Sex Myths

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Common Sex Myths.

Global study dispels common myths about sex
Sex: Fact and Fiction
Sex, Mythinterpreted

Global study dispels common myths about sex

In the first comprehensive global study of sexual behavior, British researchers found that people aren’t losing their virginity at ever younger ages, married people have the most sex, and there is no firm link between promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases.

The study was published as part of a series on sexual and reproductive health by the British medical journal The Lancet. Professor Kaye Wellings of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines and her colleagues analyzed data from 59 countries.

Experts say the study will be useful not only in dispelling popular myths about sexual behavior, but in shaping policies that will help improve sexual health around the world.

Researchers looked at published studies on sexual behavior in the last decade. They also used data from national governments worldwide. Wellings noted that since the survey results were based on self-reporting, they could be susceptible to error.

Promiscuity and STDs

Wellings said she was surprised by some of the survey’s results.

“We did have some of our preconceptions dashed,” she said, explaining they had expected to find the most promiscuous behavior in regions like Africa with the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases. That was not the case, as multiple partners were more commonly reported in industrialized countries where the incidence of STDs was lower.

“There’s a misperception that there’s a great deal of promiscuity in Africa, which is one of the potential reasons for HIV/AIDS spreading so rapidly,” said Dr. Paul van Look, director of Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization, who was not connected to the study. “But that view is not supported by the evidence.”

Wellings says that implies promiscuity may be less important than factors such as poverty and education — especially in the encouragement of condom use — in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

The survey found that single men and women in Africa were fairly sexually inactive: only two-thirds of them reported recent sexual activity, compared with three-quarters of their counterparts in developed countries.

Sexual activity not starting earlier

The study also found that contrary to popular belief, sexual activity is not starting earlier. Nearly everywhere, men and women have their first sexual experiences in their late teens — from 15 to 19 years old — with generally younger ages for women than for men, especially in developing countries. That is no younger than 10 years ago.

Still, there are considerable variations across countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, men and women tend to lose their virginity at ages 16½ and 17½ respectively. In comparison, men and women in Indonesia waited until they were 24½ and 18½ respectively.

Married couples have the most sex

Researchers also found that married people have the most sex, reporting engaging in sexual activity in the previous four weeks more frequently than single people. There has also been a gradual shift to delay marriage, even in developing countries.

While that has meant a predictable rise in the rates of premarital sex, experts say this doesn’t necessarily translate into more dangerous behavior.

In some instances, married women may be at more risk than single women.

“A single woman is more able to negotiate safe sex in certain circumstances than a married woman,” says van Look, who points out that married women in Africa and Asia are often threatened by unfaithful husbands who frequent prostitutes.

There is much greater equality between women and men with regard to the number of sexual partners in rich countries than in poor countries, the study found.

For example, men and women in Australia, Britain, France and the United States tend to have an almost equal number of sexual partners. In contrast, in Cameroon, Haiti, and Kenya, men tend to have multiple partners while women tend only to have one.

This imbalance has significant public health implications.

“In countries where women are beholden to their male partners, they are likely not to have the power to request condom use, and they probably won’t know about their husbands’ transgressions,” said Wellings.

Because of the diversity of sexual habits worldwide, Wellings warns that no single approach to sexual health will work everywhere. “There are very different economic, religious and social rules governing sexual conduct across the world,” she said.

Sex: Fact and Fiction

What’s the average penis size? How fast is premature ejaculation? Exactly where is the G-spot? Grab a ruler and a stopwatch as the experts sort sex myths from the facts.

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MDIf there were a roll call for the founding fathers of sex myths for men, a couple of no-brainers would surely make the list: porn legend John Holmes, whose yule-log-size penis still casts a shadow over anxiety-prone males. Ditto NBA-great Wilt Chamberlain, whose claim of having slept with 20,000 women makes Don Juan look monastic.

And then there’s purveyor-of-sex-myths Walt Disney.

“I think Walt Disney creates a lot of mythology,” says Seth Prosterman, PhD, a clinical sexologist and licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in San Francisco. “In Disney movies, people fall in love and walk into the sunset, and you get this myth that intimacy is a given once you fall in love, and sexuality is natural and follows that.”

In reality, says Prosterman, “Sex is something that we learn throughout a lifetime.”

If sexuality is a continuing education, a lot of us are scrambling to make up course credits. And in a realm that’s clouded by ego, myth and advertising that preys on anxieties, getting the facts about sex can be difficult. What is the average size of the male penis? How long do most men last during intercourse? Can men have multiple orgasms? Does the G-spot exist, and if so, how do I find it?

Penis Size: The Hard Facts

“Drastically enlarge the penis length and width to sizes previously thought impossible!” reads a website for the Penis Enlargement Patch. (One envisions a lab-coated mad scientist pouring chemicals on his own penis, then shouting ”Eureka!” and phoning the Guinness Book.) Almost anyone with an email account has been deluged by spam for such miracle-growth patches and pills, and the endurance of sex myths may explain the pervasiveness of such ads.

“We equate masculinity and power with penis size,” says Ira Sharlip, MD, clinical professor of urology at the University of California at San Francisco and president of the International Society for Sexual Medicine. “Of course, there’s really no relationship.” Still, Sharlip says, “all” of his patients want to increase their penis size.

The idea that bigger is better is “not just total mythology,” says Seth Prosterman, who has counseled couples since 1984 and notes that some of the women he’s worked with do prefer a bigger penis -- aesthetically or “fit-wise.” But, he adds, “For the vast majority of partners, penis size doesn’t matter.”

So what, exactly, constitutes a big penis? Let’s whip out some data:

The average penis size is between five and six inches. That’s for an erect penis.

The flaccid male organ averages around three and a half inches.

Sex Fact: We Are Not Our Penises

If you had an anxiety hiccup before you read the “erect” qualifier, consider it a metaphor for the danger of jumping to conclusions about penis size -- or about the primacy of the penis altogether.

“The idea that the penis is the most important part of your body underlies so many of men’s sexual problems,” says Cory Silverberg, a sexual health educator and founding member of Come As You Are, an education-based sex store in Toronto. “One of the biggest sex myths for men is the notion that we are our penises, and that’s all that counts in terms of sex.”

“It’s a myth that using the penis is the main way to pleasure a woman,” says Ian Kerner, PhD, a sex and relationships counselor in New York City whose book She Comes First offers a guide to “female orgasms and producing them through inspired oral techniques.” In his book, Kerner cites a study that reports women reaching orgasm about 25% of the time with intercourse, compared with 81% of the time during oral sex.

OK, OK, Size Isn’t Important. But How Can I Increase My Penis Size?

Despite the facts, the din of penis-enlargement marketing only seems to grow louder. (“Realize total and absolute power and domination in bed with your partner, with your new-found penis size and sexual performance” screams the ad for the Penis Enlargement Patch.) Men keep chasing after the mythical, mammoth-sized member.

Silverberg says male clients at his store, and in his counseling work, constantly ask him about penis pumps, whose powers of elongation, he says, are a “myth,” although he adds that some men who’ve used them report satisfaction, a phenomenon he explains this way: “I think spending more time paying attention to our genitals will probably increase our sexual health.”

Just the Facts on the G-Spot

If sex myths have such power over men’s thinking about their own anatomy, they have even more sway when it comes to female partners’ bodies -- especially the much-debated G-spot.

Named after a German doctor, Ernst Gräfenberg, who first wrote about an erogenous zone in the anterior vaginal wall, the G-spot was popularized by a 1982 book called … The G-spot. This region behind the pubic bone is often credited as the trigger for a vaginal (vs. clitoral) orgasm, and even a catalyst for female ejaculation.

At the same time, the G-spot is commonly derided as perpetuating the myth ensconced by Sigmund Freud -- namely, that the clitoral orgasm is a "lesser" form of climax than the vaginal orgasm, which requires penile penetration. As Ian Kerner summarizes, “In Freud’s view, there were no two ways about it: If a woman couldn’t be satisfied by penetrative sex, something must be wrong with her.”

The G-spot’s existence is still debated, and whether it’s fact or fiction depends on whom you ask.

“The G-spot exists,” says Seth Prosterman. “It’s a source of powerful orgasm for a percentage of women.”

“I don’t think the G-spot exists,” says Ira Sharlip. “As urologists, we operate in that area [where the G-spot should be] and there just isn’t anything there -- there’s no anatomical structure that’s there.”

Prosterman and others point out the importance of thinking of the G-spot in context -- that it may be an extension of the clitoral anatomy, which extends back into the vaginal canal. Kerner writes that the G-spot may be “nothing more than the roots of the clitoris crisscrossing the urethral sponge.”

Helen O’Connell, MD, head of the neurourology and continence unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Department of Urology in Australia, says, “The G-spot has a lot in common with Freud's idea of vaginal orgasms. It is a sexual concept, this time anatomical, that results in confusion and has resulted in the misconception that female sexuality is extremely complex.”

In the end, whether this debated locus of pleasure is fact or fiction may not matter that much. O’Connell, who is also co-author of a 2005 Journal of Urology study on the anatomy of the clitoris, says that focusing on the G-spot to the exclusion of the rest of a woman’s body is “a bit like stimulating a guy's testicles without touching the penis and expecting an orgasm to occur just because love is present.” She says focusing on the inside of the vagina to the exclusion of the clitoris is “unlikely to bring about orgasm. It is best to think of the clitoris, urethra, and vagina as one unit because they are intimately related.”

How Long, Part 2: How Premature Is Premature Ejaculation?

The possibilities for exploring a woman’s erogenous zones may be tremendously exciting -- which leads to another source of sex myth and male anxiety: How long can I last? And how long should I be able to last?

Premature ejaculation is “the most common form of sexual dysfunction in younger men” according to Ira Sharlip, and its prevalence is around 20% to 30% in men of all ages.

The medical method of determining premature ejaculation is called “intravaginal ejaculatory latency time” (IELT), a stopwatch-timed duration measured from the beginning of vaginal penetration until ejaculation occurs. However, Sharlip adds, this quantitative measure doesn’t tell the whole story: “There are men who ejaculate within a minute but say that they don’t have premature ejaculation. And then on other end of spectrum, there are patients who are able to last for 20 minutes, and they say they do have premature ejaculation.”

In other words, the definition of "premature" may be largely in the eye (or mind) of the beholder, and depends on a man's sexual satisfaction and his perception of his ability to control when ejaculation occurs.

If you just can’t wait for the numbers, though, a 2005 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found “a median IELT of 5.4 minutes.”

Ian Kerner says a common cutoff time used to define premature ejaculation is two minutes, but he adds that many of the men he works with “are not guys who can last a few minutes; they’re having orgasms during foreplay, or immediately upon penetrating. They have a hard time lasting past 30 seconds.”

But a quick trigger is normal, says Kerner. “Men were wired to ejaculate quickly -- and stressful situations make them ejaculate even more quickly. It’s been important to the human race. If guys took an hour to ejaculate, we’d be a much smaller planet.”

Sex therapists and physicians offer a number of techniques that can help men manage their anxiety and prolong their time to ejaculation. Several drugs -- like some antidepressants (used for off-label treatment) and topical sprays -- have been shown to extend time to ejaculation.

And, contrary to the common perception that distraction or decreasing stimulation is the answer (slow down, think about baseball), some say that giving in to sensation can help address the issue as well. “The way to learn [to last longer] is by getting used to intense stimulation,” says Prosterman, “to increase the frequency of intercourse, and feel every sensation of being inside your partner and enjoy it.”

Come Again? The Mythical Multiple Orgasm for Men

While multiple male orgasm is possible anywhere two or more men are gathered and talking, actual male multiple orgasm is another story. Unlike the more established phenomenon of female multiple orgasm, men’s claims of successive climaxes can stray into the realm of sex myth. At the very least, male multiple orgasm is difficult to verify and may depend on the definition of orgasm.

Prosterman says that the book The Multi-Orgasmic Man popularized “an Eastern meditative process that involves wrapping the PC [pubococcygeus] muscle around the prostate. There’s a valve on the prostate that switches on and off before urination and ejaculation. The PC muscle stops this valve from opening, allowing an orgasm without ejaculation. The idea is to keep doing that five or six times in a row.

“Out of hundreds of guys I know who’ve tried this,” says Prosterman, “I know only one who’s been able to do it.”

Is this man Mr. Lucky, or just prone to poetic license?

A 1989 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior recorded the testimony of 21 other men who claimed to be multi-orgasmic, but Ira Sharlip says “that doesn’t happen,” referring to the phenomenon of “multiple orgasms in succession over a short period of time -- like minutes.” And there’s no such thing as separating ejaculation and orgasm, he says.

Orgasm or Orgasm-esque?

What may be at issue here is the definition of orgasm -- which, according to a 2001 Clinical Psychology Review article, has been strikingly inconsistent. “Many definitions of orgasm “depict orgasm quantitatively as a ‘peak’ state that may not differentiate orgasm adequately from a high state of sexual arousal,” the study’s authors wrote.

In other words, those men who report multiple orgasms may be able to achieve orgasm-esque states before they hit the point of ejaculatory no-return. And many men report that strengthening the PC muscles through Kegel exercises allows them to edge closer to this “point of inevitability” without cresting the mountaintop of ejaculation and descending into the gentle valley of the flaccid and the “refractory” period, where the penis is temporarily unresponsive to sexual stimulation.

Even so, both Prosterman and Sharlip say this refractory period can be short enough that it’s possible for men to orgasm, ejaculate, recover and do it again -- and again -- during the same “session” of sex.

And if that recovery period isn’t super quick, you can still enjoy multiple orgasms -- you may just need to cancel your afternoon appointments.

Sex Fact: It’s Not Always about the Numbers

In the end, there seems to be a recurring theme in moving beyond sex myths: Don’t get too hung up on the numbers.

So often the key to sexual satisfaction is not about penis size, stamina records, or a technical isolation of the G-spot. Rather, it’s about understanding yourself and your partner’s desires and recognizing that, unlike those Disney characters, real people aren’t born with a perfect, divinely granted understanding of sex.

As O’Connell remarks on the perils of over-privileging of the G-spot, “It is best for partners to explore the precise areas that turn someone on and how a partner likes to be given pleasure. That applies to both men and women, and the idea that there is any consistent 'magic spot' in either sex is just tyrannical.”
Source:Miranda Hitti,

Sex, Mythinterpreted

"Dude, I heard it too! Only I heard that Rod Stewart got rushed to the E.R., and they pumped his stomach and he had, like, a gallon of sperm in there!"

Now hold on just a moment -- your lyin' pants are clearly on fire. Whether we're slandering easy pop culture targets like Prince, Mick Jagger or even international Renaissance man Don Johnson, rumors like this one have been passed around more often than Carmen Elektra at an NBA bacchanal, and with almost as many kinky permutations.

Never mind that we've come a long way (baby) by exploding many sex-related myths -- women may be rendered infertile (or worse) through vigorous exercise, "self abuse" leads to incurable mental illness, being in a threesome somehow renders you cool -- the absurdity is still with us, and some myths refuse to expire; instead they inflate via urban myth hyperbole into gargantuan lies.

For instance, our particular semen-chugging rumor started at something flagrantly improbable -- say, a cup o' seed -- yet quickly increased to ludicrous levels -- a gallon! -- wherein even "Penthouse Forum" would fear to tread. (Note that the liquid measure units were never converted to the metric system: we Americans like our smutty rumors free of foreign tampering, dammit!) A little common sense and perhaps some carnal field research -- don't forget the safety goggles -- goes a long way toward piercing the veil of mystery with truth. Thus, for your knowledge and entertainment, we here at present some pesky sexual myths in dire need of extinction.

Please remember that all myths presented for edification have been proven FALSE via rigorous clinical trials by hordes of sultry scientists swathed in sexy white lab coats. Thus backed by the scientific community, this humble scribe begins with bizarre theories of deterring pregnancy, since a mental misconception can easily result in a physical conception. Don’t think it can’t happen to you: with the failure rate of some condoms at over 10%, diaphragms only good for around 80% protection and the pill only providing 97-99% protection when used correctly, there’s all sorts of opportunities for that special someone’s pea in your pod.

"She can't get pregnant if I don't ejaculate inside her."

This relic of the "I Only Put It In a Little" School of Rhetorical Reasoning has accidentally conceived hordes of children just before intentionally soiling tons of bed linens. The high failure rate of this most messy of birth control methods is due to the lubricating presence of pre-ejaculate fluid, which leaks out of your penis before ejaculation and teems with more than enough sperm to impregnate a woman. So if you're relying on the "all-hands-on-deck" Pull 'n' Shoot method as contraception you should let your partner know you're a card-carrying member of Half-Assed (Un)Planned Parenthood by wearing a t-shirt proclaiming your true mindset: "Lord, I was born a gamblin' man."

"I can't get pregnant if we have sex standing up."

This is not what we mean by knocked up. Sir Isaac Newton wasn't much of a sexual research scientist, but it's safe to assume that the modern calculation of gravity -- still 9.8 meters per second, squared (and still holding, as of last Tuesday) -- is not enough to delay semen from rocketing toward your fallopian tubes. Having vertical sex won't increase your chances of dodging a hail of seminal bullets, either, so take every safe(r) sex precaution you would use for horizontal sex. Oh, and lift with your legs, not with your back.

"I can't get pregnant having sex in water."

Why not? The creatures of the seas do. While your attention might be focused on maintaining sufficient lubrication in an aquatic environment, your major concern should be potential pregnancy and disease from an "unprotected" partner; water wings do not count as safe sex paraphernalia, and just because you're in a body of water does not mean that any number of sexually transmitted diseases can't find a home inside your body.

Consider that a sperm's will-to-power is a simple yet potent one: swim or die. It's all about the relentless pursuit of fertilization, and millions of them can survive inside your body for almost three days as they swim upstream to deliver their chromosomal payload. Do you really feel safe gambling that some water -- spiked or not with pool chemicals -- and your reproductive tract can stave off a siege on Mount Ovum by as many as 300 million determined sperm?

Of course, if you're planning on pool sex you should also keep in mind (1) will you still be a hunk of burnin' love when your fingers and toes are all wrinkled, and (2) how many kids peed in the pool that afternoon?

"I won't get pregnant if I drink ice water."

Sure, uh huh, and people went to The Grateful Dead shows solely for the music.

Yes, this frigid theory is an absurd stretch of logic, but not much more so than the rest of these myths; chances are that if you've never kinda/sorta believed this then someone you know has, and probably took it to heart (after all, there are no pregnant snowmen).

We've already mentioned above what tough li'l troops sperm are, and it's not going to matter to the traveling baby batter if you chill your system before, during, or after coitus; you're just as likely to conceive as before the icy intake, unless the guy is turned off by the natty cardigan you have on to preserve your dwindling core temperature. Face it, oh would-be frigid one, if you want to kill off things inside your body you should probably stick to drinking Tab. The only way this most misbegotten of myths works is if you drink freon, and then you will be impregnable -- because you will be dead.

“The rhythm method works.”

A favorite for untold generations due to religious conviction and/or lack of superior birth control methods (especially when the “early withdrawal” technique mentioned above just doesn’t seem very dignified), the rhythm method’s dismal effective rate (80%) is further exacerbated by modern research. Now politely dubbed “natural family planning,” the rhythm method prescribes checking physical criteria such as body temperature to determine whether or not a woman is ovulating, so that the couple will abstain from sex for that duration.

This is tantamount to assuming ovulation is calibrated by an egg timer that “dings” when it’s booty time. Since when have people become exact creatures of mechanical precision? How can anyone assume that a given body temperature indicates ovulation? A woman may just be running warm or in the clutches of shoe sale lust. Also, there's no biological guarantee that a woman will be most fertile for a set span of days, nor that only one egg per cycle will be released, nor that she'll let you paw her once she's out of the "danger zone." You'd better stick to less psychic prophylactics, Nostradamus.
Source: Scott Maples,

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If it wasn't for airport security I wouldn't have any sex life at all.

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