There are many lies, half-truths, and misleading facts about sexuality, especially when it comes to sexual experiences, female sexuality, and queerness. You can blame them on bad sex education, antiquated sexual mores, or numerous other factors. Most people are socialized with pervasive sexual myths propagated directly and indirectly by media representation, friends, families, and even politicians. But it’s time we cleared the air and got read about sexuality — below, we debunk the top 10 most common sexual myths.
Myth #1. Masturbation while being in a relationship is a sign of sexual dissatisfaction
Masturbation is a completely normal and healthy aspect of every individual’s sexuality, regardless of their relationship status. The fact that your partner might masturbate doesn’t say anything about your relationship or their sexual satisfaction. Masturbation allows people to soothe themselves, release energy, and relax, and it can be done solo or with a partner. It doesn’t mean they find you unattractive.
Myth #2. Sex burns calories and is a good substitute to exercise
There’s a common misconception that sex burns calories, but that’s simply not true. Studies show that 30 minutes of sex burns 85 to 100 calories, which isn’t a lot considering you need to burn 3500 calories to lose about one pound of weight. Furthermore, most people have sex for an average duration of 3 to 7 minutes, which would burn just about 10 calories. It’s with noting that sex provides numerous health benefits, but they’re not related to calorie loss or burning fat.
Myth #3. Birth control protects you from STDs
People often assume that birth control methods, like pills, Depo, runs, IUDs, and patches prevent pregnancy AND sexually transmitted diseases. But that’s a dangerous myth. Birth control is used for one purpose only — preventing pregnancy. The only way to prevent pregnancy AND STDs is through condoms because they create a physical barrier between the partners. To reduce your risk of STIs even further, you should get tested regularly and ask your partner to get tested, as well.
Myth #4. Virginity is a real thing with physical implications
Virginity is a social construct with no physical implications and no true means of determination. Historically, the idea of “virginity” was used to commodify women, and it was assumed that a woman’s “hymen” had to break during sex to indicate they had just lost their virginity. However, even the concept of the “hymen” is tenuous at best because it’s a delicate tissue that can be broken in numerous ways. The concept of virginity is still vague because it only accounts for penis-to-vagina sex, completely erasing all the other forms of valid sexual experiences, such as oral sex, anal sex, and queer sex.
Myth #5. There’s no difference between the vagina and the vulva
People often use the term “vulva” to refer to the entire female genital area. However, that’s not entirely correct — the “vulva” is the visible part of the genitalia, and the “vagina” is the inner vaginal canal. The vagina is a canal that connects the vulva (external) to the uterus (internal). While this might seem like a semantic issue, feminist analysis suggests that this misconception exists because mainstream culture only associates the female genitalia with the part meant for heterosexual male pleasure.
Myth #6. Men are constantly thinking about sex
There’s a popular assumption that men think about sex every seven seconds. Most people seem to cite that as a scientific finding, especially since it has featured in numerous media representations. But it’s hard to trace that assumption to any actual clinical research. Instead, clinical studies have consistently shown that men don’t think about sex as much as the media would have us believe. A study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that men think about sex approximately 19 times a day (on average) — far less than 8000 times, according to popular assumption.
Myth #7. Oral sex is safe sex
People assume that STIs can’t be passed through oral sex, but that’s a dangerous myth. While oral sex is certainly far less risky than anal sex or vaginal sex, it can still lead to sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, syphilis, HPV, herpes, HIV, gonorrhea, and more. The only safe sex is actual safe sex with condoms.
Myth #8. The clitoris is a tiny nub
It’s assumed that the clitoris is just a tiny little nub on top of the vulva. However, in actuality, the visible nub is just the part of the clitoral structure visible externally. The actual clitoris can be as big as 5”, but most of it remains under the surface. As such, most people focus on stimulating the tiny nub, but stimulating the entire clitoral structure with oral sex or clitoral suction toys, like our own birdie, can produce far more powerful orgasms.
Myth #9. You only need STD tests if you’re a player
People often assume that STD tests are only meant for those with numerous partners, i.e., “players.” However, anyone who is sexually active should get regular STD tests, even if they’re in a stable monogamous relationship with one partner. Most people don’t even realize it when they have STDs, allowing the disease to escalate. Regular STD tests identify and stop the disease at the earliest stages, which, in turn, also prevents you from spreading it unwittingly.
Myth #10. Too much sex leads to vaginal looseness
The vagina is an extremely elastic muscle, and its tightness isn’t determined by how much sex you have. The myth of the “loose woman” is only meant to shame women for exploring their sexuality — it has no basis on actual science. Vaginal laxity can happen throughout a lifetime for various reasons, such as childbirth, hormonal changes, weight fluctuations, and age, but sexual frequency isn’t a factor.