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Everything you wanted to know about bird sex

Courtship is preferred, but optional when it comes to producing mallard chicks.

A courtship display by a pair of common mergansers. Her head flat against the water is signaling her desire to mate. The male’s erect tail indicates his agreement.

It looked like rough sex. It turns out it was just standard procedure for mallards.

We have a pair of mallards nesting in the swamp behind our house. I’ve been reading about mallards because of behavior I’ve watched.

The vigorous mating, for instance.

Our mallards arrived as a pair. They would have bonded last winter, perhaps locally, since so many spend the winter here.

The drake of this pair stays close to his mate. He stands guard, upright and alert, when she feeds on shore. I’ve always thought he was watching for predators. Then I read a research report on mallards. It said, “males guard paternity … ”

He’s ensuring that all the ducklings, if and when they hatch, carry his genes. His hen mating with another drake could compromise that.

An unpaired drake flew in to our pond, eventually grabbing the hen by her neck and subduing her. The culmination of that frantic minute looked like copulation. That male also was acting on behalf of his genes.

The literature describes three types of mallard copulation. Pair copulation is solicited by both birds, the result of their bonding and desire to nest. (Even with willing partners this can look rough.)

Forced extra-pair copulation is what I saw. The male of the mated pair might then also force copulation. He would be trying to cover a rival’s sperm with his own.

Paired males also will seek to forcefully mate with other hens. It is the male’s way of ensuring that he will breed successfully one way or another. Because of this, any drake’s chance of all ducklings being his are about nine in 10.

Female mallards prefer a mate with bright bill color and plumage. Journal articles reported that females laid larger eggs when they mated with their preferred male. Larger eggs produce heavier ducklings with a better chance of survival.

I could find no explanation of the biological function that produces smaller eggs from unwanted sperm.

Females value energetic courtship activity when making their mate choice. Such behavior by the drake probably signals that he is strong and healthy.

Courtship involves a set of signals by both birds. Watch for bills jabbing, heads bobbing, nodding or shaking. Watch for the female swimming with her head low to the water.

As in so many relationships, male courtship skills are important. And they improve with age.

Wood ducks nest on our pond, too. I’ve watched our hen perform that swimming display. Always close to the male, she swam with bill flat on the pond surface. A few moments later, the wood duck drake bobbed his head four or five times, then mounted her.

Sex is strictly utilitarian for birds. The wood duck drake was atop his hen for a second.

Ducks are among the 3 percent of bird species that have a penis. This is a topic for another day. Most birds mate by simply turning tails aside and bringing together their cloaca, the birds’ all-purpose vent (for waste, sperm, egg).

The mallard penis, incidentally, can be inches in length, and has a corkscrew shape. It is an interesting story, but again, for another day.

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Men risk their lives in wars so women can enjoy societies where they can pursue feminist goals, such as punishing men for sexist language.

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Porn, prostitution will be rampant if women allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia: Report

Toronto Sun

Allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia would cause rampant sex, porn and homosexuality, according to some of the country's scholars.

Academics at the country's highest religious council submitted a report to the legislative assembly warning of the dangers of letting women behind the wheel, reports the Daily Telegraph.

If the only country in the world that still bans women from driving were to change its rules, there would be "a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce."

Within 10 years of the ban being lifted, the report claimed, there would be "no more virgins" in the country, according to the paper.

Currently, women caught driving in the kingdom may be lashed as punishment.

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A bad-smelling vagina

Many women complain that they have a bad smell coming from the vagina, even after washing frequently. This can be very distressing, particularly if it is noticed and commented on by someone else.

Genital odour is due to the combination of vaginal secretions, eccrine and apocrine sweat and external sources (urine, faeces, topical applications).

What symptoms should lead to concern?

A bad smell could be due to genital infection or disease. Clues include:

excessive vaginal discharge itching (pruritus vulvae) pain and soreness.

What conditions cause vaginal malodour?

Sometimes the apparently bad vaginal smell is actually normal, as vaginal secretions in every adult woman have a rather musty odour. The smell can vary throughout the menstrual cycle. There is also a wide variation in what is considered acceptable.

Bad smell is however often associated with infectious or non-infectious causes of vaginitis or less often, vulval disease.

Malodorous vaginal infections include:

Bacterial vaginosis (the most common reason for genital malodour, a fishy smell) Trichomoniasis (this is foul-smelling in only about 20% of infected women) Vulval ulceration of any cause, particularly if due to donovanosis or chancroid Vaginal discharge associated with pelvic inflammatory disease Forgotten foreign bodies such as tampons, diaphragms or sponges Fistulas or passageways linking the vagina with the rectum or bladder following childbirth, injury or surgery Hidradenitis suppurativa. Although candidal vulvovaginitis (thrush) is very common, it causes a yeasty smell, which is not considered particularly unpleasant by most women.

Noninfectious causes of vaginal malodour include:

Excessive perspiration ( hyperhidrosis leading to bromhidrosis) especially associated with obesity Chronic constipation and bloating or dietary factors leading to release of smelly rectal gases Urinary incontinence, releasing ammonia Faecal incontinence Poor hygiene, often in women who are elderly or mentally unwell Vulval cancer, when it is due to necrosis (death of tissue) Discharge or necrosis of other genital cancers Trimethylaminuria (fish-odour syndrome) Olfactory hallucinations, e.g. associated with temporal lobe epilepsy Psychiatric conditions. What tests should be done?

Women complaining of genital malodour should undergo careful external and internal examination after a careful history has been taken. Tests may include pH, vaginal and/or vulval swabs for microbiology and sometimes skin biopsy.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Antibiotics should be prescribed for confirmed infection.

General measures should include:

Avoid wearing tight or occlusive underwear Change underwear frequently Bathe gently using non-soap cleanser once or twice daily Attempt to lose weight, if relevant If incontinent of urine, copper acetate impregnated incontinence pads may help to reduce the smell. The hazards of self-treatment

Excessive washing, antiseptics, deodorants and douching (rinsing out the vagina) may irritate the vagina and vulva, potentially resulting in increased irritation and discharge from vulvitis, chemically-induced vaginitis or secondary infection. Don’t do it!

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