6 Of Your Most Cringeworthy Questions, Answered By Science
We asked for the science questions you didn’t want your name attached to, and now we’re answering them. This time: shrinkage, fishy vaginas, cannibalism, and more!
“Why does a penis shrink in cold weather?”
If you have a penis and have ever gone swimming in cold water, you may have noticed that your penis looks similar to the head of a frightened turtle (apologies to Jerry Seinfeld). This is a real thing with some real scientific explanations.
When we are talking about the actual shaft itself, the main explanation is all about blood flow. According to Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, a urologist, clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School, and author of Why Men Fake It: The Totally Unexpected Truth About Men and Sex, cold causes a narrowing of the blood vessels (aka vasoconstriction), “so the spongy erectile chambers called the corpora cavernosa become less filled with blood, making them smaller.”
A second and related phenomenon happens to the balls. A dude’s noble scrotum plays a role in both holding your balls and keeping them at the right temperature. Ideal sperm production occurs at temperatures a bit colder than your body temperature, so it’s important that your boys are kept away from your body heat.
“Although the penis essentially functions as a big blood vessel, the same is not true for the scrotum,” Morgentaler told BuzzFeed Science. “Rather, its size is determined largely by muscular contraction or relaxation. When it is warm, the scrotum expands, allowing the testicles to hang further away from the body, which is a heat source. When it’s cold, the scrotum contracts, bringing them closer to the heat source.”
atid86 / Via youtube.com
“Why do vaginas smell fishy?”
The vaginia is a gloriously complex microenvironment that houses numerous species of friendly and sometimes not so friendly bacteria. The most common bacteria found down there is called Lactobacilli, and it’s super helpful. It provides the acidic environment needed to kill off unwelcome microbes and keep a vagina healthy.
But environmental conditions sometimes change, and with those changes the whole equilibrium of that fragile ecosystem can shift. The most common example of this is bacterial vaginosis, which occurs when a series of bacterial communities that thrive in low-oxygen environments become more populous than usual. These anaerobic bacteria produce a generally unwelcome “fishy” odor caused by a chemical called trimethylamine.
It is important to note that many other things can also cause fishy odors including trichomoniasis, poor hygiene, and a forgotten tampon.
“What do humans taste like?”
According to convicted murderer and cannibal Armin Meiwes, “The flesh tastes like pork, a little bit more bitter, stronger.” He also added that “It tastes quite good.” Other alleged cannibals have come to different conclusions, describing the meat as veal-like and sweet.
Scientific studies into this question are, understandably and thankfully, pretty much nonexistent. That being said, there is at least one plausible explanation for why human meat might taste a bit like pig meat: Their diet is quite similar to that of a human.