Sex

A bull walks in front of a cow. If they mate, the bull’s sperm will likely cluster together as they swim through the female’s reproductive organs.

Bull Sperm Get by With a Little Help From Their Friends

Traveling together helps the sperm navigate a tricky, sticky migration through a cow's reproductive tract

Attorney Gloria Allred (left) and Norma McCorvey (right), the anonymous plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, during a pro-choice rally in Burbank, California, on July 4, 1989

Women Who Shaped History

Who Was Norma McCorvey, the Woman Behind Roe v. Wade?

Dubbed "Jane Roe," McCorvey sought an abortion after becoming pregnant in 1969 but was thwarted by Texas' restrictive reproductive laws

Members of the Jane Collective in 1972

History of Now

When Abortion Was Illegal, Chicago Women Turned to the Jane Collective

A new documentary spotlights the group that helped thousands seeking abortions in the 1960s and '70s

In 1547, Elizabeth's brother, 9-year-old Edward VI, ascended the throne. Then 13 years old, the princess found herself second in line to the crown.

Based on a True Story

The Royal Scandal That Rocked Elizabeth I's Teenage Years

A new Starz series, "Becoming Elizabeth," dramatizes the future queen's controversial relationship with her much-older stepfather, Thomas Seymour

The book included reader-supplied recommendations for clubs and baths in countries such as South Africa, Yugoslavia and Panama. Two-thirds of the 1965 edition, though, were devoted to the U.S.

LGBTQ+ Pride

Where Could Gay Men Dine in the 1960s South? This Coded Guide Held the Answers

For locals and tourists alike, the "International Guild Guide" identified places of refuge in a ruthlessly homophobic society

Li Shiu Tong and Magnus Hirschfeld at the 1932 conference for the World League for Sexual Reform

LGBTQ+ Pride

The Gay Asian Activist Whose Theories on Sexuality Were Decades Ahead of Their Time

In the 1930s, Li Shiu Tong's boyfriend, Magnus Hirschfeld, was a prominent defender of gay people. But Li's own research has long been overlooked

At a time of widespread public health crises and evolving ideas about how illnesses spread, kissing was an easily avoidable vector of disease. Unfortunately for Imogene Rechtin, most people proved unwilling to give it up.

Untold Stories of American History

The Woman Who Fought to End the 'Pernicious' Scourge of Kissing

New understandings of how disease spread informed Imogene Rechtin's ill-fated 1910 campaign to ban a universal human practice

The archive of written work and speeches delivered by suffragists simply doesn’t indicate that abortion was at the forefront of discussions about women’s rights during the mid-19th to early 20th centuries.

History of Now

What Did the Suffragists Really Think About Abortion?

Contrary to contemporary claims, Susan B. Anthony and her peers rarely discussed abortion, which only emerged as a key political issue in the 1960s

None

Untold Stories of American History

Escape From the Gilded Cage

Even if her husband was a murderer, a woman in a bad marriage once had few options. Unless she fled to South Dakota

A female saltmarsh sparrow in a New Hampshire wetland is held by University of New Hampshire graduatet student Talia Kuras. The circular device reads the transponder-containing indentification tag on the bird's leg. 

Planet Positive

Saving the Imperiled Saltmarsh Sparrow

Conservationists are racing to rescue a delightful coastal animal from rising seas

Before the critical 1965 Supreme Court ruling Griswold v. Connecticut, state and federal morality laws prohibited access to contraceptives, even to married couples (above: a picketer protests the opening of a new Planned Parenthood Center in New Haven, Connecticut).

The Revolutionary 1965 Supreme Court Decision That Declared Sex a Private Affair

A Smithsonian curator of medicine and science looks back to the days when police could arrest couples for using contraception

Scientists want to open a dialogue with intelligent extraterrestrial beings in the Milky Way.

Art Meets Science

Why NASA Scientists Want to Send Nudes to Space

The naked truth: It’s a plan to make contact with intelligent life forms in the Milky Way

On the island of Dejima, European traders could interact with the Japanese, but with a few (carefully escorted) exceptions, they were barred from continuing on to mainland Japan.

The Wild West Outpost of Japan's Isolationist Era

For two centuries, an extreme protectionist policy barred foreigners from setting foot in Japan—except for one tiny island

Demonstrators at a pro-choice march in April 1989

History of Now

In 1973, a Leak at the Supreme Court Broke News of an Imminent Ruling on Roe v. Wade

Nearly 50 years later, a similar disclosure revealed that the court is poised to overturn legalized abortion in the U.S.

In the ancient Roman world, sexual pleasure was a cause for celebration rather than a source of shame.

Why Was Erotic Art So Popular in Ancient Pompeii?

A new exhibition spotlights 70 examples of sensual imagery discovered in the Roman city

A male Philoponella prominens spider (top) mates with a female.

This Male Spider Catapults Itself Into the Air to Avoid Sexual Cannibalism

The arachnids propel themselves to safety at breakneck speeds after they’ve mated to avoid being eaten alive

Biologists of the past often explained the vast spectrum of animal genitalia with "lock-and-key": the hypothesis that vaginas and penises had primarily evolved to fit into each other mechanically. Today, there is a growing appreciation for the myriad of forces acting on genitals.

Why Have Female Animals Evolved Such Wild Genitals?

From ducks to dolphins, females have developed sex organs that help them deter undesirable suitors and derive pleasure from non-reproductive behavior

ONE Condoms become the first condoms approved for anal sex by the FDA. 

FDA Approves First Condom for Anal Sex

Health experts say FDA authorization may increase condom usage during anal intercourse and reduce sexually transmitted infections

The Shakers, who reached the peak of their popularity in America between 1820 and 1860, loathed the institutions of marriage and family for the sinful “natural affections” that accompanied them.

The Sects That Rejected Sex in 19th-Century America

Why three religious groups traded monogamy for celibacy, polygamy and "complex marriage"

A female dolphin cald swims about her mother at the Madrid Zoo and Aquarium in 2018.

Female Dolphins Have a Fully Functional Clitoris

A new study finds surprising similarities between human and cetacean sexual anatomy

loading icon