This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.
TLC to Profile Man With 132-Pound Scrotum
On August 19, TLC viewers can follow Wesley Warren Jr. around for an hour and see what it was like for him to live with a scrotum weighing over 132 pounds. This latest gawkathon shows the 49-year-old wearing a hoodie to cover up what is between his legs and having trouble doing even the simplest tasks, because of the sheer size of his scrotum. I have not seen the show, and truthfully do not plan to watch it, because I find these “freak of the week” shows to be dehumanizing—we are doing the equivalent of staring and pointing as we sit on our couches thinking, “How did he let it get that bad?” and “Thank god it’s not me.”
In this case, however, the notoriety seems to be just what Warren needed.
In 2008, he says he slammed his right testicle after waking up from a bad dream and by the next day his scrotal sack had grown to the size of soccer ball. The ER treated him for an infection, but the antibiotics did nothing. Warren said that because he didn’t have insurance and/or the financial means to pay surgeons, he had to wait long periods to get in to see specialists, and still no one was able to help him. During this time, his scrotum continued to grow at a rate of about three pounds per month.
Warren took his story to the Howard Stern Show to raise money for a diagnosis and treatment, and it caught the attention of Dr. Joel Gelman, a urologist at the University of California, Irvine who specializes in scrotal lymphedema, an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the scrotum. Gelman offered to do the surgery for free. The mass they removed did indeed weigh 132 pounds, though Gelman says that with the fluid and other tissues, he estimates the total weight Warren was carrying around in his scrotum was around 160 pounds.
New Research Links Breastfeeding to Intelligence in Children
Researchers followed 1,000 women and their babies for over seven years. They found that each additional month a child was breastfed resulted in better language skills at age 3 and increased intelligence at age 7 when compared with babies who were not breastfed. They found, for example, that IQ scores for 7-year-olds increased by about one-third of a point for every month of breastfeeding. This means that a child who was breastfed for a year would score about four points higher on this test than one who was never breastfed. This held true even when controlling for mother’s intelligence.
Four points on an IQ test (which many people question as a means of assessment anyhow) is not the difference between a bright and a doomed future, and the authors do not mean for this study, which is published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, to be used to pressure mothers or induce guilt over past decisions. Instead, they hope it will be used to help support mothers.
In an editorial supporting the article, Dimitri Christakis, one of the authors, says the study underscores the need to support mothers’ ability to breastfeed (or pump) in the workplace and to breastfeed in public during the first year of life. Mandy Belfort, the study’s lead author, told Bloomberg News, “It’s important to point out that breastfeeding is just one factor that influences a child’s intelligence. Our results shouldn’t make parents feel bad for the choice they have made.”
Online Dating Site Sued for Revealing STD Status
A lawsuit has been filed against PositiveSingles.com, an online dating services that claims to be a “warm-hearted and exclusive community for singles and friends with [sexually transmitted diseases] STDs.” (Presumably they cater to those with incurable STDs like herpes or HIV—chlamydia doesn’t last long enough to warrant making a profile on such a site if you take your antibiotics.) These individuals can hook up with others while being upfront about their status. The website promises, however, that a person’s status will not be released outside the site.
There is one problem with this, however. The website is part of a larger organization called SuccessfulMatch.com, which provides a platform for people to create their own online dating services. SuccessfulMatch sites include OlderWomenDating.com, BikerKiss.com, BiCupid.com, SugarDaddyMeet.com, and TallFriends.com, among many, many others. Though PositiveSingles.com promises confidentiality, the service allegedly shares profiles across SuccessfulMatch platforms. This means that someone who admitted to having an STD on PositiveSingles.com but didn’t want to be that honest on MillionaireMatch.com is out of luck.
Two women, one from Canada and one from Washington state, are suing as a result of their STD status showing up on other sites. The lawsuit seeks class-action status, so there may be other plaintiffs who come forward.