Issues Magazine

Articles about sex

Alison’s Story: A Young Australian Comes Out

By Fiona MacDonald

Melbourne student Alison “came out” in year 8. Insights from her story could be useful to support young Australian lesbian, gay and bisexual youth.

The desire to belong, be accepted, valued and respected can impact on young Australian school students’ health and wellbeing as well as their school experiences and educational outcomes. While research is still exploring the direct causal effects of this relationship, there is a strong focus in educational circles on improving all young Australians’ sense of belonging at school (Student Engagement and Inclusion Guidance 2014, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria).

Periods: What’s Normal and What’s Not

By Jean Hailes for Women’s Health

For most women, menstruating is nothing more than a minor monthly discomfort, but for some women it can cause serious, and sometimes debilitating, physical and emotional issues.

Menstruation is when the lining of the uterus breaks down and sheds cells, resulting in vaginal bleeding that occurs approximately once a month. Most women will menstruate for around 40 years, and can expect to have about 500 period cycles over their lifetime.

Period-related problems are a common reason for time off work, school or for visits to the GP, and may have a significant impact on a woman’s quality of life. Periods can cause issues at any age, but more commonly affect teenagers and those approaching menopause.

Is My Period Normal?

Breaking through the Binary: Gender As a Continuum

By Sam Killermann

The Genderbread Person is a tool for individuals to better understand themselves or explain their gender to someone else.

Gender is a tough subject to tackle. There are many facets to consider and many pressures at play, and we have all been conditioned in such a way that our first instinct is almost always wrong. But we’re going to tackle it.

Coming to our aid, I would like to present to you: The Genderbread Person! Now let’s talk about it.

The Genderbread Person

Before going further, look at the illustration below. You’ll see that we have four elements. Before I break them down, I want to talk in generalities.

Is Sexual Addiction the Real Deal?

Researchers have measured how the brain behaves in "hypersexual" people who have problems regulating their viewing of sexual images.

Controversy exists over what some mental health experts call “hypersexuality” or sexual “addiction”. Namely, is it a mental disorder at all, or something else? It failed to make the cut in the recently updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, which is considered the “bible” for diagnosing mental disorders. Yet sex addiction has been blamed for ruining relationships, lives and careers.

Differences of Sex Development

By Rajini Sreenivasan,1 Peter Koopman,2 Andrew Sinclair3 & Vincent Harley4

Most people are born either male or female. For people born with a difference or disorder of sex development, this is not so simple.

The question of whether one’s baby is a boy or girl may turn out to be perplexing for some parents. Children born with a difference or disorder of sex development (DSD) may differ from typical males or females in terms of their chromosomes, hormones or reproductive organs.

How do DSDs arise? How are they clinically diagnosed and managed? What are the issues faced by individuals with DSDs and their families?

Same-Sex-Parented Families in Australia

By Jennifer Power & Henry von Doussa

Same-sex-parented families have become more accepted over the past two decades, and research shows that their children do equally as well as others – emotionally, socially and educationally.

It is quite common these days for Australian same-sex couples (which may include gay male couples or lesbian couples) to have children. Greater acceptance of family and gender diversity has led to greater acceptance of same-sex couples and families over the past 10–20 years.

Society has become more accepting of different types of families. People often live with their partner before they get married and it is not unusual for children to be born to couples who are not married. Many people have experienced separation or divorce, so blended and stepfamilies are common.

The Masculinity Paradox

By Barnaby Dixson

Does being “manly” make you a better mate or does it signal undesirable characteristics?

Physical appearance matters a lot. Whether we like it or not, we make quick and lasting judgments of people based upon how they look. While a good sense of humour and kind disposition are important, judgements about the physical attractiveness of faces and bodies occurs within the first 200 milliseconds of meeting. That’s faster than the time it takes to snap your fingers.

Who Needs Sex Ed When We Have the Internet?

By Alisa Pedrana

Educators, parents and health promoters must educate young people about sexual health in an engaging and realistic format, rather than leaving them to their own devices.

Youth is a formative stage when individuals mature physically, mentally, socially and intellectually. We need to support and educate them during these changes, not least in sexual health (see box below).

Young people represent a stage in life (usually defined as 16–29 years) that includes both adolescence (teenage years) and young adulthood. Individuals mature, developing a sense of self and identity. Young people learn through self-exploration and they establish social norms and patterns of behaviours that often last throughout adulthood.

Women in Science: Closing the Gender Gap

By 1 Marguerite V. Evans-Galea & 2 Oliver A.H. Jones

The gender gap in science is real, and closing it will capitalise on national investment to diversify the scientific workforce and benefit Australia’s health and economy.

Can You Name a Woman in Science?

A 2014 YouGov poll in the United Kingdom found that more than half (54%) of the people polled could not name a woman in science. Even when scientists think about women in science, famous and high-profile women such as Marie Curie typically first come to mind.

“Here’s Looking at You”: Psychological Perspectives on Sexual Objectification

By Michelle Stratemeyer

Social psychology has created a rich area of study looking at the causes and consequences of sexual objectification.

Sexual objectification is the act of viewing someone else as an object rather than as a person. Objectification has a long philosophical history, starting with the musings of 18th-century German philosopher Emmanuel Kant, who viewed extramarital sex as the reduction of an individual to an object of sexual gratification.

Trans, transgender, cisgender: we are what we name ourselves

By Eloise Brook

To better understand the debate about gender diversity, we need to look more closely at the language we use, especially terms such as trans and cisgender.

Transgender and gender non-conforming lives are becoming increasingly visible.

Born this way? An evolutionary view of 'gay genes'

By Jenny Graves

New research supports this claim that particular genes influence sexuality.

The claim that homosexual men share a “gay gene” created a furore in the 1990s. But new research two decades on supports this claim – and adds another candidate gene.

To an evolutionary geneticist, the idea that a person’s genetic makeup affects their mating preference is unsurprising. We see it in the animal world all the time. There are probably many genes that affect human sexual orientation.

If IVF “Success” is Judged on the Number of Live Births, the Figures Don’t Look So Good

By Karin Hammarberg

Senior Research Fellow, Jean Hailes Research Unit, School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University

In vitro fertilisation has helped many couples overcome fertility issues but its success rate is much lower than many people realise.

After reading a recent Hard Evidence piece about whether fertility “drops off a cliff” at 35 (http://tinyurl.com/psrnjgw), I feel that some hard evidence about the chance of having a baby with IVF is needed. Some of the figures quoted in the article seem overly optimistic – as does reporting on IVF at times – and this may be because it is not clear what the denominator is. For example, the statement that “pregnancy rates are fairly stable (30–35%) for each embryo transferred up to the age of 30, but fall to 20% by 40 and are only 5% by 45” warrants examination.

Editorial

By Sally Woollett

Editor

An overview of what's in this edition of Issues.

Are you male or female? Gay or straight? These questions, and their answers, might be straightforward – or they might not. Our sex, sexuality and gender are complex, as you’ll see in this edition of Issues.