Immunity strength over the menstrual cycle differs depending on sexual activity.

Tierney Lorenz was awarded “Best Short Presentation” at the 41st annual meeting of the International Academy of Sex Research for her presentation, “Sexual Activity Moderates Shifts In Th1/Th2 Cytokine Profile Across the Ovarian Cycle.”

Lorenz and her co-investigators Julia Heiman and Greg Demas at Indiana University found that women who are sexually active have different immunity profiles over their menstrual cycle than women who are not sexually active. This is most pronounced during ovulation, when a drop in immunity allows for conception to occur.

In 2014, Dr. Lorenz discussed this study and what she expected to find:  
Women’s immunity strength is like an on/off switch when the body is ready to reproduce. This is important because the immune system dampens down at the point of ovulation in order to allow potential sperm to survive; otherwise, a super strong immunity would lead to sperm attack, and that would be the end of the human species!” 
Look for the paper on this research to be published next month in Fertility and Sterility.

Researchers find romantic kissing is not the norm in most cultures

Reprinted from the IU newsroom

For generations, passionate kisses immortalized in movies, songs and the arts have served as a thermometer of romantic affection. But current research has found that not only is romantic kissing not the norm in most cultures, some find it uncomfortable and even flat-out repulsive.

Justin Garcia, research scientist at Kinsey Institute, is the co-author of a new study published in the journal American Anthropologist — "Is the Romantic-Sexual Kiss a Near Human Universal?" — that looked at 168 cultures throughout the world to better understand where kissing does and doesn’t occur. Using standard cross-cultural methods, the study found that fewer than half of all cultures surveyed — 46 percent — engage in romantic/sexual kissing. Romantic kissing was defined as lip-to-lip contact that may or may not be prolonged. 

“We hypothesized that some cultures would either not engage in romantic/sexual kissing, or find it to be a strange display of intimacy, but we were surprised to find that it was a majority of cultures that fell into this category,” said Garcia, assistant professor of gender studies in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences. “This is a real reminder of how Western ethnocentrism can bias the way we think about human behavior.”

Romantic kissing was most prevalent in the Middle East, where all 10 of the cultures studied engaged in it. In North America, 55 percent of cultures engaged in romantic kissing, along with 70 percent in Europe and 73 percent in Asia. But there was no evidence of romantic kissing in Central America, and no ethnographer working with Sub-Saharan African, New Guinean or Amazonian foragers or horticulturalists reported any evidence of romantic kissing in the populations they studied, according to the research.

The research conducted by Garcia and colleagues also found a relationship between social complexity and kissing: The more socially complex and stratified a society is, the higher the frequency of romantic kissing.
Interest in the study stemmed from renewed attention in the role of close touch and kissing in people’s romantic and sexual lives, Garcia said. Recent work on the issue, he said, has made claims about the universality of erotic kissing, some even claiming 90 percent of societies engage in the act.

"However, we realized no one had used standard cross-cultural methods to assess how frequently kissing actually occurs in different societies, but by doing so, we could begin to understand why it might occur in some places and not others,” he said.

"It is not clear where romantic/sexual kissing evolved from," Garcia said. Some animals engage in similar behaviors; chimpanzees, for example, are known to engage in open-mouth kissing.

When it comes to humans kissing, Garcia pointed out that it does serve as a way to learn more about a partner, “whether one feels there is any ‘chemistry,’ or possibly to assess health via taste and smell, and in some ways to assess compatibility with each other.”

"There is likely a biological underpinning to kissing, as it can often involve exchange of pheromones and saliva, and also pathogens -- which might be particularly dangerous in societies without oral hygiene, where kissing may lead to spread of respiratory or other illness,” he said. “But this is only in societies that have come to see the erotic kiss as part of their larger romantic and sexual repertoires. How that shift occurs is still an open question for research.”

Study co-authors are William Jankowiak, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, and Shelly Volsche, graduate research assistant in anthropology, both at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Jankowiak, W.R., Volsche, S.L., & Garcia, J.R. (2015). Is the romantic-sexual kiss a near human universal? American Anthropologist, 117(3), 535‐539.

The Kinsey Institute Condom Team Strikes Again

The Kinsey Institute Condom Use Research Team (KICURT) teamed with psychophysiology researchers Brandon Hill and Erick Janssen to further understand the role that condoms play in relation to erectile issues. In this recent study of 479 young heterosexual men, they found that condoms are not necessarily the culprit for erection problems. 

In previous studies, the team defined “condom-associated erectile problems (CAEP)”, and devised a condom-application ‘homework’ module to help men overcome the psychological and physical barriers that interfere with successful condom use. (see Kinsey Today, Fall 2013, "Condom Homework Helpful"). The current study sought to understand whether men who report CAEP are more likely to have erection problems when not using condoms and whether they meet clinical criteria for erectile dysfunction (ED). Men aged 18-24 who did and did not experience CAEP were recruited on campus through electronic flyers and Facebook posts. 

The study revealed that men with CAEP were also likely to have had more generalized erection difficulties, both during intercourse and before penetration, than men who did not report erection problems with condoms. Although the majority of these young men did not meet clinical criteria for ED, significantly more of the men who reported CAEP were classified as having mild to moderate ED using a standardized measure. A previous study by KICURT found that men who used erection enhancing medications such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra were more likely to report CAEP than men who did not use such drugs. 

The team recommends that clinicians assess whether men who use condoms experience CAEP and examine its relationship to general erectile functioning, possibly referring men for sex therapy and condom use education. KICURT is also examining other factors that may contribute to both condom-related problems and general erection problems in young men, from medications to psychological concerns to condom use education, in order to improve condom use interventions.

Sanders, S., Hill, B.J., Janssen, E., Graham, C.A., Crosby, R.A., Milhausen, R.R., and Yarber, W.L. 2015. General Erectile Functioning among Young, Heterosexual Men Who Do and Do Not Report Condom-Associated Erection Problems (CAEP) The Journal of Sexual MedicineDOI: 10.1111/jsm.12964
Sanders SA, Milhausen RR, Crosby RA, Graham CA, & Yarber WL. (2009) Do phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors protect against condom-associated erection loss and condom slippage? Journal of Sexual Medicine, 6(5):1451-1456. DOI:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01267.x. PMID:19453932
Read more from the Kinsey Institute Condom Use Research Team and listen to a Dan Savage "lovecast" with Cynthia Graham about this study.

Find other new research publications from the Kinsey Institute on our website »

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