Humanity’s opinion on sex is nearly unanimously favorable. Just about everyone likes talking about it, doing it, watching other people do it on the Internet, and pretty much everything else involving sex—and for good reason, too; it’s awesome!
Despite being such a prominent part of our lives, though, sex remains a poorly understood function of the body. Many of the following sex myths are inaccurate at best and completely opposite of how it works at worst, yet they refuse to die because of the sheer number of people who think they’re true.
Myths around what happens to women when they lose their virginity could probably fill a whole book, though we’ll only focus on this one for now. It’s widely believed that sex is supposed to hurt for the first time for women, which is, in turn, based on an inaccurate idea of how the hymen works. While it is true that the hymen can break during sex for the first time, it’s not guaranteed to be painful. We’re not saying that sex is never painful, as some women do experience discomfort while having sex, but the act of losing your virginity has little to do with it.
While we’re on the subject, the hymen is also quite a misunderstood part of the female sexual anatomy. Contrary to popular belief, an intact hymen isn’t a reliable sign of virginity, and vice versa. It can break for totally nonsexual reasons (like cycling), too, and can stay intact even after sex for the first time.
The idea that having too much sex can somehow make the vagina loose persists in popular culture and places an undue emphasis on chastity for young women around the world. In reality, the notion has no basis in scientific fact. For one, that’s really not how the vagina works, as it’s an evolved and complex organ and not, say, a doorknob that stops working after a few years.
More importantly, the vagina isn’t really supposed to be tight during sexual intercourse in the first place. If it were, that would indicate that the sex isn’t pleasurable. You see, if a woman is aroused, her vagina would essentially be “looser,” e.g. increased lubrication and blood flow to the region and expansion of certain parts. The “looseness” of a woman’s vagina does not depend on how many times she’s had sex.
If you’ve ever professionally trained for sports, you’d know that abstaining from sex is a rather common training technique, especially right before a match. According to common wisdom, sex adversely affects your performance on the big day, and many athletes around the world still include abstinence in their training regimens.
In reality, it’s not just untrue, but sex may actually improve performance when it comes to sports (and most other things). It can give you better focus and agility, work as a painkiller, and just have a positive impact on athletic performance overall. We’re not sure if the myth persists due to sex being viewed as a sin or a bad thing, but many coaches and trainers still strongly believe in it.
Even if many people find the idea of having sex during menstruation a bit gross, some people don’t. It’s considered to be the safest time in the month in terms of avoiding pregnancies, as we know for a fact that women can’t conceive when they’re on their periods.
As you’ll probably have guessed looking at the rest of this list, however, you can absolutely get pregnant on your period. While the logic behind the popularly held notion is correct—the female body isn’t supposed to ovulate during menstruation—there can be other factors involved. For one, sperm can stay in the vaginal tract for a few days and will promptly go ahead and do what it’s meant to do once the ovulation stage begins. In other cases, bleeding can occur because of ovulation, too, which can be mistaken for menstruation.
Many men around the world are currently wallowing in shame because of finishing too early during their last sexual encounter. While there’s nothing wrong with that—as knowing your flaws is the first step to eventually fixing them—science says that most men may be being too hard on themselves. While popular wisdom and women’s magazines suggest that anything below 30 minutes is too early, in reality, studies say that sexual intercourse lasts just 5.4 minutes on average.
While it’s true that women tend to take much longer to orgasm than men, that’s a completely different conversation (one we’ll get to in a minute). What most people consider to be premature ejaculation is a perfectly adequate amount of time to take to finish. If you can stretch it up to between seven and 13 minutes, that comfortably falls under the “desirable” category, according to a survey.
Whether or not his female partner had an orgasm is generally considered to be the best indicator of how good a man is in bed. However, if you look into how female orgasms work, you’d realize that it’s much more complicated than what morning-after gossip sessions would have you believe.
In fact, there’s a sizeable percentage (10–15) of women who simply can’t orgasm, no matter what. For others, the orgasm has little to do with intercourse, as it very often takes other stimulation (like sex toys) to attain it. Evolutionarily speaking, female orgasm doesn’t even seem like it should exist; women have a wholly different mechanism for getting their body ready for reproduction, as opposed to ejaculation in men.
The reason so many women aren’t able to orgasm as often isn’t because men are mostly bad in bed (even if that may well be true, too) but because of the female orgasm being such a complicated and mysterious aspect of the female body.
Faking orgasms is popularly seen as a strictly female endeavor. While a lot of you might ask, “Why do they need to fake it at all?” you’re not considering the fact that many people are polite. Because of the female orgasm being so difficult to achieve, many women choose to just fake it rather than confronting their partners on something they have no control over themselves. Faking an orgasm is also a surprisingly effective way to put a stop to a boring and tedious sexual encounter.
Where things get interesting, though, is the fact that it’s not just women who fake orgasms. Many studies have found that men also do it, largely owing to sexual dysfunction and, again, politeness. Of course, it’s much more difficult for men to fake ejaculation, which is why women can pull it off better.
The belief that what you eat affects the taste of your semen falls somewhere between old wives’ tales and pseudoscientific sex advice by teenagers. Many men (and more importantly, their partners) believe it, though, as it sounds like something that must be true. After all, the taste and smell of your other bodily fluids can be affected by your diet.
As it turns out, however, there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that the taste of semen has anything to do with what you eat. While it’s true that other bodily secretions, like sweat, are affected by your diet, the same logic doesn’t extend to semen, as it’s not your usual body fluid (as we all know).
Of the many supposed benefits of sex, one of the most cited is its potential to burn calories. Magazines and the Internet have done a great job at propagating this belief, and it sounds intuitive, too. After all, sex is usually sweaty and takes a toll on your body, especially if you’re any older than 25. It must count as some form of exercise, right?
According to science, it really doesn’t. While sex does burn some calories—21 on average—you’d probably burn the same amount if you were just walking at a pace of 4 kilometers per hour (2.5 mph) for six minutes. Intense, long-lasting sexual intercourse might get the calorie burn up to around 100, but that’s not most sex. We’re not saying that sex has no benefits at all, as nearly everyone who has ever had it would tell you that’s not true, but burning calories isn’t generally one of them.
A lot has been said about the female orgasm, mostly in the context of how difficult it is to achieve. As we mentioned above, a significant percentage of women will never experience one in their entire lives. On the other hand, the male orgasm sounds like something that’s not hard to come by, as men finish in almost 100 percent of their sexual encounters. While that is true, a distinction has to be made between ejaculation and orgasm.
If we’re talking about orgasms, male bodies work in largely similar ways to women, except science understands the sexual mechanisms in males a bit better. Regardless, even if most men do end up ejaculating during orgasm, it’s entirely possible for men to orgasm without ejaculating, even if it doesn’t happen as often as men would like.
You can check out Himanshu’s stuff at Cracked and Screen Rant, or get in touch with him for writing gigs.