Recently took a trip to Texas to attend a conference. Met a guy from New York during my "student volunteer work" (translation: mundane tasks which eat up a lot of good conference going time, but let me attend for free since I didn't get any funding to go). We were just chatting about graduate school. He was complaining about his advisor, and I said, "At least your advisor isn't as bad as that Hwang guy, making his students donate their eggs for research." And then I made some joke about how maybe I should donate some of my eggs to get money to go to conferences. The look on his face was disturbing. I paused. He asked,
"What do you mean 'egg-s?'"
My head was racing. I couldn't figure out if he was asking me how to donate eggs, the actual surgical technique involved in obtaining the eggs, how I could donate multiple eggs at once, or how I could make the choice to donate my eggs. After some further questioning, he finally asked,
"How do you donate a bunch of eggs? Women just make one egg every month, right?"
And I was immediately reminded of this post in which I complain that there just isn't enough sex education in America.
And so, at the volunteer desk of a computer science conference, I'm explaining to a 28 year old graduate student about how human eggs are created during a female embryo's development in the womb, that women have all their eggs when they are born, that thousands of eggs are lost to apoptosis, and that only a few hundred will actually be viable. I told him about how an ovary is about the size of an almond and how the eggs are ejected from ovarian follicles that contain the eggs. I told him about how the ovaries aren't actually connected to the fallopian tubes, and that if one fallopian tube is broken or infected, the other will actually reach around to the opposite ovary to get the next egg. I told him that women who donate eggs inject themselves daily with a series of hormones that cause multiple eggs to be ejected during a single cycle. On the one hand, I couldn't believe that I was telling this to a grown adult, but on the other hand, I was proud of the guy for listening to all of it. At the end of the lesson he asked,
"How do you know all this stuff?"
I simply replied,
"I read books."
I'll admit, my sex education classes in middle school and high school were really boring. Only in the past few years have I learned all the cool stuff. In sex education, I was always shown this picture which looked more like a goat than a grouping of organs. I was given the run-down of the 28-day menstrual cycle. I wasn't told about all the really cool things that a woman's body could do. I also wasn't told other intriguing things like how medical and anthropological research only have THEORIES as to why women have breasts or why women menstruate, and that we actually don't know a lot about the human body. I think that sex education, even without mention of condoms (see other post), could really benefit from these additions. Plus gross pictures, are a lot more fun than this.