11 Sex Myths Everyone Thinks are True
Sex education doesn't stop after you've graduated. While sex ed for teenagers is often prioritized by institutions and systems, many full-grown adults would benefit as well from comprehensive sex education as many misconceptions are born from a lack of knowing enough about this vital topic. It turns out many folks have notions of what's what when it comes to sex — but we're here today to talk about 11 sex myths everyone thinks are true — and what the reality of the situation actually is.
Sex myth: You can get pregnant in a hot tub without having sexWithout intercourse involved, rumours suggest it’s possible to get pregnant in a hot tub. Some believe that if a cis-male ejaculates in a small pool of water (like a hot tub), that the tiny sperm may travel to reach the vagina and result in pregnancy. This myth has been debunked by Planned Parenthood and was even brought up in the first season of Glee when Finn believed he got Quinn pregnant by kissing her in a hot tub.
The reality:The result of pregnancy is not only highly unlikely — in most cases, it’s not even at all possible. The temperature in a hot tub is too high for the lil sperms to even survive. Having intercourse in a hot tub or any body of water, however, presents possibility...
Sex myth: You are either gay or straightAs each generation becomes increasingly educated, this binary way of thinking people are either straight or gay is finally starting to fade. This very heteronormative way of thinking is changing in many countries around the world.
The reality:There’s a whole spectrum of human sexuality and a popular method of describing it is The Kinsey Scale. While some folks identify as exclusively heterosexual or exclusively homosexual, research has proven there are many people that fall somewhere in between the two extremes. Gender and sexual orientation identity continues to evolve and understanding that can help make the world just a little more inclusive.
Sex myth: All women experience orgasms through intercourseAnd it may be exactly this kind of thinking that speaks to why so many women don’t have orgasms. Many studies focusing on heterosexual relationships have found that while about 95 per cent of men report orgasms in sexual encounters, only 50 to 70 per cent of women get there.
The reality:While vaginal intercourse can lead to orgasm (enough clitoral stimulation from friction) for some women, many need more attention on and around their clitoris. While orgasm-inducing nerves are on the head of the penis for cis-men, those nerves live in the clitoris for women — and intercourse doesn’t always provide enough stimulation for cis-women. Many men have it in their head that their performance during intercourse should result in a female orgasm when the reality is many women require more stimulation. Pro-tip: hands, cunnilingus, vibrators and other devices to stimulate the clitoris will help more women achieve the female orgasm.
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Sex myth: Saying “yes” once to sex means always yesSome believe by giving consent to a partner once means you’re contractually bound to always engage in sexual acts. If you can believe it, there are also folks that think just because you’re married, you’re required to say yes to sex.
The reality:No, no, no — this is not a thing. Every sexual encounter requires consent. Consent is freely given, it’s reversible, it’s a personal decision and it needs to happen every single time for sex to be consensual. “Without consent, sexual activity (including oral sex, genital touching, and vaginal or anal penetration) is sexual assault or rape,” explains Planned Parenthood.
No means no. Yes is specific. If you’re not sure, you need to ask. Consent is sexy.
Sex myth: All lesbians scissorThe sexual act is also known as “tribbing” — and folks sometimes make the mistake of assuming that all lesbians partake in the activity. While some lesbians do enjoy the act that has been made popular by television shows like South Park and Glee — other shows like Orange is The New Black call out the fact that scissoring isn’t always a thing.
The reality:We’ve talked about stereotypes before and understand that an oversimplified way of explaining a complex group of people is always problematic. While some lesbians are down with scissoring — not all lesbians do the thing.
Sex Myth: Sex will affect your sports performanceCoaches have been known to warn against players having sex before big games or competitions. The idea behind the myth is that pleasures of the flesh would subdue athletes' focus and aggression (even testosterone), post-coitis. The myth has ancient origins and can be traced to Ancient Greece and Chinese medicine. By contrast, the lack of sexy time would increase frustration and boost energy.
The reality:A recent meta-analysis (study of other studies) debunks this, and even concludes sex can do the body (and your sport spirit) good.
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Sex Myth: Having sex while pregnant will cause you to go into labourWhile this is a common tactic recommended to full-term patients even by midwives and obstetricians, it doesn’t necessarily bear weight (see what we did there?) The argument goes that an orgasm triggers a rush of feel-good hormones, including oxytocin — which plays a role in social bonding and putting your body on notice that it’s got a freeloader to evict (however cute they may be).
The reality:Here too, a recent study from Ohio State University Medical Center shows that expectant women who were sexually active carried their babies slightly longer than those who weren’t having sex — a total of 39.9 weeks versus 39.3.
Sex Myth: Women take longer to get aroused than menThe analogy that women are like crockpots, men are like microwaves when it comes to getting turned on has been tossed around for some time. The idea is that men are always ready to go, while women 'need to be in the mood'.
The reality:There is absolutely no difference in how quickly the genders respond to foreplay as a generalization, according to a study out of McGill University. The researchers relied on thermal imaging to determine peak arousal, rather than self-reporting. Being “in the mood” is linked to stress and is as much psychological as it is physical, so for those finding it hard to get - ahem - into it may mean learning how to shift your focus onto things that get you going mentally.
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Sex Myth: Sex and intercourse mean the same thingYou haven't had sex if there was no penetration.
The reality:Intercourse at its core simply means penetration. Sex, on the other hand, is a broader term that includes a wide variety of sexual acts, and can hold an emotional component. Confusing these two can be detrimental to couples who are facing additional challenges, such as painful sex, past trauma or erectile dysfunction. You can, in fact, be having sex without penetration, and yes, it counts.
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Sex Myths: You should be able to tell if someone has an STIThe belief is that someone who has a sexually transmitted infection would have visible symptoms.
The reality:This myth is just one more reason sex education is so critical early on; some sexually transmitted infections are not reversible, and the fallacy of this belief can have lasting and life-altering consequences. (STIs is a broader term than sexually transmitted diseases.) Many STIs do not show outward symptoms (HPV, gonorrhea, chlamydia) in a carrier, or may only show up down the road, so don’t make the mistake of thinking your ocular pat-down is enough to protect you. This stands true even when you’re in a committed relationship. HIV and STIs are in fact two of the most common health concerns in Canada for 2019.
Sex Myth: A woman’s vagina can reveal how many partners she’s hadIf a woman has a broken hymen she is no longer a virgin, and the looser her vagina, the more partners she's had.
Reality:This myth is so problematic, it can be difficult deciding what to tackle first, but let’s start here: The virginity test. In our not too distant past (and even present), when a to-be-bride’s virginity needed to be vetted before she wed, someone (often a man) would check for a broken hymen (the skin covering the vaginal opening). This is based on the flawed assumption that it can only be broken by sexual intercourse. Such arbitration would hold consequence on the female in question, for all the wrong reasons. By extension, still today, a common misconception is that a ‘loose vagina’ has seen a lot of action. How tight or loose a vagina feels depends on each woman’s genetics and the fit between her and her partner. This organ is incredibly elastic (as evidenced by its ability to accommodate the passing of a baby).
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