How To Instantly Guess Someone’s Age

As we age, certain things happen to our primary senses. By testing this ability, you can instantly guess just how old someone is! I won’t say too much more than that, because the video explains it beautifully…

Video Source: “How Can You Instantly Guess Someone’s Age?” Uploaded by Science Channel to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFDQDbXGYlk

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Today’s Sciencey LOL

Scientific explanation for what happens when you choke…

funny science jokes

15 Awesome Human Superpowers

Some people work hard, train hard, educate themselves and push themselves to the very limit to gain some kind of notoriety in life (and the money it tends comes hand-in-hand with). This video is proof that, in addition to being inherently gifted, there are other ways to become famous… be exceptionally stupid. Eating metal screws makes you an idiot. Just because you survive your diet of cars, wheelchairs and bad life choices doesn’t make you special.

Having said that, there are some incredible cases of human superpowers in this video, such as the “human calculator” and the man who learned conversational Icelandic in just one week. My only superpower is being able to make my one eye squint – actually I have two if you count the other one, but that’s far too lascivious to mention here – and so my concluding question to you is: what’s your superpower?

Video Source: “15 Real Life Human Superpowers” Uploaded by Planet Dolan to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=dM3_s0rKBVc

Virus Apocalypse: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Sneezes 

Ebola Virus outbreak 2

There is little else on this Earth quite as chilling as hearing that there has been an outbreak of the Ebola virus. It brings crashing to mind all of those terrifying movies depicting a world ravaged by a fierce virus for which there is no vaccination, no cure and a meagre chance of survival. Almost two years ago, however, the horror of Hollywood imagination made its real life debut in a handful of countries in West Africa and this appearance by one of the world’s worst viruses known to man has left the local population shattered and terrified.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), we faced the worst outbreak in recorded history and the death toll increased daily. With this shocking realisation in mind come many questions: what is the Ebola virus? How at risk is the rest of the world to contracting this pathogen and what actually happens to the body once it’s infected? Let’s take a look at the microscopic douche bag that effortlessly, in as little as a few short weeks, showed up mankind for our frailty.

Now Might Be the Time to Cancel that Trip to West Africa 

west-africa-Ebola outbreak distribution-map

Source: World Health Organisation (WHO), Ebola Response Roadmap, February 11th 2015

If you have impending travel plans for Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea and Liberia, now might be the time to reconsider. Your journey of a lifetime might just become your last. At the last count (December 27th 2015) WHO reported that 28,637 people had been officially diagnosed with the Ebola virus in these countries, with 11,315 having succumbed to it.

A 40% death rate might not seem like the apocalyptic scenario you’d associate with an end-of-the-world type virus… that is, until you put yourself in the worn sandals of some poor West African soul. Imagine your doctor telling you that your chance of surviving your illness is 60%! I’d give up all vestiges of civilized behaviour and kill myself with red wine and tequila before that miserable virus could have a chance to get hold of my internal organs. If you think 40% is bad, however, consider the fact that the death rate of the Zaire Ebolavirus has been as high as 90% in the past:

  • 71% in 2007: 187 people dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 90% in 2003: 128 people dead in Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 75% in 2001-2002: 44 people dead in Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 88% in 1976: 280 people dead in Democratic Republic of Congo

I don’t care how democratic it is, I’m SO removing Congo from my travel plans!

So, while it might sound completely ridiculous to say, the people in the affected areas are at least a little lucky in some glass-half-full kind of way. I do understand this is hard to appreciate when you are bleeding out your bum.

This brings us to the profile of a pathogen so nasty and malicious, it would have had a glittering career in Hitler’s SS.

Profile of a Serial Killer

Ebola virus under microscope

The Ebola virus belongs to a nasty, sadistic family of pathogens called the Flioviridae that essentially cause the body to haemorrhage uncontrollably – that is, to bleed internally and externally and all-aroundernally. There are five different species of Ebola virus, because for some God-forsaken reason one isn’t enough. They are:

  1. Zaire Ebolavirus (EBOV)
  2. Sudan Ebolavirus (SUDV)
  3. Bundibugyo Ebolavirus (BDBV)
  4. Reston Ebolavirus (RESTV)
  5. Taï Forest Ebolavirus (TAFV)

Historically, the three problematic strains of this virus have been the Bundibugyo, the Sudan and the Zaire ebolavirus, the latter of which has been wreaking havoc in West Africa since February 2014. The other two species are, interestingly enough, not typically associated with large outbreaks. In fact, RESTV in particular hasn’t been known to kill anyone ever. Amateur.

A Little Aside: The Ebola virus was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was here in 1976 that the first recorded outbreak occurred.

How Is Ebola Transmitted?

Ebola virus outbreak

You catch Ebola by somehow ingesting the bodily fluids of an infected person. This, given the virus’ tendency to cause flu-like symptoms, uncontrollable diarrhoea and vomiting, is mighty difficult to avoid, especially if you are living in close proximity to the sick person. And this is precisely why the virus tends to spread so quickly amongst family members and to the medical physicians who are trying to treat these patients. Given the lack of proper, sterile medical infrastructure in these poor West African countries and the strange burial ceremonies honoured there (involving kissing and touching the corpses of loved ones passed), this virus is having an utter field day.

Thankfully, in the midst of all the carnage, there’s the fact that the Ebola virus isn’t airborne. That means you can’t get it from breathing in the same air as someone who is infected, so you don’t need to fear the zombie apocalypse the next time some stranger sneezes. Just keep your mouth close and wash your hands regularly.

Symptoms and Signs Your Wife Might Be Cashing In Your life Insurance Policy Soon

Ebola Virus outbreak 4

Once infected, it could take you as little as a few days or as long as three weeks to start showing symptoms. You’ll feel like crap and probably think you have some kind of flu with symptoms that include achy muscles, a monster headache, fever and a sore throat. Meanwhile beneath the surface of your skin all hell is breaking loose…

Ebola takes up residence inside your body’s cells where it begins its merry task of replicating. Once one has become two, they erupt out of their host cell, completely destroying it in the process. This tiny asshole then starts secreting a kind of protein known as “ebolavirus glycoprotein,” which coats the interior walls of your blood vessels, disintegrating them and leaving them more leaky than a submarine with air vents.

Ebola also impedes your blood’s ability to clot, so you essentially become haemophilic… unable to stop bleeding. One sneeze can initially cause your nose to erupt in a crimson plume of infection, while an accidental bump could leave you looking like you escaped a marriage with Mike Tyson. Eventually, if you survive the fever, dehydration, rashes and swelling long enough to experience the next merry phase of the illness, your blood will start to seep out of your blood vessels in a whole-body internal and external haemorrhage. That’s right. You’ll have blood seeping out of your eyes, nose, gums, ears and other unmentionable bodily orifices.

The next few stops on the Ebola train include disseminated intravascular coagulation, shock and then death.

It’s utterly terrifying.

Where Are Your White Blood Cells When You Need Them?

White blood cells

The reason the Ebola virus has such a high death rate is because it is as keen a master of offence as it is of defence. It actually prevents the white blood cells from “hearing” your body’s natural defence alarm. So while the virus completely destroys your body, your white blood cells – the little guys responsible for protecting your body – are just hanging out, playing cards, drinking beer and hitting on platelets. But wait, it gets worse (or more hilarious depending on how morbid your sense of humour is): the Ebola virus remains so undetected by your immune system that it will actually hitch a ride on your white blood cells to other parts of the body. This explains its rapid spread to all of the body’s major organs and systems.

Sweet Jesus, tell me there’s something modern medicine can do to treat it!

Unfortunately, no. There is no cure and no vaccine for the Ebola virus. In fact, scientists are only now beginning to understand how it works, spreads and wreaks so much havoc on the body. I can imagine that the response from lab technicians willing to volunteer to do the necessary research on live virus specimens must be underwhelming.

I know I’d bunk work that day.

Homer Simpson Woohoo!

The only thing doctors can do for Ebola virus patients is keep them comfortable, hydrated and clean. It’s up to your body to do the rest, which is why it’s the strong who typically survive this virus.

Where Did the Ebola Virus COME From?

There is a very important field of specialty dedicated to understanding the origin and spread of harmful pathogens and it’s called “epidemiology.” By pinpointing the origin of a particular virus, we can understand HOW it spreads and therefore how to minimize this spread. It is also possible to infer from the point of origin the necessary clues to develop a treatment or vaccine.

In the case of the Ebola virus, the origin is believed to be fruit bats of the family Pteropodidae and genera Myonycteris torquata, Epomops franqueti and Hypsignathus monstrosus. What causes such devastation to us humans bumbles around quite harmlessly within the living tissues of these rodent aviators. The actual transmission of the virus occurs when someone gets the bright idea to have a bat barbecue or sandwich.

Unfortunately, bats are quite popular on the menu in West Africa.

Cute fruit bat

How could you eat that face?

The Ebola virus has also been documented in monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees and even certain antelope. The problem here is that uneducated people from the villages in these remote areas have no idea of the danger they put themselves in when they come across a dead animal in the forest. They don’t see the harm in prodding it, eating it, or bringing it home with them for whatever reason. They have no idea that swimming around within the coagulating vessels of this deceased creature is a deadly virus that could lay complete waste to their village in a matter of weeks.

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

Ebola Virus outbreak 3

When diagnosing the Ebola virus, doctors are instructed to first rule out a host of other potentially fatal illnesses, including the PLAGUE. You know a sickness is really bad when it could be confused with the plague, for crying out loud! And bad the Ebola virus is. To date and at the time of writing, more than 28,000 people are estimated to have been infected in the outbreak in West Africa.

The take-home message of this particular blog on the Ebola virus could pertain to any lethal virus, I suppose. While there are things we can do to help patients fight off infection and emerge victorious (with one hell of a story to tell the grandchildren), we have to be fully cognisant of the irony that something so small – something invisible – could utterly destroy one of the most successful species on the planet. All we can do is hope that a virus similar in action to the Ebola, but deadlier and more uncontrollable in its spread never, ever makes it out of the dark recesses of our planet.

So, kids, wash your hands before you eat and no matter how tempted you are to try new things, never order bat off the menu.

Hasta la Vista Hangover!

Beautiful blonde in a bar

It’s happened to the best of us. You wake up in a room you don’t recognize, next to a person you don’t recognize, wearing pink floral shorts you DEFINITELY don’t recognize. Your head feels like it has an iron cannonball rolling around in it, thumping against the delicate pink tissue that lines the inside of your skull. And it tastes like a large animal – a carnivorous animal – relieved itself inside your mouth at some stage while you were asleep. If your tongue didn’t belong to you, you would spit it out.

Oh alcohol! Such a bitter-sweet, love-hate relationship we have with this hydrocarbon.

Booze gives you the gumption to chat up all the pretty birds in the bar. It makes you feel indestructible, sexy and powerful. It gives you the energy to dance for hours, with the occasional push-up set right there in the middle of the club. It sharpens your conversational skills, sense of humour, wit (pre-tequila) and confidence. Alcohol is awesome!

So then why did you wake up next to Jabba the Hutt? What is that massive red welt down the side of your face? WHY IS THAT DAMN ANT MAKING SO MUCH NOISE?! And why do you have to refer to the bottle of pills next to Jabba the Hutt’s bed to remember her name?

Lithium? What kind of name is that, anyway?

Prevent a hangover

Hangovers are NO fun. So, what can science tell us about them? Is there a way that we can enjoy our booze without the morning after banging headache, breath that could melt cement, crippling nausea, stiff joints and signed marriage papers to your cousin?

Yes! Sort of…

“I’ll Just Have One Glass and then Head Home”

two drunk friends with a bottle

Not even the prospect of the Harvard bar exam has prevented law students from uttering these famous last words. So you can be forgiven for your weakness. What we all would like to know is what you can do to prevent the hangover you KNOW you’re going to have tomorrow. Well, the best way would be to abstain from alcohol altogether.

Hahahahahaha!! Relax, I’m just kidding!

The best way to prevent a hangover is to understand what alcohol does to your body and to then mitigate this damage as best as you possibly can. Let’s examine the anatomy of a hangover, starting with this very scientific question… why does alcohol make you feel so sh*t?

The Morning After the Night Before

young drunk woman with curlers crying next to a bottle of wine

It Dehydrates

Alcohol blocks the production of anti-diuretic hormones in your kidneys. A diuretic is something that makes you want to pee. This – in addition to that entire keg of beer you just drank – is why you can’t stop going to the loo. This causes your body to dehydrate and dehydration is the root of all hangover evil. It makes you feel lethargic and gives you a banging headache.

It Skull-bashes

Alcohol expands the blood vessels in your head, while dehydration causes your brain tissue to shrink and pull away from the sides of the skull. This makes you feel like you stopped an earth-bound asteroid with your noggin.

It Irritates

Then there’s the effect alcohol has on your digestive system. Your stomach can quite easily manage a few cocktails or beers. But ten Kamikazes later, you’ll be going Kamikaze out the open window of your friend’s car. Alcohol irritates your stomach lining. To top it off, most alcoholic beverages are acidic, which combines with your own stomach acid to produce a seriously potent brew. That’s when the little gremlins in your belly hit the ‘emergency eject’ button.

It Lowers Blood Sugar

Alcohol screws around with your body’s glucose levels. Glucose is blood sugar, which is the energy your body needs to move and grows. This is why you so desperately hope you win that game of rock-scissors-paper against your flatmate so that HE is the one who has to walk to McDonalds for emergency hangover breakfast.

Pot Smoker with the Munchies

That’s what alcohol does to your body on a regular day in the office. Now… how can we STOP it?

Your Essential Hangover Kit

Every dedicated drinker should own a hangover kit. You qualify as ‘dedicated’ if you’ve done one or more of the following:

  1. Taken pictures of people you couldn’t remember meeting.
  2. Taken your shirt off in the middle of a crowded bar.
  3. Made out with your best guy friend. And you’re a dude.
  4. Had a good boo because that song the DJ played was just so beautiful!
  5. Woken up next to someone whose name you couldn’t remember.
  6. Woken up and couldn’t remember your own name.
  7. Pledged that you’re going to stop drinking for a month
  8. Reconsidered # 7 and pledged that you’re going to stop drinking for a week.
  9. Ended up congratulating yourself on not drinking for TWO WHOLE DAYS.
  10. Didn’t go to rehab when they tried to make you to. Noooo, noooo, NO!

Now that we’ve established your status, your hangover kit should consist of:

Water: A good two litre bottle of mineral water will help you rehydrate.

Electrolytes: It’s not good enough to drown your body in water. You will need to replenish all the essential minerals, salts and other goodies your body loses every time you go to the loo, which, when you’re hanging like a bat, is a lot. Stock your hangover kit with a few sachets of electrolytes and/or some sports energy drinks.

Vitamin B (or Thiamine) tablets: Trust me on this one. I have performed repeated controlled scientific experiments involving alcohol and Vitamin B. Take a tablet before you start drinking and then another one in the morning. Vitamin B helps your body to metabolize alcohol, expands your blood vessels (preventing headaches) and restores your energy levels. In other words, it’s your best friend.

Opioid painkillers or aspirinIf you can’t readily get your hands on some morphine and the caterpillar in your garden is all out of “that good shit”, then take an aspirin. It’s a big hangover no-no to take acetaminophen or paracetamol. The combination of this common subset of painkillers and alcohol is a cocktail that can do extensive liver damage. If you’re only finding this out now, don’t worry. Me too, buddy. Me too.

Catepillar Alice in Wonderland

Feed the Hangover! You won’t want to eat, but you must. Food is your divine saviour and one of the most effective ways to combat a hangover. It replaces all the goodness you spent relentlessly banging out of yourself the night before. If you’re feeling too nauseous to tolerate food, take an anti-emetic (anti-nausea) pill like Valoid or Motilium. Ginger is a natural anti-nausea remedy if you’re not keen on polluting your body with chemicals, which is an idiot way to think: where was that philosophy last night when you were hammering back the Jagermeister?

Get Up and Get Moving! You’re going to hate this one, but it’s true. There have been times I’ve been forced to get up in the moist grips of a crippling hangover and go out, usually to try find my scooter and retrieve it (God, I miss Thailand). Or to play tour guide to a visiting friend who’s too excited to see Table Mountain to nurse their hangover. Once I’ve gotten moving, however, I actually don’t feel that bad! Exercise elevates your metabolic rate and this helps your body to process alcohol and all the crap that comes in those huge cocktails you drink quicker. The injection of oxygen into your body also puts you on the fast(er) track to feeling better.

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

Two drunk girls making out

Scientific diagram illustrating the awesomeness of alcohol

Alcohol is an excellent social lubricant (although Durex has a pretty decent line too). But your body pretty much sees it as a poison, so you have to be careful. If you drink booze like a camel, you’re going to end up in the hospital ER, or immortalized on YouTube doing something really stupid and really embarrassing.

By understanding how alcohol affects your body’s organs and functions, we can see with greater clarity what we need to do to offset the symptoms of a hangover, or at least to alleviate their severity. Put together a hangover kit and nurse your body back to good health. You will not feel 100% – you don’t deserve to – but you may be able to scrape together a sufficient number of brain cells to write your exam without blowing chunks over the back of the student in front of you; which, when you’re really hung over, is good enough!

I’ll drink to that!

President Barack Obama enjoying beer

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Copyright © Thea Beckman 2015

The Science Of Farts: Yes, It’s a Thing

Plate of baked beansImage Credit: BBC Food Blog: What’s Wrong With Cheap Food?

Prelude to the Rude

It has not so subtly been suggested to me by my friends on several occasions that I write a blog about farts and the science behind it all. My friends’ penchant for toilet humor is just one of the many reasons I love them dearly and so, today, with my return to the blogosphere, I plan to finally render reality from drunken suggestion.

Farts are always funny, sometimes embarrassing and rarely appreciated in confined spaces with poor ventilation. So, why do we fart? What accounts for their embarrassing odor? Why do some announce their exit with great brass band fanfare, while others sneak out the back door quieter than a grounded teenager?

Let’s explore the answer to some of mankind’s greatest questions about our own butts.

 “Sweet Lord, Why…?”


Arielle the little mermaid

… asked the countless women who have woken themselves from a deep slumber with the embarrassing realization that they have accidentally revealed to their bedfellow their most preciously guarded secret:

That they are indeed human.

Why must your butt sabotage your attempts to appear beautiful, perfect and divine in the presence of your lover? Goddesses don’t fart!

The good news is EVERYONE farts. Girls fart. We know for a fact that boys fart. All humans fart and animals do, too. It is a perfectly normal biological process that is caused by the generation of gases in your belly, which need to go somewhere or else you’d blow up like a balloon and die. As morose as that sounds, it’s utterly true.

What’s in a Fart?

Boobie bird lifting foot

Image Credit: http://www.wildlifeadventures.com

First of all, “flatus” is the more polite and sterile term, so henceforth we shall be referring to wanton winds as such, since that is what flatus literally means in Latin: “a breaking or blowing of wind.” Flatus is composed of all kinds of interesting things, the precise chemistry of which varies from person to person and from hour to hour, depending on a gruesome suite of factors.

We ingest quite a bit of air when we eat, so that’s one source of flatus. Then there’s the fact that everyone’s bowel is host to legions of bacteria, which help to break down the foods we eat. One of the by-products produced by this intestinal flora is gas and this accumulates in our gut until it gets expelled. This particular source of flatus is quite a bit more “tropical” in bouquet than that caused by the ingestion of air (for obvious reasons).

Now, the chemical composition of this wind depends on the individual’s very unique biochemistry and whether or not their bowels are healthy. Diet and your body’s tolerance for the foods you eat play another major role in the chemistry of your flatus: certain foods may produce a more corpulent sulphurous bouquet, while others might make your pants smell like a horse stable after a long, dank winter.

What all flatus has in common is that 99% of its volume is composed of the following constituents:

  • 20 to 90% Nitrogen
  • 0 to 50% Hydrogen
  • 10 to 30% Carbon dioxide
  • 0 to 10% Oxygen, and
  • 0 to 10% Methane

Given this chemical composition, we can explain one commonly observed fact and another commonly joked-about reality concerning the very future of life on Earth:

  1. Hydrogen and methane are highly flammable gases, which is why you can light your farts on fire. But, did you know that only some people have the specific types of bacteria necessary to produce methane? You will find examples of these humans on YouTube publicly wrecking their sex appeal.
  2. Carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases, which means they have the tendency to absorb solar radiation, thereby contributing to the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. Given their fibrous diets, cows and other livestock fart (and burp) a LOT and this has been postulated to contribute to climate change. The threat of impending doom has never had a funnier back-story.

Fart Bouquet

funny fart picture

So, now we know that flatus is mostly caused by ingesting air and by bacterial fermentation in our guts. The next question humankind has asked of itself since the very first hominid got kicked out the cave by dropping a vile dart is: why do some farts stink?

Since the main constituents mentioned above (hydrogen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, etc.) don’t smell of anything on their own, the hot, moist odor of flatus is really determined by trace gasses and chemicals that only make up 1% of the flatus’ volume! And these are produced by bacterial fermentation and digestion in the gastrointestinal tract. It’s through these processes that your body is able to conjure up some pretty exotic chemicals that can taint your flatus, thereby enabling you to torture your poor girlfriend with an age old tradition called a “Dutch Oven.”

funny fart poster

Some of the chemicals that contribute to the malodor of flatus include indole and skatole, which are produced through the digestion of meat. This explains why carnivorous animals produce such insidious flatus, while the posterior emissions of cows, hippies other herbivores are far more tolerable (in theory).

Volatile sulfurous compounds, such as methanethiol, dimethyl sulfide and hydrogen sulfide, are produced by intestinal bacteria as waste products and they also play a major role in the bouquet of your flatus. The latter of these three accounts for that “rotten egg” smell.

Finally – and for this one you may want to put down that sandwich you’re eating – poop. Yes, poop. If you have a bullet in the chamber, or so to speak, your flatus may exit your body amidst a cloud of poop molecules, causing everyone nearby to flee from the room amidst a fanfare of disgusted wrist-flapping.

Orchestral Score

brass band funny fart

The final question we ask in this heroic endeavor to understand the one bodily function that has the rare ability to make everyone laugh, regardless of age, gender and creed, is this: why are some farts noisy?

This has everything to do with the physics of a flatus’ escape from your derriere and not its composition. Since there is no way I can bring myself to answer this question in an inoffensive way, I’ll leave you with a quote from the Beach Boys:

“Good, good, GOOD, good vibrations!”

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

Nicki Minaj anaconda

If you ever felt embarrassed by the odd fart, just imagine the eternally crippling life struggles faced by a flatologist. Yes, the study of farts “flatology” is an official field. I mean, how on God’s sweet Earth do you explain to new acquaintances, dates and (if you even get that far) in-laws what you do for a living?

We can’t help it: farts are funny and even though I consider my sense of humor to be fairly evolved, my not-so inner child will always laugh out loud at them. For instance, I’ve spent the majority of my time writing this blog in utter hysterics. Having said this, farts are also interesting and a fairly accurate indicator of our diet and intestinal health. So remember, to fart is human and to forgive the guy who just did it in an elevator, divine. Not that I’d know anything about it in practice…

I’m a lady and everyone knows ladies don’t fart.

 

 

There Is No “Men” In Menses

It IS Your Fault

crying-man

What do werewolves and your girlfriend have in common?

Every 28 days, they mutate into a towering, hirsute, slobbering, howling tyrants of canine rage. Werewolves devour flesh, blood and bone. Your girlfriend devours your ego and sense of self-worth. That’s right. Your beautiful petite girlfriend… The very same creature that kisses you so tenderly, coos over you when you’re sick, tolerates your flatulence, laughs at your stupid jokes and makes you feel like a hybrid of He-Man and MacGyver. That one.

There is no rhyme or reason to it. Fluctuating hormones are a monumental ball-ache, MORE so to us poor damsels than to you dudes. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can stop caring that your girlfriend turns into the Hulk once a month.

What the Hell’s Going on Anyway? 

tampons and pads

80% of the world’s population should know what menstruation is and why it happens. We’ll forgive children younger than 12 years old, population groups that inhabit far-flung regions of the globe and male Mormons who don’t really need to learn about these things. When one wife breaks down, he’s got four more on standby.

You may understand that menstruation is a cycle of egg production that permits us lady folk to reproduce. But what connection does that share with the nuclear fallout that happens in your household once a month?

Hormones. Those bastards.

Meet the Hormones

Angry woman

Throughout a woman’s approximate 28-day cycle, three hormones perform a ballet of intricate pirouettes, arabesques and fouetté jeté…

Estrogen is the main female sex hormone and interestingly enough is translated from the Greek word oistrus, which figuratively means “sexual desire” and literally “gadfly”. Don’t ask me why. My interest in etymology has its limits. The suffix –gen means “to produce”, so estrogen is a producer of sexual passion. Estrogen has a complex variety of influences on our moods. Some of the predominant effects include the increased release of serotonin, your brain’s “happy” juice. It also influences the production of endorphins, which is what makes you feel awesome when you eat chocolate, exercise or bonk someone attractive. Estrogen can even encourage nerve growth and protect existing ones from damage. So, estrogen is good. In moderation.

Progesterone is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland, the ovaries and, if you’ve got a bun in the oven, in the placenta. This hormone’s job is to prepare the lining of the uterus – the endometrium – to become the warm, squishy and nurturing home for an egg and subsequent foetus in the ensuing nine months. Progesterone also serves to balance out some of the less desirable effects estrogen can have on the body, which includes an increased risk of developing uterine and breast cancer.

Testosterone, although known as a male hormone, is produced in small amounts by women’s bodies and its variability is too thought to play a role in turning your girlfriend into a slavering monster once a month. This hormone controls sexual desire and aggression. It’s what makes men drop onto all fours in the middle of a packed dance floor and do push-ups and it brings out the voracious sexual appetite in all the genders.

Couple-on-bed

As yet, there is little scientific understanding as to whether or not women who become nuns are physically deficient in these hormones, hence their life’s dedication to being frigid. This research is pending and I greatly encourage any biologist out there to commence controlled experiments immediately. Some ideas might include substituting a nun’s annual flu vaccination with hormone replacement therapy and then locking her in a cheap motel room with Channing Tatum.

Considering some of the dubious Sapphic legends doing the rounds, you may want to repeat these trials using Olivia Wilde.

Battle of the Sex Hormones: A Play-by-Play

Day one of menses and your girlfriend wakes up with a multiple homicide between her legs. At this glorious time of the month, the levels of testosterone and estrogen in our sweet supple bodies are at their lowest. They then begin a slow and steady climb, which makes us feel sexier and better about life in general, in spite of the carnage going on in our wombs. So, asking a grumpy woman whether she’s “on her period” is as inaccurate as it is sure to get your eyes gouged out with a serving spoon. And it would SERVE you right *snort*. There’s a reason it’s called PRE-Menstrual Syndrome. When we are menstruating, we’re actually pretty nice. It’s what happens in the week before that has you sleeping on the couch.

During week two of our cycle, estrogen and testosterone continue their bold journey upwards, making us happy, excellent conversationalists, adventurous and dynamite lovers. Just like tequila. A spike in estrogen then boots an egg out of our ovaries and that’s when the trouble begins…

Subsequent to ovulation, estrogen and testosterone take a cliff dive and our levels of progesterone rise to peak during what is referred to as the “luteal phase”. If the egg is not fertilized by your boyfriend, husband or one-night stand, your body prepares to rid itself of potential mini-you and the production of this hormone joins estrogen and testosterone off that cliff like a lemming. Progesterone makes you hungry, sleepy and forgetful; it makes you want to settle down, nest, get married and feel safe. It can even cause you to slur your speech like a drunkard.

very-hot-party-girl

This complex and violent surge and downswing of sex hormones causes a mutation of moods, which surge and downswing just as violently. A drop in estrogen and correlating rise in progesterone makes us cry while watching Pocahontas. It also makes us want to poison your food with arsenic. Even that might be too subtle.

angry-girl

“You left your socks on the bedroom floor again?? Why don’t you just take a shit all over my leg!! Jesus H. Christ!!

Thankfully, by the second half of week three, estrogen begins to climb back up again, making your chance of getting laid that much better. Don’t blame your girlfriend for faking it though… increased levels of progesterone don’t make us feel very sexy. Now, in fact, would be the time to ask her to marry you and then spend the night spooning her.

If you thought it was over, you’d be wrong. In the final week of our cycle, all three hormones commit suicide again and the premenstrual symptoms hit full force like a category 5 hurricane. At this time, we are at our most homicidal. You might want to invest in a sleeper couch or horse tranquilizers.

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It’s Not All Bad…

The entire point of menstruating is to reproduce and while it tends to have its downsides – bleeding from your hoo ha begin a major one, terrible mood swings being another – it also has it perks. The hormonal cycle a woman experiences takes her up slippery sex mountains of desire and brings her crashing down into yawning chasms of despair and chocolate craving. If your most intimate parts resembled the scene of a hit and run, you’d also get a little crabby.

Don’t regard your lady’s period as you might the blood-engorged elevators opening in the film adaptation of “The Shining”. She feels just as confused, angry and upset by her own fluctuating hormones as you. Just throw a bar of chocolate at her and she’ll pipe down. And if you find any bottles labelled “As” in the kitchen cupboards, you might want to avoid any home-cooked meals in the week prior to her period.

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

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There is a brilliant ad doing the rounds on the Internet and apparently it was the brainchild of some Russian marketer. The advert shows two gorgeous buxom young women – one blonde, one brunette – walking in slow motion along the beach, tossing their hair around, boobs bouncing, staring intensely into the distance and generally being ridiculously sexy. Both of them head into the crashing waves of the sea. Suddenly, the brunette gets viciously body slammed by a gigantic shark, which thrashes the water into a soup of white foam and crimson blood.

The ad was for tampons. Brilliant! Check it out Here

I was terribly sad to see the brunette go.

What I don’t understand is why this advert was never aired on the television. Considering mail order brides, vodka, Mila Jovovich’s chronic nudity in the Resident Evil Octilogy and the language in general (which is just plain sexy no matter which way you spin it), I would NEVER have pinned this vast country to be conservative. Although, the recent gay bashing furore is definitely a red flag, excuse the pun.

Half the world’s population bleeds once a month, so why is this an issue that needs to be censored? Because women really are monsters around this time of the month and if you’ve ever seen M. Night Shayamalan’s “The Village”, you will know that monsters are “those of whom we do not speak…”

Having said this, with a little understanding, chocolate and red wine, you can sail under the radar of our homicidal tendencies and endear yourselves to us further. We may go 50 shades of cray once a month, but we eventually get over it. Also, it would help if you looked like Ryan Gosling.

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