Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

Author:Mary Roach [Roach, Mary]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Science, Life Sciences, Biology
ISBN: 9780393334791
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Published: 2009-04-06T00:00:00+00:00

rather than shore up a broken penis, might it be possible to simply install a new one? If a hand or face can be transplanted, why not a penis? Surgeons have, in fact, considered it. Danish surgeon Bjoern Volkmer said in an email that the topic came up some months ago with regard to a young patient whose penis had been partially amputated to remove a malignancy. One problem, Volkmer said, is that erectile tissue can react to trauma by growing the same sort of tough, nonelastic, fibrous tissue that contributes to impotence. This includes the trauma of attack by one’s own immune system, an inevitable side effect of transplanting someone else’s tissue into or onto your body. Immunosuppressive drugs would mitigate, but apparently not prevent, the problem. (The other, larger hurdle, with cancer amputations, is that the immunosuppressive drugs needed to protect the new penis would leave the patient defenseless against the cancer.)

But if you happen to be impotent because someone has cut off your penis, then the microsurgeons can help you. The world’s most experienced penis reattachment surgeons can be found in Thailand, where, during the 1970s, an estimated one hundred vengeful Thai wives, spurred by media coverage of a prominent 1973 case, sliced off the penises of their adulterous husbands as they slept. When a suitably equipped microsurgeon was on hand to reattach the errant appendage, the men were able to resume philandering within a matter of months. Though probably with reduced success: The penises, though operative, were shorter, numb, and often only partway erectable.

The most serious complication, in the Thai attacks, was infection. Two of the wives flushed the penises down the toilet, forcing their husbands to grope for their lost manhood inside the septic tank. (Incredibly, both were found, cleaned, cleaned some more, and reattached.) More commonly, the women would hurl the penis out the window. In the cases described in “Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam,” all the recovered penises were “grossly contaminated.”

Better that than eaten by livestock. Many rural Thai homes are elevated on pilings, with the family’s pigs, chickens, and ducks tending to mill about seeking shade in the space underneath. It is not, oddly, the pigs, but rather the ducks, that the castrated Thai must worry about. The paper does not provide the exact number of penises eaten by ducks, but the author says there have been enough over the years to prompt the coining of a popular saying: “I better get home or the ducks will have something to eat.”

And then there are the castrations wherein the blade and the stalk belong to the same man. One of the Thai case reports was that of a husband whose wife had complained about his failings in bed, whereupon he walked into the bathroom and severed his penis with a straight-edge razor. (While the Thai women in the article almost without exception used kitchen knives, the autocastrating male tends to reach for his razor. Or, in the case of one Thai farmer, a shovel.


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