Thursday, March 20, 2008

Man: Of Penis,plus Other Accouterments of Nature

from unpublished book
story by Susan Shapiro and drawings by Marguerita

Here are some things you might have wondered
about your penis, but were afraid to ask.

Does man have two heads?

Why the penis has a mind of its own?

You've probably noticed that your penis often does its own thing. You may remember times when it was completely inappropriate to have an erection; and yet you couldn't wish it away.
It's true that you have less command over your penis than body parts like your arms and legs. That's because the penis answers to a part of the nervous system that's not always under your conscious control. This is called the autonomic nervous system, which also regulates heart rate and blood pressure.
Sexual arousal usually isn't voluntary. The conscious mind is complicit in it, but a lot of sexual arousal goes on in the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, impulses from the brain during the REM phase of sleep cause erections, whether you're dreaming about sex or about a test you forgot to study for. Heavy lifting or straining to have a bowel movement can also produce an erection.
Just as the penis grows without your consent, sometimes it shrinks. "The flaccid penis varies in size considerably within a given man," says Drogo Montague, MD, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Exposure to cold water or air makes your penis shrink. That's a function of the sympathetic nervous system.
Psychological stress also involves the sympathetic nervous system, and stress has the same effect as a cold shower, Montague says. When you're relaxed and feeling well, your flaccid penis looks bigger than when you're stressed out.
The penis is "kind of a barometer of the sympathetic nervous system," Montague says. So the greeting, "How's it hanging?" is more apt than you might have realized.

Lord Montague -character in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Lord Montague is the husband of Lady Montague, and thus the father of Romeo and uncle to Benvolio. He worries over Romeo's musings toward Rosaline, but cannot get through to his son. He later pleads to the Prince that his son not be executed, and gets his wish when the Prince lowers Romeo's punishment to banishment.

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