Search Results for sneezing

Sneezy does it: Sex, sneezing, and sneezing fetishes

Woman: (sneezes and moans several times)

Man: “Excuse me, but is everything OK?”

Woman: “Yes, it’s just that I have this condition where every time I sneeze I have an orgasm.”

Man: “Are you taking anything for it?”

Woman: (smiling) “Yes. Pepper.”

Apologies for starting this blog with an old joke but I thought it was a good way to bring up the relationship between sex and sneezing. There are reports in the medical and psychological literature dating back to the 1890s of sexually induced sneezing in both men and women. The phenomenon is characterized by sneezing during sexual arousal and/or orgasm. In such cases, these individuals sneeze as a direct result of sexual thoughts, arousal, intercourse, and/or orgasm. Furthermore, the sneezing may occur at any point during a sexual experience, and most importantly occurs independently of any external nasal stimuli or allergens.

The first verified report of the phenomenon was thought to be in 1898 when John Noland Mackenzie wrote about the phenomenon (“The physiological and pathological relations between the nose and sexual apparatus of man”) in the Journal of Laryngology, Rhinology and Otology. A few years later (1901) reference was also made to the condition in George Gould and Walter Pyle’s Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine. I managed to track down the original quote about a man:

“who, when prompted to indulge in sexual intercourse, was immediately prior to the act seized with a fit of sneezing. Even the thought of sexual pleasure with a female was sufficient to provoke this peculiar idiosyncrasy”.

More recently, and based an a paper submitted to the American Medical Association, Dr. Jeffrey Wald, a specialist is asthma and allergies, was quoted in the US newspaper Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (September 6, 1988) about the of case of an American middle aged man who continuously sneezed following sex. He attributed the sneezing to “vasomotor rhinitis”, a condition in which the nasal passages are chronically inflamed (and characterized by hyperactive or imbalanced control of the central nervous system responses).

Even more recently, I read an iteresting paper by Dr. Mahmood Bhutta (Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, UK) and Dr. Harold Maxwell (West Middlesex University Hospital, Middlesex, UK) entitled Sneezing induced by sexual ideation or orgasm” published in a 2008 issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Bhutta and Maxwell’s paper cited a case from 1972, a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association involving a 69-year-old man who suffered severe bouts of sneezing after orgasm or whenever he thought of sex.

In their paper, it was noted that both men and women were using online forums to seek out help or explanations for their experienced phenomenon. These people often felt embarrassed about bringing up the matter with the medical profession, and preferred to seek help and advice anonymously. They also reported on these online data and noted (i) three people who claimed they always sneezed after orgasm, and (ii) 17 people who reported that they sneezed immediately when they thought about sex. They speculated that the link between sex, orgasm and sneezing was most likely caused by a fault in the autonomic nervous system (i.e., the part of the nervous system that is involved with heart rate, blood flow and digestion). They argued that the nerves that control breathing, blood pressure, pupil construction, sneezing and digestion run close to each other in the brain stem. They speculated that light-sensitive sneezing and sex-related sneezing occurred when these signals became “muddled”. Dr. Bhutta told the BBC in an interview:

“[The relationship between orgasm and sneezing] certainly seems odd, but I think this reflex demonstrates evolutionary relics in the wiring of a part of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system. This is the part beyond our control, and which controls things like our heart rate and the amount of light let in by our pupils. Sometimes the signals in this system get crossed, and I think this may be why some people sneeze when they think about sex”.

Dr. Bhutta also told the BBC that embarrassment or social inhibition may have prevented others from admitting the problem to the medical or psychological community. Another potential explanation may relate the fact that – like genitalia – the nose also has vascular (erectile) tissue, which has the capacity to become engorged during sexual arousal, and triggering a sneeze. Others have noted the ejaculatory-like qualities of the sneeze, and 1980s television ‘sexpert’ Dr. Ruth (Westheimer) observed that “an orgasm is just a reflex, like a sneeze”.

On a related issue, there is also a condition that has been coined “honeymoon rhinitis” in which men and women experience nasal irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose during sex. Spanish medics led by Dr J. Monteseirin published a small article in a 2001 issue of the journal Allergy. They reported a study of 23 allergy sufferers (9 women and 14 men), all of whom had experienced sneezing, rhinorrhea, and nasal obstruction immediately after (but never before or during) sexual intercourse (lasting for approximately 5-15 minutes). The research team also got all 23 participants to climb two flights of stairs on three separate occasions to equate to the energy expenditure during sex but none of them suffered any rhinitis following the task. The exact mechanism by which sex initiates and/or facilitates honeymoon rhinitis is not known. However, the authors speculated that emotional excitement and anxiety may be the trigger factors for post-sex rhinitis rather than exercise.

For most people, sneezing is just a common every day biological act. However, for some, a sneeze appears to be much more and something sexual. If you think sneezing fetishism is rare, just type “sneeze fetish” into Google and see what you get. There are loads of dedicated websites on sexual and sensual aspects of sneezing.

Here is one snippet I came across from a male (Greg, from Arlington, Virginia, USA):

“A gentleman with whom I have a mutual interest in companionship told me that he becomes sexually aroused when an attractive man sneezes. He said it makes no difference whether the sneeze is authentic or simulated. (He has never asked me to “fake” one for him; I told you, he’s a gentleman. And no, as fate would have it, my allergies have remained in check during the times we’ve been together, so I’ve not had occasion to observe his reaction firsthand.) My friend tells me that other folks, gay and straight, have this fetish”

Despite the many sites, I know of only one academic paper on sneezing fetishes. This was published over 20 years ago by Dr. Michael King in a 1990 issue of the journal Sexual and Marital Therapy. Dr. King reported the case of a 26-year-old homosexual male who was sexually aroused by observing other people sneeze and who also had an obsessive fear of vomiting in public. He was treated for his fear of vomiting with desensitization techniques, resulting in a rapid improvement in the man’s vomit phobia. Treatment was also attempted for the sneeze fetish through the use of covert sensitization. However, it had little effect on the man’s fetishistic impulses. Following this, he was taught to use thought-stopping techniques to reduce his preoccupation with fetishistic sneezing. I also came across a first person female account in a 2001 issue of The Straight Dope:

“I do know that my first love of sneezing came from the Smurfs. I doubt anyone else ever looked twice at a little blue sneezing midget (aptly named Allergic Smurf). Then, there was that scene in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, the one where Alice is trapped inside White Rabbit’s house and has her nose tickled by smoke. I remember sitting entranced in front of the television set, watching that scene over and over and over again. As I grew older, I kept on watching out for sneezes on television shows. If I happened to see one, I would rush over to where the blank cassettes in our house lay and whip one out for the express purpose of taping the sneezes. [I married a man with] the most adorable stifled sneeze I’ve ever heard [and then divorced because] there was a hell of a lot more to making a relationship work than enjoying a great guy’s sneezing over the weekends”

After the break up of her marriage, this particular woman discovered a sneezing fetish site on the Internet, and fortuitously met a man with “photic sneeze reflex” (also known technically as ‘photoptarmosis’ but more colloquially called “sun sneezing” – comprising uncontrollable sneezing in response to numerous stimuli such as bright light). While sexual aspects associated with sneezing appear to be rare, there is more than anecdotal evidence suggesting that for a minority of people, this is not a subject to be sneezed at.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Bhutta, M. F. & Maxwell, H. (2008). Sneezing induced by sexual ideation or orgasm: An under-reported phenomenon. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101, 587-591.

Foxhall, K. (2010). The Myth of “Seven Sneezes Equals an Orgasm”. February 7. Located at: http://kelly-foxhall.suite101.com/the-myth-of-7-sneezes-equals-an-orgasm-a198861

Gould, G.M. & Pyle, W.L. (1901). Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine. London: W.B. Saunders.

King, M.B. (1990). Sneezing as a fetishistic stimulus. Sexual and Marital Therapy, 5, 69-72

Mackenzie, J. N. (1898). The physiological and pathological relations between the nose and sexual apparatus of man. Journal of Laryngology, Rhinology and Otology, 13, 109-123.

Monteseirin, J., Camacho, M.J., Bonilla, I., Sánchez-Hernández, C, Hernández, M. & Conde, J. (2001). Honeymoon rhinitis. Allergy, 56, 353-354.

Viagra falls: Is there a relationship between sex and nosebleeds?

In previous blogs I have covered a number of different topics relating to various human behaviours involving blood including haematophagia (the eating and/or drinking of blood products), haemolacria (the crying of blood), clinical vampirism as a sexual paraphilia, and menophilia (sexual arousal from women menstruating). Today’s blog adds to the list by taking a brief look at sex and nosebleeds (medically known as epistaxis).

There are many causes of nosebleeds. The two most common are nose picking and being exposed to dry air for long periods. Other reasons include having high blood pressure, having a cold or flu, allergic rhinitis (nose allergies), acute sinusitis, heavy alcohol use, being exposed to chemical irritants, being on certain medications (such as blood thinners and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), nose trauma, cocaine use, and haemophilia. Added to this, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of people claiming to get nosebleeds during vigorous sex.

However, an article in Culture Smash by Brian Ashcroft quoted an otolaryngologist, Dr. Kouichirou Kanaya (an ear, nose, and throat specialist) who was quoted as saying:

“The notion that sexual arousal causes the heart rate and blood pressure to rise is something that’s a well documented fact; however, in actuality, sexual arousal and bloody noses have no direct connection”

However, while researching this article I came across a number of medical papers showing that there is one area where nosebleeds have been related to sexual activity. More specifically, there have been a number of cases in the literature where men taking sildenafil (Viagra) and/or tadalafil (Cialis) have had nosebleeds during sex. For instance, Dr. L.A. Hicklin and colleagues reported two cases in a 2002 issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. These are reported verbatim below followed by a 2006 case by Dr. G. Pomara and colleagues in the International Journal of Impotence Research, and a 2005 case by Dr. H. Ismail and Dr. P.G. Harries in the journal Acta oto-laryngologica:

  • Case 1: “A man in his late 50s was admitted from the emergency department with heavy prolonged epistaxis…During the admission the patient volunteered that, in the hours before his first nose-bleed, he had been engaging in energetic sexual activity. To enhance his sexual performance he had taken 50 mg sildenafil. Over the subsequent few days he had had several short but heavy epistaxes, and on the day of admission bleeding had continued for 6 hours without stopping. With packing and bed rest the bleeding gradually settled and he was discharged after six days”.
  • Case 2: “A man in his early 70s was admitted from the emergency department after 5 hours of epistaxis. He had taken sildenafil to enhance his sexual performance in the morning before his epistaxis…This was his first nose-bleed requiring medical attention…[After] two days and he was discharged home with no further epistaxis”.
  • Case 3: “A 32-year-old male presented to our department for recurrent epistaxis during sexual intercourses…During the consultation, he volunteered that the trigger for the epistaxis appeared to have been misuse of phosphodiesterase (PDE)-5 inhibitors, Viagra and Cialis. This first report of epistaxis after PDE-5 inhibitors in a young patient underline the possibility that in the next years the number of similar cases might increase due to the diffusion of PDE-5 inhibitor misuse in recreational settings”.
  • Case 4: A 66-year-old male presented to our department with recurrent epistaxis. On examination it was not possible to identify the source of the bleeding, despite various measures…During a consultation the patient volunteered that the trigger for the epistaxis appeared to have been energetic sexual activity. To enhance his sexual performance he had taken Viagra; however, on stopping the Viagra and changing to the newer drug Cialis, the episodes of epistaxis continued. We document what we believe to be the first case of epistaxis caused by Cialis”.

So why would Viagra and Cialis cause nosebleeds? Given that these medications help engorge erectile tissue, the nose also contains erectile tissue and the authors of these case reports believe that nasal engorgement also took place and lead to the nosebleeds. The phenomenon may be under-reported because individuals that use Viagra to enhance their sex lives may be too embarrassed to discuss this with doctors if it relates to sexual dysfunction. (I also came across a case report in a 2009 issue of the Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences by Dr. R. Dixit and colleagues of a 38-year old man persistently coughing up of blood [haemoptysis] whenever he used Viagra during sex).

Another interesting angle on sexual nosebleeds comes from Japanese cartoon animation (and more specifically Manga comics). In an online article entitled ‘Nosebleeds: Manga just wouldn’t be the same without them’, the author argues that Manga cartoons contain a number of specific tropes (i.e., a significant or recurrent theme). These tropes (amongst others) included nosebleeds, sweat drops, snot bubbles, and popping veins. Sexual nosebleeds were the number one trope in the article. The article noted that:

“A nosebleed, in the wonderful world of manga, equates to sexual arousal. I saw this trope for the first time in Dragonball, when Bulma lifts her dress and the lecherous Master Roshi spurts blood from his nose. Although Bulma was commando at the time, nosebleeds can be triggered by seeing something as mild as a pair of panties. In the case of the boy in the following image, it seems his bloody nose was triggered more by a fetish for swimsuits rather than the girl wearing them: Clearly, horn dogs don’t spontaneously get nosebleeds in real life. So why is it so in manga? I think it’s generally accepted that a rush of blood to the head and the resulting nosebleed is a visual metaphor for blood rushing to, er, somewhere else – which probably explains why I’ve only ever seen guys get nosebleeds, although I could be wrong about that”.

I’ve never watched a full Manga cartoon in my life but from everything I’ve read, male nosebleeds are common cliché in anime cartoons and are known as ‘hanaji’. According to the online Urban Dictionary, hanaji is “when you see a boy get a nosebleed in anime, [and] usually means his blood pressure has suddenly severely increased from seeing a really cute girl”. In an article by Brian Ashcroft for Culture Smash, he also noted the nosebleed trope in Manga cartoons:

A character, male or female, gets excited—often sexually excited. Blood dribbles, or squirts, out of the character’s nose. The notion that arousal or excitement induces bloody noses…isn’t just part of anime or manga iconography. It’s also become an old wives’ tale of sorts…The trope is very much a Japanese one, appearing throughout the country’s popular culture and with various nuances in anime and manga. It is not a new trope and has existed for years…Manga artist Yasuji Tanioka is believed to be the first one to introduce the motif with his early 1970s manga Yasuji no Mettameta Gaki Dou Kouza. Other manga artists liked the expression and began replicating it in their own work”.

In relation to the nosebleed trope in anime cartoons, Dr. Kouichirou Kanaya (the ear, nose, and throat specialist quoted above) speculated that:

“Bloody noses are probably used to show in a powerful way just how excessively large the change induced by sexual arousal is. It’s a climax, and in manga, it often seems to be code for ejaculation”.

There are also anecdotal cases of nosebleed fetishes (called epistaxiophilia). However, the love of nosebleeds appears to have been created by using the name of nosebleed phobia (epistaxiophobia) and changing the suffix ‘phobia’ for ‘philia’. To my knowledge, there has never been an academic paper or clinical case study published on epistaxiophilia. However, I did come across a number of online confessions of individuals that admitted (if they are true) that they were sexually aroused by nosebleeds. Here are some extracts that I found in various online forums:

  • Extract 1: “Was just reading a thread on r/Askmen about men who get nosebleeds during sex. My brain processed SEX and NOSEBLEEDS and I immediately imagined myself riding a guy home when he suddenly got a nose bleed. I was strangely turned on by that idea. I don’t think I’d be comfortable sharing this newly discovered turn on with any of my friends because I feel like it’s so damn weird” (Female, Reddit, AskWomen forum)
  • Extract 2: “Nosebleed fetish? Does anyone have it? I normally don’t like blood but I find nosebleeds really hot. I wouldn’t ever hurt my loved one, but I have to admit that I’m quite aggressive towards normal people because of it” (Inwealorwoe [Male], Yahoo! Answers)
  • Extract 3: “I’ll completely understand and I won’t take offense if you run from this post flailing and gagging…For the longest time, I’ve had a nosebleed Maybe that links to the fact that I’ve also got haematophilia and a vampire fetish. But you know what I really like? When someone sneezes while they have a nosebleed” (Proclaimer, Female, 21 years old)
  • Extract 4: “I think it’s incredibly sexy when a guy has a nosebleed. Sneezing while having a nosebleed. I would agree that nosebleeds are probably a turn-on for me because of the whole vulnerability/loss of control factor. Same as with sneezing and colds and things like that” (Helter Skelter, female, 19 years old)
  • Extract 5: “I actually do have a blood/vampire fetish. I often find myself getting very thirsty as well as aroused when watching vampires feed in movies. However I don’t really find nosebleeds all that appealing. I’m not disgusted by it or anything, but it just wouldn’t really do anything for me. I guess it’s just not the type of bleeding that I’m attracted to. I can see how it might be appealing to others though” (Shayla, female 31 years)

Obviously I cannot vouch for the veracity of these claims but I have no reason to doubt them (and the final extract liked other blood fetishes but not a nosebleed fetish). There is no detail in any of these extracts to speculate as to why anyone develops a fetish to nosebleeds. However I’ll leave you with a reply to the person in Extract 2 above:

“[Nose bleed fetishes] makes sense. A sexual therapist said that our sexual fantasies are derived from non-sexual things in our life. So your fetish for nosebleeds could actually stem from something non-sexual in your life. For example, it probably turns you on because it makes you feel empowered and aggressive, since if the person you are with has a nosebleed it means you must have been rough with them. So I would say that your fetish is probably normal, because many people are turned on by feeling empowered and aggressive. Sounds normal to me” (The Way It Is, Yahoo! Answers)”.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Ashcroft, B. (2012). Sexual arousal doesn’t cause bloody noses, says medical science! Culture Smash, October 19. Located at: http://kotaku.com/5953124/sexual-arousal-doesnt-cause-bloody-noses-says-medical-science

Dixit, R., Jakhmola, P., Sharma, S., Arya, M., & Parmej, A. R. (2009). Recurrent haemoptysis following sildenafil administration. Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences, 15, 119-120.

Hicklin, L.A., Ryan, C., Wong, D.K.K., & Hinton, A.E. (2002). Nose-bleeds after sildenafil (Viagra). Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 95(8), 402-403.

Ismail, H., & Harries, P. G. (2005). Recurrent epistaxis after treatment with tadalafil (Cialis). Acta oto-laryngologica, 125(3), 334-335.

Pomara, G., Morelli, G., Menchini-Fabris, F., Dinelli, N., Campo, G., LiGuori, G., & Selli, C. (2006). Epistaxis after PDE-5 inhibitors misuse. International Journal of Impotence Research, 18(2), 213-214.

Belch rare bit: A very brief look at burping fetishes

Over the last couple of years I’ve covered some pretty idiosyncratic fetishes in my blog. Today’s topic is up there with the strangest (and perhaps one of the least commonplace) – burping fetishism. My assertion that it is one of the least commonplace comes from the fact there is (perhaps unsurprisingly) absolutely nothing in the academic or clinical literature on burping fetishism. Furthermore, I was only able locate one online forum that appeared to be solely dedicated to the sexual side of burping – check out the Burp Fetish Forums website. (I ought to also mention that on YouTube there are dedicated collections of people burping on camera. Although these collected clips may be sexually arousing to a burp fetishist, I guess most people who watch them do so because they find them amusing).

However, it was while I was writing a previous blog on sneeze fetishes (in itself a strange and rare fetish) that I came across a few people also admitting that they were also sexually aroused by the thought and/or sight of someone burping and belching. (I’m not sure if there is really any difference between burping and belching although from what I’ve read in a fetishistic sense is that belching appears to be very loud burping whereas burping does not necessarily have to be loud).

Anecdotally, the ‘loudness’ aspect appears to be an important element to burp fetishists. In this sense, it is the noise made rather than the action itself that appears to be what is sexualized and/or interpreted by the fetishist as sexually pleasurable and arousing. In sexual behaviour more generally, hearing quite clearly influences sexual arousal and response. However, this is typically in the form of music that facilitates peoples’ mood in readiness for sex, and/or the sounds that people make while engaging in sexual activity (e.g., ‘talking dirty’ and/or moaning and groaning while making love). One 2002 book chapter I read on sexual response (in a book on human sexuality by Dr. Tina Miracle, Dr. Andrew Miracle and Roy Baumeister) reported some interesting studies on the role of sound in sexual arousal. More specifically it reported that:

“In one study, male college students were shown 60-second erotic videos both with and without the accompanying audio. There was a significant positive correlation between male sexual arousal and sound, as measured by penile plethysmograph and self-report (Gaither & Plaud, 1997). Another study found that a male partner’s silence during lovemaking inhibited the female partner’s sexual response (DeMartino, 1990). However, silence might be preferable to some other sounds, such as your partner burping during an embrace or the ringing of the phone. Many people find the sound of the words ‘I love you’ to be the most arousing of all”.

Interestingly, this extract makes a point of noting that burping during sex would be one of the worst sounds to hear in a sexual situation. However, judging by the extracts I collated below, this is not the case with everyone. I managed to find a small but sizable number of online admissions relating to burp fetishes. Obviously I cannot guarantee the veracity of the content but in the context of the pages that I found them on, they appear to be genuine and heartfelt:

  • Extract 1: “I’m a girl and I have a major fetish for guys that can burp loud. [I don’t know why] but I enjoy it a lot. It’s so sexy. I can also burp really loud so I wish I could find a guy with it so it’s mutual, but no luck so far. I can burp pretty good, and I also have a fetish for burping girls. The girl has to be attractive (not super ultra hot, but that would be nice), and I find it extremely erotic if they can out belch me. I don’t know why I was born with this ‘kink’, or why others are born with it”
  • Extract 2: “I for one love it when I hear a girl burp. In particular, I suppose it has to be a girl who I find attractive in the first place. If I don’t find her attractive then it’s only just as impressive as hearing another male burp. Don’t give up. Your burpin’ lovin’ man is out there somewhere. Fortunately, our mating call is loud and clear so you will eventually find him smiling back at you when you let one roar someday”.
  • Extract 3: Ever since I [can] remember, I’ve been turned on by other women burping! I cant go a day without watching a burping / farting / stuffing video”.
  • Extract 4: I’m a new guy here with some of what I would consider to be general turn ons (muscles, worship, lifting, etc.), but it’s my fetish for burping that I’m curious about. First off, I was wondering if there were other people in this forum who shared a similar fetish for belching and hearing other guys burp…I know in my case, the feeling of air trapped in the stomach tends to feed into another fetish of mine, inflation…YouTube provides a good library of belching guy videos, and I found one other site that deals with the fetish aspect (which I can’t list yet because of the post count limit), but the focus there is primarily for the heterosexual, burping girl enthusiast crowd”.
  • Extract 5: “Has anyone ever successfully gotten a boyfriend/girlfriend that can do/has features of their fetish? I would have no idea how to find a guy who can burp. It’s not something that usually comes up at the first date. But this goes for any fetish. Is it too much to ask to have a boyfriend to fulfill your fetish, and if not, how would you go about dropping the bomb to your boyfriend [or] girlfriend?”
  • Extract 6: “I really get turned on when I hear a men belch or burp. It’s burly and just wrong on so many levels, but it’s real and I love the thought of how much a person can consume to make them do that…Isn’t that so weird?”

There are also various online forums where burp fetishes are discussed (such as the Amber Cutie website). Although these online admissions surrounding the sexiness of burping are short, (if true) they lead to some immediate conclusions. Firstly, the online confessions came from both men and women. Secondly, the online confessions were made both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Thirdly, there appear to be psychological and/or behavioural overlaps with other sexual fetishes including inflation fetishes, feederism (i.e., stuffing) fetishes, and farting fetishes. All of these are arguably connected with the consumption of foodstuffs so perhaps the overlaps are not that surprising. The only other fetishes that I have come across where there is some overlap is sneeze fetishists that also have a burp fetish, and paraphilic infantilism (i.e., adult babies) where being burped by mother/matron figures is sometimes sexually arousing. However, all of these identified overlaps are anecdotal and not based on any scientific or clinical research.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Miracle, T.S., Miracle, A. & Baumeister, R. (2002). Human Sexuality: Meeting Your Basic Needs. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall/Pearson.

Plaud, J.L., Gaither, G.A., Hegstad, H.J., Rowan, L., & Devitt, M.K. (1999). Volunteer bias in human psychophysiological sexual arousal research: To whom do our research results apply? Journal of Sex Research, 36, 171-179.

Sheathing troubles: The strange case of accidental condom inhalation

While researching a previous blog on condom snorting, I came across an interesting case study of ‘accidental condom inhalation’ (and no, I promise I am not making this up). The case dates back to 2004 and was published by Dr. C.L. Arya and colleagues in the Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences (IJCDAS).

Anyone who has kids will know that (just out of curiosity) they commonly put things in their mouths. The IJCDAS paper made reference to a number of medical studies that have shown inhaled items include things that can be from the edible (nuts, seeds, beans, etc) to the non-edible (plastic objects, screws, needles, pins, etc). They also note that when inhaling such objects, it doesn’t always lead to immediate medical symptoms or complications (such as choking, wheezing, coughing, etc.). However, the case that Dr. Arya and colleagues reported on was a little out of the ordinary.

The case involved a 27-year-old woman who was a schoolteacher. For a six-month period she had been suffering from a persistent cough where she was coughing up mucus along with some pneumonia symptoms. Initial examination showed nothing of consequence. Further tests took place and the paper reported that:

“The chest radiographs carried out subsequently showed development of a non-homogeneous right upper lobe lesion, not resolving either with antibiotics or a four-month trial of an empirical anti-tuberculosis treatment instituted by various practitioners. No symptomatic relief was obtained with either therapy. [A later] chest radiograph demonstrated a right upper lobe collapse-consolidation of lung. The opacity led us to promptly carry out a video-bronchoscopy, which gave impression of a white membranous object protruding from the collapsed right upper lobe bronchus. On probing further, it was noticed to be an inverted bag-like structure ‘sitting’ in the bronchus and having a flap-like action. A rigid bronchoscopy was then performed and the object was easily removed with biopsy forceps, though, it tore into pieces during procedure”.

As you will have noted from the title of this blog, the pieces were identified as being from a condom. The woman and her husband eventually recalled to the medics (after much probing by the medics) that there was an incident that occurred where a condom had become loosened while the wife was performing oral sex on her husband. During this particular sexual act, the woman had experienced a bout of coughing and sneezing and without her knowing she had accidentally inhaled her husband’s condom.

One of the reasons that the accidental inhalation went unnoticed for so long was because the inhaled object was of “soft, elastic and rubbery consistency that [was] unlikely to cause a direct lung injury”. The authors noted that:

“The airway obstruction of the right upper lobe segments produced by [the condom], could have resulted in the retention of secretions and the infection of corresponding lung segments, which may have become radiologically visible as a non-homogeneous right upper lobe collapse-consolidation. Despite mechanical obstruction, the flap-like action of condom (as noticeable on video-bronchoscopy) probably continued to clear secretions from right upper lobe, contributing to the delay in radiologic presentation of case”.

The medics were unsure whether the woman had genuinely accidentally swallowed the condom or whether she was just too embarrassed to report the incident and/or didn’t relate the incident to her subsequent symptoms. The authors also claimed that the original physicians who examined the woman were responsible for the condition being prolonged as they had failed to suspect that a foreign object (i.e., a condom) was the cause of the non-resolved pneumonia. They then noted that:

“Perhaps, views of physicians were guided by the age of patient (that was less suited for a suspicion of an inhaled foreign body), and also the fact, that a disease like tuberculosis was so highly prevalent in this part of world that a preference for the institution of [anti-tuberculosis treatment] was quite natural”.

Together, all of these reasons are likely to have resulted in a delayed diagnosis. The authors also noted that:

“Even following the condom retrieval [both husband and wife] were understandably hesitant in disclosing it owing to the nature of affair concerned (involving one’s privacy), the unusual nature of coitus performed (via an oral route) and the inhalation of a discrete object (like condom). The possibility of seminal aspiration also taking place simultaneously may not be ruled out…The case has certain atypical features, of which, the foremost relates to the type of inhaled object, i.e., a condom, which has not been reported in the literature to the best of our knowledge…[Another] atypical feature was adult-age of patient, that by any means, would be least expected to be associated with any foreign body inhalation”.

The authors speculated as to whether this incident was a one-off or whether such incidents were more widespread and were being under-reported because the Indian sub-continent has “a traditional conservative culture” where “people tend to have religious attitudes and sex is largely considered to be a subject limited to a person’s private life”. The authors concluded that:

“Perhaps, the young lady in our case was also quite apprehensive about fellatio, a fact that could have played a part in the condom inhalation. It is much desirable that sex taboos prevalent on the sub-continent are curbed and greater sexual awareness created in the people’s minds”.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK 

Further reading

Agarwal, R.K., Banerjee, G., Shembish, N., & Jamal, B.A., Kareemullah, C. & Swaleh, A. (1988). Foreign bodies in the tracheobronchial tree: A review of 102 cases in Benghazi, Libya. Annals of Tropical Paediatrics, 8, 213-16.

Arya, C.L., Gupta, R. & Arora, V.K. (2004). Accidental condom inhalation. Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences, 46, 55-58.

Ben-Dov, I. & Aelony, Y. (1989). Foreign body aspiration in the adult: An occult cause of chronic pulmonary symptoms. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 65, 299-301.

Causey, A.L., Talton, D.S., Miller, R.C., Warren, E.T. (1997). Aspirated safety pin requiring thoracotomy: Report of a case and review. Pediatric Emergency Care, 13, 397-400.

Lyons, D.J., McClod, D., Prichard, J., Dowd, D., & Clancy L. (1993). Very long retention of bronchial foreign bodies: Two new cases and a review of the literature. Irish Medical Journal, 86, 74-75.

Murthy, P.S., Ingle, V.S., George, E., Ramakrishna S. & Shah, F.A. (2001). Sharp foreign bodies in the tracheobronchial tree. American Journal of Otolaryngology, 22, 154-56.

Come again? A brief look at semen fetishes

Recently, I was sent an email by one of my regular blog readers saying that there were “two obvious” topics” that I had not covered in my writings so far. The first one was paedophilia (which I have mentioned in passing but have never devotes a whole article to) and the second one was on semen fetish. I’m not going to go into my reasons why I have yet to devote a blog to the topic of paedophilia but the topic of ‘semen fetish’ was honestly not something that had crossed my mind. The email I was sent pointed out that my blog had covered paraphilias and fetishes concerning almost every other bodily fluid (i.e., urine, faeces, blood, menstrual bloodsaliva, tears, breast milk, snot, phlegmvomit, pus and earwax) “apart from the most obvious – namely semen”. Therefore, today’s blog looks ‘semen fetish’ although I know of no academic research or clinical studies on the topic (so not a lot of material to work with).

There is a lot of talk on the internet about almost mythical status that semen has been afforded. This is typified by a story I came across while researching this blog. In April 2010, the BBC reported the case of an Israeli man – Nissim Aharon – who was jailed for 10 years after tricking five women of various ages into various sexual acts (including rape and sodomy) by claiming that his semen was “holy and had healing powers”. Aharon pretended to be a holy rabbi and other authority figures (such as working for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency) and claimed to the unsuspecting women that his “holiness” could be passed to those who touched him physically, cleansing their bodies. He was eventually arrested in August 2009. A statement by the Israeli Justice Ministry reported that:

“Over many years [Aharon] presented himself as a righteous man, as a saint with healing powers, who exploited the naïvity of women and teenage girls, while carrying out appalling sexual acts and obtaining large sums of money by fraud. He would claim to be a rabbi, and impersonate figures in authority who would then refer women and teenage girls to himself. He would give these people different explanations: among others, that a holy scent comes from him, and that his semen is a holy fluid, which by contact could heal body and soul”.

Another seemingly relevant topic that I found online in relation to semen fetish was talk on various sexual forums about the love of ‘bukkake’ and ‘gokkun’ in pornographic films. I’m aware that some of you reading this will be well aware of these semen-related sexual acts but for the benefit of those who have no idea what I am talking about, I feel duty bound to tell you (but please be warned that my descriptions are sexually explicit).

Bukkake is a sexual act (most commonly seen in hard core pornographic films) where a group of men all simultaneously ejaculate over a women or man. Original bukkake videos are Japanese in origin and date back to the advent of videos in the 1980s. However, bukkake videos (while still arguably a minority market) have been made for both European and American audiences (with an increasing number of such films made for the gay market). The Wikipedia entry on bukkake claims that the sexual act involves “the implied or overt humiliation of the person ejaculated upon” because typically the receiving person is a passive recipient and not sexually stimulated. Some commentators have pointed out that the recipients in Japanese films tend to be much more passive and submissive than the recipients in American films. Feminist campaigner Gail Dines says the act of bukkake “marks the woman as used goods”, conveys a sense of ownership and is “one of the most degrading acts in porn”. Other reactions to bukkake were summarized in the Wikipedia entry:

“A number of authors have described bukkake as premised on humiliation. Forensic psychologist Karen Fanklin has described bukkake as symbolic group rape, characterising its primary purpose as the humiliation, degradation and objectification of women. Lisa Jean Moore and Juliana Weissbein view the use of ejaculation in bukkake as part of a humiliation ritual, noting that it generally does not involve any of the female participants experiencing orgasm”.

Gokkun is also a sexual act that is Japanese in origin and is where a man or woman consumes the semen of one or more men from a drinking receptacle (e.g., cups, glasses, beakers, etc.). The Wikipedia entry on gokkun claims that as the makers of hard-core pornography attempt to outdo each other, the number of men participating in gokkun videos has increased to as many as 140 in American films and 200 on Japanese films.

While there is much written about bukkake, references to semen fetish appear to be rare. The following extract from a self-confessed semen fetishist is one of a few that I have come across online. I chose the following quote because of the level of reflective introspection at the end of the quote. (Again, I also need to point out that the quote is sexually explicit):

 “I have come to terms with the fact that I have a semen fetish. This manifests itself in many ways. Obviously, it is important in my sex life. My current girlfriend is quite open-minded, so she doesn’t have a problem with facials and swallowing. She is also open to some semen play, for example drinking it from a spoon or a wine glass. I have dozens of other semen-related fantasies which I want to try out too…Another manifestation of this fetish is my taste in porn. It’s almost exclusively semen-related movies that I watch because they are the biggest turn on for me. I mostly watch bukkake, gokkun and regular facial movies…I know that I’ll probably be heckled as being gay or whatever, but I don’t mind. The fact is that guys don’t turn me on, but girls do. Perhaps the fact that I like to see girls covered in sperm is more to do with my own desire for women to accept my own semen. I’ve thought that through a lot and it seems likely. Humans tend to associate the face with the identity. And I think on some level, men associate their semen with their personal manhood and identity. To have a girl let you shoot semen onto her face is a symbolic act of acceptance of your identity. There is almost certainly a domination aspect to the act too”

One online article on semen entitled ‘A Modern Craving’ talked about “semen addiction”, “semen fetish” and those “obsessed” with semen. The article claimed it was written to raise issue and bring to the floor the concept of semen addiction”. Without any apparent empirical support the article claimed that:

“In order to relate with semen addiction, it’s important to understand the mentality of those obsessed. Semen addiction is not the pleasure of having your lover swallow your semen following oral sex, nor is it simple pleasure from pornography involving it. Instead, it is a very real sexual necessity for semen, be it digestion, foreplay or a combination of both. Why those who crave semen do so is widely a mystery. The taste, while enjoyable for some, seems not so important as the act, the eroticism, involved in swallowing semen from a man’s sexual organ. In addition, semen fetishes are not by any means limited to a single gender. While it’s debatable of which group is more outspoken of their semen obsession, it’s not such with reference to the fact they can develop in anyone; from homosexual males to heterosexual females to even heterosexual males, to a lesser extent. The insatiable desire for semen is often so unrelated to ordinary sexual addiction that while it’s possible for someone with the condition to enjoy sex without semen, the true climax of the experience can often be better represented as the reception of semen from one’s lover than as the orgasm of his or herself”

As I noted above, there is almost no empirical research on semen fetish, and the “evidence” I have collated in this blog is (at best) anecdotal. The fetish may well exist, but compared to other bodily fluid fetishes, semen fetish appears to be either much more rare or just much less reported both online and in academic journals. Finally, by my reckoning, the only bodily fluids I have left to write about are sweat, bile, and vaginal secretions.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

BBC News (2010). Israel jails man for ‘holy semen’ sex abuse. April 26. Located at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8644637.stm

Kuro5hin (2002). A modern craving. August 5. Located at: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/8/5/71044/01543

Wikipedia (2012). Bukkake. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bukkake

Wikipedia (2012). Gokkun. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gokkun

Speaking a phlegmish language: A brief look at cough fetishism

While I was doing some research for a blog on sex and sneezing, I came across quite a few online confessions from people on sneeze fetish sites who also claimed they had a coughing fetish. As far as I am aware, there is no scientific name for coughing fetishes or paraphilias and it does not appear in either Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices or Anil Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. However, it does make an appearance in the Social Kink’s online sex dictionary (aka the ‘kinktionary’). It says that:

“Coughing fetish involves the arousal of a male or female when they hear or see someone cough. The sometimes-quick sound of a slight hack is also thoroughly enjoyed. Some people like to see phlegm coughed up in the process. This may be intertwined with a slight bodily fluid fetish as well. Coughing is sometimes done when the deepthroating of a penis is involved, as the body tries to gag, but it comes out as a cough”

Coughing fetishes also make a brief appearance in the online Chemistry Daily encyclopedia:

“Coughing fetishism is a sexual fetish in which people like to watch other people coughing. It is often related to the smoking fetish. Some people fascinated with coughing require a certain sound or effect, such as a smoker’s cough, a dry cough, a wet, productive cough, etc. For some, it’s more important to hear a cough than to watch it”.

Finally, I came across a posting on the Is It Normal?’ website. In one of the answers to a question on bizarre fetishes and paraphilias, one of the respondents posted the verbatim text of an unattributed lecture that he had attended. I have tried (and failed) to track down the original source but the information given in the rest of the verbatim report is authoritative and scientific so I have no reason to doubt that the unnamed author believes what they are saying about coughing fetishes (although I have to add that it’s almost all speculation). The brief overview also includes hiccupping fetishes – presumably because ‘hiccups’ are a derivation of ‘hiccoughs’ and therefore – technically – a type of coughing:

“A coughing fetish involves finding women who cough as something fascinating, appealing and sexy. Enthusiasts often don’t know why they find this appealing and report it’s an interest since early childhood. Perhaps it’s the sound, the facial expression, the way of moving the body, the way the chest expands, or the way the hand covers the mouth. A hiccupping fetish among males usually involves a preference for seeing big breasted or pregnant women hiccupping. For females, it’s usually seeing male celebrities or authority figures with the hiccups.  For both, the turn-on is that it’s uncontrollable and publicly embarrassing. It’s rare to see sex while hiccupping, so the practice is usually confined to fantasy or a precursor to sex with both parties regressing to a childlike state of kidding, ridiculing, and tickling each other”.

In an article on sexual fetishes in The Wave magazine, Sandy Brundage included a brief section on coughing fetishes (“Coughing Your Way to Love”). He interviewed Nabucco Zach, a self-confessed cough and smoking fetishist. Zach was asked about why he found coughing such a sexual turn on and he replied:

“My own theory is that it has something to do with my aunt who died of lung cancer when I was four. There was a lot of talking about her lungs around me, and I probably understood that something serious was happening to her because of her lungs, so to speak. So, I think it’s a sort of fear that the coughing or smoking woman would pass away, that the brain handles by turning the fear into a sexual activity. Just a theory, and maybe a psychologist would laugh”.

Well, as a psychologist I’m not laughing, and Zach has obviously tried to attribute the motivation to something rooted deep in his childhood, but ultimately, this is yet more speculation as to the cause of coughing fetishes. This quote also provides more anecdotal evidence that – for some people – there is an overlap with smoking fetishism. Zach also added that:

“The cough fascination is something that turns me on, sexually – it’s a part of my sexual life and sex is not the first thing I start talking about when meeting a person. I’m not sure if I would ever reveal it”.

It wasn’t until Zach came across on online fetish discussion forum that he realized he wasn’t the only person who was sexually aroused by coughing, and where participants in the discussion group traded “secrets, stories and recordings of coughs”. Zach was also surprised that there were women on the online forum who had coughing fetishes because he viewed sexual fetishes as mainly male dominated.

After reading Brundage’s article, I went online and specifically started looking for coughing fetish forums. I have to admit that I didn’t find any dedicated coughing fetish discussion sites although I came across lots of fetish sites where the issue was raised as well as anecdotes from people about the sexual side of coughing on sneeze fetish forums. (I also came across sites that feature nothing but coughing videos aimed at people with coughing fetishes such as the one at Zomobo.net:

Here are five of the confessions I came across:

  • Extract 1: “I know this is a little weird, but does anyone have a thing for coughing? I know lots of people find it gross or irritating, but I love it. I think it’s so hot. And it’s almost always an indication the person’s sick which can lead to sneezing *melts* I probably should have made myself more clear I don’t like just any old coughing. I would only enjoy it if it were by a person (mainly male) that I’m attracted to, from a cold only (not smokers cough, or asthma or anything like that), and dry coughs. No phlegm whatsover”.
  • Extract 2: “You’re definitely not alone! For me, coughing is just as good as – if not better – than sneezing…I’m not entirely sure why this is, but, like you said, maybe it’s the way it’s kind of a blaring indication that the person is sick?”
  • Extract 3: “I actually found my way to this forum by searching for coughing-related things. I’ve got a general fetish for colds, illness and allergies, but I really do love a good coughing fit”.
  • Extract 4: “I have a coughing fetish too! It’s always been secondary to the sneezing fetish, but it’s definitely right up there…I’ve been looking for some coughing discussion forums like this one for a while, but none seem to exist…In my clip store I’ve got quite a few coughing clips too, as well as sneezing ones”.
  • Extract 5: “While I wouldn’t have fantasies about being coughed on, as I have with being sneezed on, I really, really like coughing as well. As long as it’s not from smoking or the extreme lung cancer, pretty much any cough is okay with me too. I naturally prefer when it’s from a cold or flu, but I can also appreciate other coughing. Like from tuberculosis, injury or even from choking on something. To me, it’s always a sign that the person coughing is somehow weakened for the moment. And that is sexy. Also, I should add, this applies mostly to men…I don’t mind a little mess in coughing either. I like the sound a little phlegm can do very much, but dry is more than fine too”.

All of these quotes are interesting and suggest coughing fetishes can and do exist. They also show that there appears to be some overlap between coughing and sneezing fetishes, and that there are slight differences in what kind of coughs are sexually arousing. They also demonstrate that there are idiosyncratic differences even among a fetish type that I think is very rare. The theme of being sexually aroused because someone is all also seems to be important for some cough fetishists. Maybe illness is associated with vulnerability that to some people may equate with some psychological equivalent of submissiveness (which brings to mind both sexually sadistic and masochistic undertones – but this, admittedly, is pure speculation on my part). Until any research is carried out on this tiny minority, we may never know what the roots, causes and motivations of cough fetishism.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Brundage, S. (2002). Fetish Confessions: Telling loved ones about your fetish is as easy as solving fractured quadratic equations. The Wave Magazine, July 31. Located at: http://web.archive.org/web/20071110095616/http://thewavemagazine.com/pagegen.php?pagename=article&articleid=22026

Smoking Sweeties (2010). Women with coughing fetish. Located at: http://smokingsweeties.2forum.biz/t298-women-with-coughing-fetish

Social Kink (undated). Coughing fetish. Located at: (http://www.socialkink.com/kinktionary/index.php/Coughing_Fetish

Wikipedia (2012). Smoking fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coughing_fetish

Google surf: What does the search for sex online say about someone?

I recently read a transcript of a radio interview where Shankar Vedantam (the Science Correspondent of US National Public Radio) was talking about how analyzing Google searches could tell us things of national importance about what is happening before they reached the relevant public authorities. He gave a lovely example:

“A year or so ago, the folks at Google realized that as the flu was spreading from state to state, people’s search terms were changing. So people would search for things like ‘What do I do if I have a sore throat?’ or ‘What do I do if my child is running a high temperature?’. And by tracking these searches, Google discovered, long before public health authorities discovered, how the flu was spreading from state to state”.

Such observations tend to suggest that what people use online search engines for and what they type into them can be a useful indicant of human behaviour. But is the same true for sexual behaviour? A recent report in the Indian Times revealed that the people of Pakistan had the most searches for ‘sex’ on Google in 2011 (followed by India in second place) using Google Trends software. More interestingly, in an article by Alan Dunn for Business Insider (Top Google Searches – What do People Search for?) reported that:

The keywords sex, porn, free porn and porno pretty much blow any other keywords out of the water. The amount of exact match volume for these 4 terms alone is 22,820,000 searches a month. Individually they are ‘porn’ (11,100,000), free porn’ (7,480,000), sex’ (2,740,000), [and] porno’ (1,500,000). Sex is obviously not bad. It’s more popular than ever”.

Last year, Dr. Ogi Ogas and Dr. Sai Gaddam published their book A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What The Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships. Their book was an academic study of what people worldwide looked for sexually when they went online. As the title of their book suggests, they analysed millions of anonymous Web searches, pornographic websites, erotic videos, etc. The authors used the Dogpile search engine to analyse data from the major search engines (e.g., Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). Ogas and Gaddam’s book provided us with what the New York Post (NYP) claimed was “the most complete survey yet of our collective sexual id”. Maureen Callahan (who wrote the piece for the NYP) noted that there were many surprising findings. For instance:

“Straight men enjoy a wider variety of erotica than imagined, including sites devoted to elderly women and transsexuals. Foot fetishes aren’t a deviance; men are evolutionarily wired to look for small feet, which are a sign of high estrogen production, which itself is a sign of fertility. Gay men and straight men have nearly identical brains, and their favorite body parts, in order of preference, line up exactly: chests, buttocks, feet. Straight men prefer heavy women to thin ones. Straight women enjoy reading about and watching romances between two men – it’s not about the sex, which is downplayed, but the emotion, which is the focus. (The largest audience for ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ says the book, was straight women.) Straight men have a fascination with other men’s penises, which may be conscious or unconscious”.

In an interview with the NYP, Dr. Ogas said that “sex therapists haven’t known which interests are common and which are rare. We probably now know more than ever before.” He and Gaddam ranked the most popular terms types into the world’s leading search engines and compiled a ‘Top 10 sex terms list. The leading search terms related to sex were: youth (13.5%), gay (4.7%), MILFs (4.3%), breasts (4%), cheating wives (3.4%), vaginas (2.8%), penises (2.4%), amateurs (approx. 1%), mature (approx. 1%), and animation (1%). The data was analysed in great detail. The NYP article by Callahan reported that based on Ogas and Gaddam’s study:

Men fantasize about group sex far more than women and picture more men than women in the action. Straight men prefer to watch amateur porn online, and the authors theorize it’s because of perceived authenticity – a fake orgasm, it turns out, may be as disappointing as one in real life. One of the most popular and diverse areas of interest in sexuality is domination and submission, with straight women and gay men most interested in the latter role. Gay men enjoy straight porn in large numbers….Straight males enjoy a wide variety of erotica, including sites featuring transsexuals and elderly women. The study also found that both gay and straight men favor chests, buttocks and feet (in that order)”.

US academic Professor Donald Symons, one of the world’s leading evolutionary psychologists, was quick to point out some of the book’s flaws and did not seem to be persuaded that what people searched for online necessarily was directly related to what people found sexually desirable. For example, does the fact that someone watches ‘granny porn’ or transsexual sex indicate that they find it sexually alluring? Symons argues they may just be viewing such material out of curiosity. Symons was quoted as saying:

“One of the first things I asked Ogi about was curiosity versus arousal. Ogi is convinced that when people are searching for things, it’s primarily for sexual arousal. I’m not so sure about that. If there was a porn star with three breasts — I bet there would be a zillion hits. Would that be a sign men were suddenly aroused by that? I think not…If it had been the case that women were just like men, but society had been repressing women and once they’re online, they seek the exact mirror-image of porn – that could’ve happened. But it didn’t…The research shows that men, as evolutionary science has long held, are stimulated visually, while women require a host of stimuli – context, emotion, verbal expression…What would be really shocking would be fetish sites devoted to acne suffers, or people with no teeth – signifiers of poor health and high reproductive risk. I don’t necessarily think that all men are searching for women with clear skin, one head and two breasts. But when you’re doing a search, you’re usually looking for things that are uncommon”.

This is why Symons thinks there is lots of online searching for transsexual pornography. I also agree with Symons that the data that Ogas and Gaddam collected wasn’t based on a representative sample of online users (only those who typed in sexual words to search engines), and no-one knows what motivated the search. If anyone checked out my online surfing habits, there is no way anyone could infer what I liked sexually because almost all of what I type into search engines is for research purposes. Given the amount of coverage I devote to paraphilic behaviour in my blog, it’s not surprising that the sites I look at say little about my own sexual desires and sexuality.One of the arguments that Ogas and Gaddam have put forward is their assertion that sexual deviance is to all intents and purposes a myth. In his NYP interview, Ogas claimed:

“People who are attracted to mirrors, or to beards, or get turned on by ants in their pants – these are cases that, until now, have been diagnosed by clinicians who’ve seen patients. The Internet gives us a far better sense – rough, but still – of what is a likely anomaly and what is a far more common predilection. We discovered things even Kinsey didn’t know. Foot fetishes, for example, are common across all cultures. The discovery may lead to a re-classification; perhaps someday, the male interest in feet will be considered as normal an interest as breast size or facial attractiveness”.

Ogas is adamant that people who look at unusual sexual behaviour online are attracted to it. In response to Professor Symons’ view that most of the unusual viewing online may be curiosity-based, Ogas (again in his NYP interview) believes that his research:

“Proves that men who look at elderly women are actually turned on by elderly women. There are forums where men talk about picking up grannies, the kinds that they like. We studied AOL search histories over a period of months – if someone’s just curious, they’re not going to spend money for a subscription to a site, or search for something over and over again”.

I thought I’d end today’s blog with a little local analysis of my own. As my regular readers will aware, my own blog has its fair share of articles on sexual behaviour, and I always take an interest in what people are searching for to click onto my blog. Well here is a little insight for you. On October 15 (2012), I looked at all the search terms that people had used to locate my blog (which on that day I had a total number of page hits of around 115,000). I excluded all searches where people had typed in my name or ‘Mark Griffiths’ Blog’. Here are the top search terms that managed at least 50 hits:

My initial observations are that most people that stumble upon my blog are people interested in paraphilias (as the highest non-paraphilic term was ‘nose picking’ at 14, and 34 of the top 40 search terms are paraphilia-based). It certainly looks as though ‘sex sells’ even at a local level like my blog.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Callahan, M. (2012). You’re not as kinky as you think: Massive Internet study finds that we’re all sexual deviants, New York Post, January 22: Located at: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/books/you_re_not_as_kinky_as_you_think_PLXiPzN4aUnTjKK1asmWMK/0

Dunn, A. (2011). Top Google Searches – What do People Search for? Business Insider, December 21. Located at: http://www.businessinsider.com/top-google-searches-what-do-people-search-for-2011-12

Griffiths, M.D. (2012). Internet sex addiction: A review of empirical research. Addiction Research and Theory, 20, 111-124.

Griffiths, M.D. (2012). The use of online methodologies in studying paraphilia: A review. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, in press.

Indian Times (2011). Pak tops Google search for sex, December 30. Located at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-12-30/internet/30572457_1_google-trends-fox-news-report-searches

Ogas, O. & Gaddam, S. (2011). A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What The Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships. Syracuse, NY: E.P. Dutton & Co Inc.

Smith, C. (2011). Top 10 Internet Search Terms About Sex: Study (Update). Huffington Post, April 26. Located at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/26/sex-study-internet-search-terms_n_854034.html

Werheimer, L. & Vedantam, S. (2012). Google searches are a window into our culture. Located at: http://www.npr.org/2012/01/02/144572891/google-searches-are-a-window-into-our-culture

Nose no bounds: A beginner’s guide to nasophilia

Many people are sexually attracted to particular parts of the human body but these usually relate to those body parts that are traditionally sexualized (e.g., genitalia, buttocks, breasts, etc.). When individuals have a sexual interest and/or sexually aroused by very specific and exclusive body parts it is known as partialism. It may additionally be described as a fetish if sexual arousal is only possible when the particular body part is present (e.g., viewed, touched) during sexual behaviour.

One of the more unusual forms of partialism is nose fetishism (or known as nasophilia if it is in the form of a sexual paraphilia). Nasophiles can be sexually aroused by the sight, touch, and/or the erotic sucking of human noses. Less common (although I have not seen any empirical evidence to back this up) are those who are sexually aroused by having their nose stroked, felt and sucked. Some nasophiles claim they are sexually excited by placing their nose into the closed eyes of their sexual partner (and may therefore have overlaps with oculophilia). In very extreme cases, it has even been claimed that some nasophiles are sexually aroused by the picking of noses.

Sigmund Freud famously interpreted the nose as a penis substitute. Although I personally have little time for Freud’s theories, the nose – like genitalia – has vascular (erectile) tissue, which has the capacity to become engorged during sexual arousal. There are certainly explicit links between sex and the nose in the scientific literature that I wrote about at length in a previous blog when I examined sex and sneezing (and the relationship between sneezing and orgasm) and sneeze fetishism. Maybe I have an unhealthy professional interest in noses as I also wrote a blog on nose picking and snot eating.

Nasophiles typically experience sexual attraction to very specific physical nose variations based on shape, size, nostril shape, etc. It is claimed that most nasophiles are extremely against rhinoplasty (plastic surgery on the nose) because it removes many of the features that they find sexually desirable Although there is little empirical research, it is believed behaviour can manifest itself in a desire for actual physical and sexualized contact and interaction with the nose of the person, and/or specific fantasies such as wanting to sexually penetrate the nostrils. In an article published on the Nose Network website it was noted that:

“Although most Nasophiliacs are men, there are some women out there who do enjoy the sight of big nostrils, well shaped wings, cute button noses or anything else that tickles their fancy. Most people will not admit to this fetish, however, due to it not being very acceptable to society. This is really due to a lack of understanding about the whole thing. No one knows exactly where this fetish came from or why it even exists. Some people will admit that they have fantasies about penetrating the nostrils (mostly men), while others have admitted to wanting to suck and lick the nose. As it turns out, the nose is a very erogenous zone, if for no other reason having the knowledge that the partner is very turned on by this act”. 

Nasophiles may also be sexually aroused by fantasies involving transformation the nose (i.e., a transformation fetish). These can also be varied such as the nose changing into the nose of another species as a form of sexual humiliation (e.g., the snout of a pig), or the nose growing in size very quickly. Such sexual fantasies can be facilitated via role-playing, the use of props, transformational fiction (e.g., Pinocchio-type stories), and/or animated or photo-shop transformation (e.g., modifying and morphing photographs). For instance, check out the ‘Big Nose Appreciation’ website that is “devoted to women who do not conform to the stereotypical ideal offeminine beauty and whose beauty is enhanced by their larger or uniquely shaped noses”. Alternatively, type ‘nasophilia’ into YouTube and see for yourself the kinds of things that nasophiles love (nostril faring seems to be a much liked activity).

In a previous blog on fetishism, I mentioned a study led by Dr G. Scorolli (University of Bologna, Italy) on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data. Their results showed that body part fetishes were most common (33%), followed by objects associated with the body (30%). Feet (and objects associated with feet) were by far the most common fetishes. They also reported that some of the sites featured references to nose fetishes but that this particular fetish accounted for less than 1% of all fetishes

As with many other fetishes and paraphilias, treatment for nasophilia is generally not sought by the individual unless it becomes problematic for the individual in some way and/or they feel compelled to address their condition. It is thought that the vast majority of nasophiles happily accept their fetish.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Bhutta, M. F. & Maxwell, H. (2008). Sneezing induced by sexual ideation or orgasm: An under-reported phenomenon. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101, 587-591.

King, M.B. (1990). Sneezing as a fetishistic stimulus. Sexual and Marital Therapy, 5, 69-72.

Love, B. (1992). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books

Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S. & Jannini, E.A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19, 432-437.