Three Rivers Press
msnbc.com
updated 8/1/2006 1:21:40 PM ET 2006-08-01T17:21:40

So what's up with those sleepy, satisfied guys? It's a question that's been joked about by countless comedians and pondered by women, well, since the beginning of time. Authors Dr. William Goldberg, an emergency physician, and humorist Mark Leyner tackle the mystery of the male libido, and nearly 200 other questions, in "Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex? More Questions You'd Only Ask A Doctor After Your Third Whiskey Sour." The sequel to the surprise hit of last summer "Why Do Men Have Nipples?" offers more entertaining and smart answers on the differences between the sexes, bodily functions and medical anomalies. (Listen to a special bonus episode of The Body Odd, a bi-weekly MSNBC podcast, for the answer to the book title.)

Read the excerpt:

Does a calcium deficiency cause rough nails?
There are two facets of our anatomies that are basically dead. (By dead, I mean not sentient, not comprised of living cells, inanimate, muerto, y’know . . . dead.) Our hair and nails.
(The parts we cut, shave, and clip.) And yet we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about these very parts ... Ironic, isn’t it? I mean, we don’t have bad pancreas days or bad adrenal medulla days... we have bad hair days. And, uh . . . we don’t have Cowper’s gland salons, we have nail salons . . . If I seem to vamping here a bit, it’s because there’s a very simple, succinct, and unadorned answer to this question: NO.

Dietary calcium intake has nothing to do with the quality of your fingernails or your toenails. Consuming more calcium will not make your nails less brittle or smoother or grow faster. Nor will it prevent those occasional white spots on the fingernails (which are called “leukonychia,” and are usually caused by some long-forgotten injury to the base of the nail or by an allergic reaction to nail polish, and which disappear as the nail grows out).

If you need further proof—c’mon, don’t you trust us by now?—peruse the December 14, 2000, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, specifically a study by Dr. Ian R. Reid of the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Dr. Reid’s research, involving over 680 women who took either calcium supplements or placebo tablets, showed that there is no correlation between taking calcium supplements and nail quality.

What purpose do freckles serve?
I don’t know . . . What “purpose” does your butt serve? Sorry, that was uncalled for. It’s just tricky sometimes to discuss things in terms of their “purpose.” It becomes a very philosophical question—the teleology of freckles. We can be fairly certain about the evolutionary development of certain traits (like prehensile digits) and discern the advantages and benefits they confer, but when we talk about “purpose” we get into fairly murky territory, because it presupposes some sort of grand plan. What’s the “purpose” of poodles, for instance?

A freckle is simply a concentrated deposit of the dark pigment, melanin. Produced by skin cells called melanocytes, melanin helps protect your skin from the ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight. Especially in people with fair complexions—which means that they have less melanin in their skin—exposure to sunlight causes the melanocytes to produce more melanin in these small circular deposits.

So people with lighter complexions tend to have more freckles. There are two kinds of freckles: ephelides (which are generally caused by sun exposure and fade in the winter months) and lentigines (which are darker and do not fade in the winter). Heredity is a very important factor when it comes to freckles. Studies have shown that identical twins have an amazing similarity in the actual number of freckles they each have on their bodies. (If you’re spending a long, rainy weekend with your identical twin, and you’re bored, try counting each other’s freckles.) Now, as far as the “purpose” of a freckly butt—that’s something I can probably take a stab at...

Do your eyebrows grow back if shaved?
As any Goth could tell you, if you shave your eyebrows, they grow back. (Actually, only a small percentage of self-described Goths shave their eyebrows. We have no precise statistics on
this, but base it on empirical evidence gleaned from friends and family who are themselves Gothic Americans—the term we prefer.)

Remember, all the elements involved in hair growth are in the living part, down in the root. Shaving hair on the head, the face, or any other part of the body leaves that root intact.

Shaved eyebrow hair is no exception—it will certainly grow back. Don’t think for a minute that doctors are immune to urban legends and old wives’ tales. I was taught, back in medical school, never to shave an eyebrow because it could result in permanent brow alopecia (bald brows).

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WRONG.

In fact, there was even a study done in 1999 and published in the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery. It was called “Cilia Regrowth of Shaven Eyebrows.” We love this study. Five patients had a single brow “randomly” shaven, while the unshaven brow served as a control.

The patients were evaluated for brow regrowth during six months and photos were taken. “Two masked observers analyzed the final photographs to determine if they could identify the side that was shaven.” Result: all patients had full brow regrowth without any discernable difference between the shaven and unshaven brow.

But what’s up with the “masked observers”? I guess it gets a little kinky in the lab sometimes.
(Tweezing, by the way, can be a different story. The root of an eyebrow hair is quite sensitive, so if the same hair is plucked again and again, the root can become permanently
damaged and eventually the hair may not grow back.)

Excerpted from "Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?" by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg, M.D. Copyright © 2006 by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg, M.D. Excerpted by the permission of Crown, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No Part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without writing from the publisher.

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