Take it or leave it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Back when I was a medical resident, there were days devoted exclusively to rectal examinations. These lucky patients, men age 40 and older, would visit clinic, drop their pants and assume the position. I'd don a latex glove and apply lube, tell them to "bear down" and insert my index finger up their anus into their rectum where I'd feel for the walnut-shaped prostate, noting any irregularities or pain. How I grew to dread these days! Maybe I'm not anal retentive enough. Or maybe it was because, more times than I care to count, I'd remove my finger to find it coated with turd, like I'd dipped my digit in a jar of nutella. I made sure to hold my breath, since the gag reflex comes rather easily for me. The horror!

My point is that having the patient make like he was passing stool causes the sphincter to relax, making for easier passage into his holiest of holies. This is the same reflex involved in stopping urination midstream, and in kegel exercises, the method used by many multiparous females to help control urinary incontinence and other problems with the pelvic floor. When I was in high school friends used to endorse the exercise as a method for increasing sexual stamina. I don't know that this is the case. Once when I visited the emergency department they examined my anus and made me wink. Neurologists use the perineal reflex, as the anal wink is also called, to evaluate the nerves supplying the area, nerves which originate in the lumbar region, specifically at L1 and L2.

It turns out that your netherland has a lot to reveal about you. Hemorrhoids, anal fissures and rectal polyps should they occur all speak volumes about your lifestyle - to you I have one word: fiber - as does the decision whether to wax, shave, pluck or bleach speak to personal hygiene.

And it turns out that you are unique in more ways than you know. As George Weinstock, PhD, associate director of The Genome Institute at Washington University, tells Science Daily: "Surprisingly, each of us can be identified by the collective DNA of our gut microbes." In other words, the bacteria in your intestines, which give your poop its signature smell, are like your own fingerprint. Nobody else has one like you.

So, you see, the anal wink has many and varied functions, and not all of them medical. The greatest of which may be this. Winking where the sun don't shine is a great way to reveal the most intimate part of yourself, to say hey to friends, or even flirt with strangers. There are instructional videos to help you hone technique. But you may have to fiddle with your browser's parental controls to access them.

Maybe the Amtrak, as mooning has been called, could replace the handshake. Could you imagine? I mean, how could you not trust someone whose cornhole you've seen and perhaps sniffed. Hey, dogs do it, and with olfactory capabilities far in excess of ours.

Wink at someone you love today. Oh, and uh, just remember to wipe first. Unless you're into that sorta thing.

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