If “colonizing Mars” is serious and becoming an interplanetary species ceases to be a marketing issue, there are many unknowns that we have to start putting on the table. Among them, of course, sex. And, although it does not recognize it, NASA knows it and has already begun to take it seriously. There are many forms of sex, it is true; but many of them will have the same problem: erections. Or, rather, the lack of erections.
Microgravity is unquestionably a problem. After all, biological evolution has been fighting and adapting to gravity for billions of years. They have also taken advantage of it. Our circulatory system, for example, is designed to redistribute fluids in a standard gravity environment. Without that gravitational help, blood distribution becomes easier, the heart has less fluid to pump, and blood pressure drops. Something that translated is, indeed, that at least on a theoretical level, erections become more difficult to achieve
But the thing does not stop there. Our circulatory system is designed to redistribute fluids in a standard gravity environment. Without those problems, delivery is easier, the heart has less blood to pump, and blood pressure drops. The blood is evenly distributed, and that usually means more blood in the upper part of the body. The most direct consequence is that (in general terms) erections become somewhat more difficult to achieve. Moreover, in microgravity conditions it is not possible to rule out that the size of the penis is reduced.
Wait to? Yes it’s correct. In general, astronauts tend to grow in space, but that’s due to the effect of zero gravity on the spine. The penis, on the other hand, is an articulated structure based on tissues and blood: the decrease in pressure in the lower part of the body works against it. The effect will not be very large, but it is something to be aware of.
drill kryptonite. However, I dare not be too blunt on this. In 2014, former astronaut Mike Mullane commented in Men’s Health that “the even distribution of blood throughout the body” meant that several mornings he woke up with something capable of “piercing kryptonite” (sic). A few years ago, while investigating how to have sex in space, Mary Roach interviewed a Russian cosmonaut and asked him about the difficulties that astronauts must have to “manage” this type of physiological needs. “By hand” was all her answer, implying that, indeed, erections did occur. The subject needs to pay more attention.
But this is just some problems A few other things must be added to blood pressure problems. The most important, the fact that testosterone levels plummet in space. We are not very clear why, the truth and scientists speculate on a combination of factors derived, precisely, from the hormonal, physical, dietary and sleep imbalance to which astronauts subject their bodies. We are also unclear about what happens in the long term or in interplanetary missions (which is when, perhaps, it would make more sense to use it).
The penis in space, that great unknown. As the physicist John Millis said, it is most likely that NASA (and other space agencies) have data on this subject, unfortunately they have not seen fit to make it public. That’s the real problem: space agencies have traditionally considered anything related to sex to be received as frivolous. That is about to change, it seems. And thank goodness: we cannot want to address the conquest of space, ignoring such important dimensions of human life.
Image | Blue Origin
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism