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Birth Control And Sexual Attraction – The Wall Street Journal’s Breathtakingly Bad Reporting

In an article filled with speculation, misinformation and broad sweeping generalizations, the Wall Street Journal does its damned best to make the birth control pill seem to be the worst thing to have happened to modern civilization, implying that by interfering with ovulation, the pill impairs our natural ability to choose a mate, causes women to choose less masculine partners and then stray from them, and makes us pick genetically similar rather than dissimilar mates.

Women on the pill no longer experience a greater desire for traditionally masculine men during ovulation….Researchers speculate that women with less-masculine partners may become less interested in their partner when they come off birth control, contributing to relationship dissatisfaction…That could prompt some women to stray, research suggests. Psychologist Steven Gangestad and his team at the University of New Mexico showed in a 2010 study that women with less-masculine partners reported an increased attraction for other men during their fertile phase.

“Less masculine” men. What the heck does that mean? Less hairy? Less into sports? Less violent? Not into Nascar or big trucks?

How about more likely to engage in conversation? More likely to care about their partner’s satisfaction in bed than their own? More likely to accept a woman having a career?

One could use the data to argue that the pill may be the best thing that ever happened to relationships as far as the female partner is concerned.

And where is the data from real life human relationships supporting these laboratory results? Are women on the pill actually making bad partner choices or straying more? Are men actually choosing non-pill users as their partners over pill users ?

Sorry, no data.  Just speculation and innuendo.

Oh, yeah, and the big new study. A study on lemurs.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences this year, showed that the injection of Depo-Provera, a long-lasting contraceptive that is approved for use in humans, dramatically altered the chemicals that female lemurs give off to indicate their identity and how genetically healthy they are.

Lemurs, in case you didn’t know, are the only primates who have female dominant societies, so I guess we should just extrapolate this data to humans, who as far as I can see have a male dominant society.  A  common social construct among lemurs is for the women to live with the kids and the males to migrate without them, so much for the nuclear family, huh? Oh, and one more thing - Lemurs have very poor vision, so without their sense of smell telling them a female is receptive, the males would miss their one shot a year to procreate, since female lemurs are only sexually receptive one day a year, another common trait with humans…

So, yeah, we should just extrapolate that lemur data to human societies and relationships. And while we’re at it, lets use it to frighten women and men away from the hormonal birth control.

Nice reporting job, WSJ. Can I send you the women who stop their hormonal birth control and have an unplanned pregnancy after reading your article so you can explain it further to them?

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*


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2 Responses to “Birth Control And Sexual Attraction – The Wall Street Journal’s Breathtakingly Bad Reporting”

  1. Jerry says:

    What do you expect from the WSJ….it’s Fox News’ printed mouthpiece. You know the same network run by crusty old masculine white men that would prefer to see their women at home, barefoot and pregnant who don’t speak unless spoken to.

  2. Paul Rondeau, says:

    This is little more than a rant that demagogues the scientific method because it disagrees with your personal ideology. What sort of a doctor are you–one that only finds credence in research that supports your politics?

    Paul E. Rondeau, M.A.M.
    Director of Communications
    American Life League

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Richmond, VA – In an effort to simplify inpatient medical billing, one area hospitalist group has determined that “altered mental status” (ICD-9 780.97) is the most efficient code for use in any patient work up.

“When you enter a hospital, you’re bound to have some kind of mental status change,” said Dr. Fishbinder, co-partner of Area Hospitalists, PLLC. “Whether it’s confusion about where your room is located in relationship to the visitor’s parking structure, frustration with being woken up every hour or two to check your vital signs, or just plain old fatigue from being sick, you are not thinking as clearly as before you were admitted. And that’s all the justification we need to order anything from drug and toxin screens, to blood cultures, brain MRIs, tagged red blood cell nuclear scans, or cardiac Holter monitoring. There really is no limit to what we can pursue with our tests.”

Common causes of mental status changes in the elderly include medicine-induced cognitive side effects, disorientation due to disruption in daily routines, age-related memory impairment, and urinary tract infections.

“The urinalysis is not a very exciting medical test,” stated Dr. Fishbinder. “It doesn’t matter that it’s cheap, fast, and most likely to provide an explanation for strange behavior in hospitalized patients. It’s really not as elegant as the testing involved in a chronic anemia or metabolic encephalopathy work up. I keep it in my back pocket in case all other tests are negative, including brain MRIs and PET scans.”

Nursing staff at Richmond Medical Hospital report that efforts to inform hospitalists about foul smelling urine have generally fallen on deaf ears. “I have tried to tell the hospitalists about cloudy or bloody urine that I see in patients who are undergoing extensive work ups for mental status changes,” reports nurse Sandy Anderson. “But they insist that ‘all urine smells bad’ and it’s really more of a red herring.”

Another nurse reports that delay in diagnosing urinary tract infections (while patients are scheduled for brain MRIs, nuclear scans, and biopsies) can lead to worsening symptoms which accelerate and expand testing. “Some of my patients are transferred to the ICU during the altered mental status work up,” states nurse Anita Misra. “The doctors seem to be very excited about the additional technology available to them in the intensive care setting. Between the central line placement, arterial blood gasses, and vast array of IV fluid and medication options, urosepsis is really an excellent entré into a whole new level of care.”

“As far as medicine-induced mental status changes are concerned,” added Dr. Fishbinder, “We’ve never seen a single case in the past 10 years. Today’s patients are incredibly resilient and can tolerate mixes of opioids, anti-depressants, anti-histamines, and benzodiazepines without any difficulty. We know this because most patients have been prescribed these cocktails and have been taking them for years.”

Patient family members have expressed gratitude for Dr. Fishbinder’s diagnostic process, and report that they are very pleased that he is doing everything in his power to “get to the bottom” of why their loved one isn’t as sharp as they used to be.

“I thought my mom was acting strange ever since she started taking stronger pain medicine for her arthritis,” says Nelly Hurtong, the daughter of one of Dr. Fishbinder’s inpatients. “But now I see that there are deeper reasons for her ‘altered mental status’ thanks to the brain MRI that showed some mild generalized atrophy.”

Hospital administrators praise Dr. Fishbinder as one of their top physicians. “He will do whatever it takes to figure out the true cause of patients’ cognitive impairments.” Says CEO, Daniel Griffiths. “And not only is that good medicine, it is great for our Press Ganey scores and our bottom line.”

As for the nursing staff, Griffiths offered a less glowing review. “It’s unfortunate that our nurses seem preoccupied with urine testing and medication reconciliation. I think it might be time for us to mandate further training to help them appreciate more of the medical nuances inherent in quality patient care.”

Dr. Fishbinder is in the process of creating a half-day seminar on ‘altered mental status in the inpatient setting,’ offering CME credits to physicians who enroll. Richmond Medical Hospital intends to sponsor Dr. Fishbinder’s course, and franchise it to other hospitals in the state, and ultimately nationally.

***

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