Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bisexuality on the rise, says new U.S. survey

Bisexuality on the rise, says new U.S. survey


By Carina Storrs, Special to CNN

A growing number of women and men say they are bisexual, according to the latest national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As awareness about bisexuality has grown over the years, it could be getting easier for people to label themselves as bisexual, said Debby Herbenick, associate professor at Indiana University and author of the book “Sex Made Easy,” who was not involved in the study.

Researchers asked more than 9,000 people in the United States age 18 to 44 about the types of sexual experiences they have had, whether they are attracted to the same or opposite sex and whether they identify as being straight, gay/lesbian or bisexual. Interviews were conducted between 2011 and 2013 as part of the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth.

Many of the findings about sexual behavior, attraction and orientation were similar between the current survey and the previous (2006-2010) family growth survey. Similar to previous surveys the group conducted, 1.3% of women and 1.9% of men said they were homosexual.

However a few trends stood out. More women reported having had sexual contact with other women: 17.4% in the current survey compared with 14.2% in the 2006-2010 survey. And higher numbers of both women and men identified as bisexual, 5.5% of women and 2% of men, compared with 3.9% and 1.2% respectively in the last survey.

“It’s certainly not a new idea that women and men may be attracted to more than gender,” Herbenick said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy orientation to adopt. Women and men who self-identify as bisexual experience stigma not just from heterosexuals but also homosexuals,” she said.

The finding that women were more likely than men to say they were bisexual is consistent with what previous studies have found, said Casey E. Copen, demographer at the CDC National Center for Health Statistics and lead author of the study, which was published on Thursday.

Women were also more likely than men to report having same-sex sexual contact. Compared with 17.4% of women, only 6.2% of men said they had ever had this activity.

However, as Copen noted, the survey could have given women more opportunity than men to report same-sex sexual contact. For example, women were asked if they have engaged in oral sex or any other sexual experience with another woman, whereas men were asked specifically whether they have engaged in oral or anal sex with another man.

The wording of questions in the survey could also be part of the reason for the low number of men who said they were gay, Copen said. Other surveys have found that closer to 4% to 6% say they are gay, a higher proportion than the 1.9% in the current survey.

Among women who reported being lesbian, the rate of 1.3% is consistent with other surveys. Over the last several decades, fewer women have been saying they are lesbian and more report being bisexual, similar to what the current study found, Herbenick said.

There is high correspondence between how survey participants identified themselves — whether straight, gay/lesbian or bisexual — and the sexual attractions and behaviors they reported, Copen said. For example, among those who labeled themselves heterosexual, 12.6% of women and 2.8% of men had had sexual contact with the same sex.

“You do expect some differences, because for some people … they may or may not have had the experiences they’re contemplating, [especially] if they’re younger,” Copen said.

The survey found some differences between women of different racial groups. Only 11.2% of Hispanic women have engaged in same-sex sexual contact compared with 19.6% of white women and 19.4% of black women.

The next survey, covering 2014 and 2015, will be coming out this fall, Copen said. These surveys are important to allow researchers “to separate out and study these categories, like lesbian and bisexual women and gay and bisexual men, because they all have different health outcomes and different levels of access to health care,” she said.

Understanding trends in sexual behavior and orientation can help health groups and programs reach at-risk populations, Herbenick said. For example, putting information about sexually transmitted infections in a gay bar may only reach men who identify as being gay, and miss men who have sex with men but do not identify as being gay.

“There are real effects when you find out what people are doing sexually that can translate into safer sex, sex education, (and) informing doctors and nurses (about) what people are doing so they can talk with them in more informed and compassionate ways,” Herbenick said.

A High Red Meat Intake Could Hurt Male Fertility

A High Red Meat Intake Could Hurt Male Fertility

Attention carnivores—if you are trying to conceive with your partner lay off processed meat. A recent study found that those men who consumed a lot of processed, red meat such as sausage and bacon had poorer success rates than those who ate mostly poultry. The study does not prove causality merely that a link exists. Lots of other studies have illustrated a connection between diet and fertility. But it can be hard to isolate exactly how much each food item affects the male reproductive system.


President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Dr. Rebecca Sokol wrote a press release about this study. She said it suggests such meat makes it more difficult for fertilization to occur. Eating a healthy diet is not only best for reproductive health she wrote, but overall health as well. Other physicians are considering adding a ban on processed meat to the list of recommendations they give those patients desiring fatherhood. Other items include quitting smoking, decreasing alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, and losing weight.

Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, led by Dr. Wei Xia conducted the study. They followed the cases of 141 couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) at Massachusetts General Hospital. The male partners filled out a questionnaire including questions about their diet, such as their weekly meat consumption and what kinds of meat they ate. There was no correlation between the total amount of meat consumption and the success of IVF. However, those men who ate the most fowl were 13% more successful than those who ate the least amount of poultry.

Some doctors say that it could be those who consumed more chicken may have an overall healthier diet than those who ate more processed meat. But today most doctors would agree that it is a good idea to avoid such meat when trying to conceive. Any couple trying for six months to a year without success should seek out a medical professional. 50% of the time the problem comes from the male side of the equation. Men who have been trying with their partner for this long or longer should speak with their doctor or an urologist. 

The Best Way to Broach the “STD Talk” with a New Partner

The Best Way to Broach the “STD Talk” with a New Partner


The CDC recommends talking about STDs each and every time you have a new partner. This should occur before sexual relations commence. Of course, this conversation can be awkward. There is a social stigma surrounding STDs, despite whether the person practiced safe sex in their past or acquired one through some kind of accident. Also, there is a lack of education on the part of many, solidifying the stigma. Today we are in the midst of a casual, hookup culture. Since relationships especially among young people are kept superficial, partners are more afraid to broach uncomfortable topics, or ask deeply probing questions. You cannot take all of the sting out of this conversation. But there are some helpful ways to broach the subject when with a new partner that can limit discomfort and keep things on a positive track. One of the best ways to do it, is to begin with yourself.


Let them know the last time you were tested. Tell your partner if there has been any infections in your past, or if you are dealing with an ongoing one such as herpes or HIV. Tell them what your preferred method of protection is, and ask what they prefer. Think about what you want to say beforehand when you think things may be leading to sex. But be sure this talk occurs before you are in the throes of passion, so that it does not ruin the mood, and both of you can enjoy peace of mind. In any hookup situation, you should use a condom regardless. Sometimes people have STIs, an infection which is not showing symptoms.

Instead of asking a partner to get tested, make it a “we” thing. Ask them to go with you, and get tested together before the act takes place. If they are resistant, remind them that every sexually active adult should be tested at least once a year, according to the CDC. For men that means going to a clinic, seeing a doctor, or an urologist.

A Few Unseemly Options for Male Enhancement

A Few Unseemly Options for Male Enhancement

Ads for increasing the length and size of the penis flood the internet. Few of us have to be told that most if not all are illegitimate. These products and procedures can cause unseemly side effects, while hardly any gain in size or girth is achieved. For instance, researchers at the University of Turin in Italy investigated male enhancement procedures in two studies. The first contained 121 male subjects, the second 109.


These scientists concluded that the vast majority of procedures were too dangerous and risked serious complications. Moreover, for most men seeking these surgeries or devices, the problem is not in their pants but in their head. One 2005 study with 92 male participants found that although each went to a physician for enhancement, none actually had a small penis. The majority of men are average in size according to a recent British study. Small is considered 3 in. (7.6 cm) when erect. Anything above that is normal. Media focus on size, societal pressure to be above average in everything, mistaken impressions from porn, and general male confusion over what the average size looks like fuel this phenomenon. Still, Italian researchers did come across a few options that had positive results.

One was the “traction method.” Here a penis stretcher was attached to the member each day. The penis was then put in traction for four to six hours over the course of four months. The end result was a gain of 0.67 in. (1.7 cm) when erect. In one small study, penoscrotal rings were utilized. These squeeze the scrotum and base of the penis, increasing size and helping a man to maintain an erection. Another option was using a penis pump daily. This is a vacuum tube which is placed over the penis. A hand pump creates suction, engorging the penis with blood. Healthy men found this option to be painful and the gain less than significant. There are certain procedures in the works such as injectable enlargement products. But these have some time before they hit the market.

Any man truly dissatisfied with his size should discuss the matter with a doctor or urologist, get some perspective, and see what his options truly are.