of two (Narvaez suggests even longer). A child’s immune system isn’t fully developed until about age 6, and needs the healthy building blocks provided in breastmilk.

·Other adult caregivers—grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends…babies enjoy novelty!

·Playmates—of all ages!  Freeplay (not organized play) is the best. Narvaez’s research suggests that children who don’t play enough are more likely to develop ADHD.

·Natural childbirth—Narvaez maintains that unmedicated childbirth provides mothers with hormone boosts, giving Mom extra energy to care for her baby.

Whether a parent adheres to all of these suggestions is purely an individual choice, and clearly, many of them aren’t conducive for the majority of moms who must work outside of the home.

But I think the heart of her message is what matters most:  “Kids who don’t get the emotional nurturing they need in early life tend to be more self-centered. They don’t have the available compassion-related emotions to the same degree as kids who were raised by warm, responsive families.”

Do you believe that children today have lower levels of compassion and morality?

Photo Credit: Dave Nimitz (flickr.com)


Your First Love Experience

As a mom of four sons, it’s tough to find words to describe how I felt when I held each of them in my arms for the first time…especially with my first son, who was pretty beat up trying to make his way into this world.

Looking at his teeny little [very] bruised, [very] scratched face, his [very] wrinkled, pug-like forehead, and his [very elongated] cone head his daddy was sure would never get better, I looked at my baby and said, “You poor, pitiful little thing. Mamma’s gonna love you. Mamma’s gonna keep you safe.”

Oh, I loved each of my babies, no question about that. But it wasn’t a love I had ever before experienced. It was warm and tender and caring, yes. Yet there was something different about this love. Something very different.

My love for my new babies was protective. I was protective. Like never before, I felt this surge of she-bearness. This overwhelming desire to keep my babies from harm. This drive-push-urge to keep them safe. To shield them from whatever the world threw at them.

I nurtured my babies. I kept them safe. I protected them.

But my babies didn’t experience me as nurturing. As keeping them safe. As protecting them. They experienced me as love.

Little did I know, I was shaping their abilities to someday fall in love and to become parents. They love today because we first loved them 20+ years ago.

You see, for most of us, the first love relationship we experience is the parent-child relationship. Born helpless with nothing more than survival reflexes, we are fully reliant upon our parents for every need.

It is this very dependency on others that propels us to form emotional bonds in which we give and receive love. And it is from the experiences of the earliest of all love relationships that our later-in-life love relationships take place. Researchers refer to this close, emotional tie in the early days/months/years as attachment.

Photo Credit: London looks (flickr.com)

What Kind of Lover Are You?

You’ve done a lot of homework this week, so now it’s time for a little fun!  Let’s find out what type of lover you are.

Canadian sociologist John Lee conceptualized love in a manner similar to the Greeks, and he came up with six different love styles. Take a look at these:

  • Eros: Passionate and Tantalizing. Eros refers to a type of sensual or sexual love. Erotic lovers are passionate and romantic and seek out passionately expressive lovers. They thrive on the tantalizing nature of gotta-have-it-baby love and sex. They have an “ideal mate” in their mind’s eye and believe there is only one “true love” in the world for them. Sexual activity usually occurs early on in the relationship, and the sex is hawt, passionate, exciting, and insatiable all at once.
  • Ludus: Flirtatious and Fun. Ludus is a playful, flirtatious, carefree, and casual love. Ludus lovers don’t’ care as much about commitment as they do about playing the sport of love. Variety is the spice of life for ludic lovers, and the more partners, the better. Because ludic lovers don’t share intimacy, ludic lovers consider love to be fun and easy-going. When it comes to love, they are nonchalant and unconcerned about tomorrow.
  • Storge: Affectionate and Constant. This type of love develops over time, and engenders shared interests, trust, and acceptance. Storgic lovers are friends as well as lovers. They’re patient and consistent.
  • Manic: Frenzied and Chaotic. Jealousy, envy, protectiveness, and exclusivity (to the point of cutting off family and friends) are the hallmark traits of manic lovers. Manic love is frenzied, agitated, hectic, and chaotic. The highs are very high, the lows are very low—making the relationship very much a roller-coaster ride of emotions.
  • Pragma: Practical and Careful. Practicality and logic guide the pragmatic lover. If the “perfect mate” items on the pragmatic lover’s love map are fulfilled—suitability of education, family background, religious beliefs, and so on—the love candidate has a good chance of becoming a mate.
  • Agape: Selfless and Patient. Exemplified by Jesus, agape love is a selfless, enduring love. It is altruistic in nature, which means love partners promote the well-being of the other. It is an other-centered—not a me-centered—type of love. It is an unconditional, willful, I-love-you-because-I-choose-to kind of love. It does not demand immediate gratification of needs or wants, and it expects nothing in return. Inherent to agape love is patience, kindness, and permanence.
What type of lover are you?  What type of lover is your spouse? Find out here!
Photo Credit: papillon (flickr.com)