Busting the 4 Most Common Sex Myths

Move over, Ghostbusters– the Sex with Emily team is here to bust something way scarier: sex myths! There are often a ton of misconceptions around sex, sometimes due to poor portrayals of sexuality on TV, questionable sex education in schools, and even misinformation from friends and peers.

But if these myths don’t get cleared up, they can have a lasting negative impact. Thankfully, that’s why we’re here. Now let’s get started by breaking down the four most common myths

Myth One: A Hymen Determines Virginity

There is a lot of confusion surrounding virginity, especially when it comes to vaginas and hymens. But first, let’s get a few facts clear. The hymen is a thin mucous membrane, and it’s stretchy like a hair tie, with its elasticity increasing during puberty. They also have an opening, which allows menstrual blood and other cervical and vaginal fluids to get out.

Hymens can softly wear away as a result of activities such as horseback riding, biking, gymnastics, using tampons, fingering, and masturbation. Some women are even born without hymens. As for how to know if your hymen is broken, it’s nearly impossible to see it for yourself. But the common myth of virgins bleeding during sex is more likely the result of a lack of foreplay. When the vulva isn’t aroused, this causes more tearing, which is why bleeding can occur.

The truth is, the state of your hymen has nothing to do with virginity, and what is most important is feeling in control of your sexual activity.

Myth Two: Masturbation Is Bad For You

The many myths around masturbation can be incredibly damaging to a person’s sex life. The most commons ones are that masturbation is bad for your health, or reflect badly on your relationship. But masturbation has excellent benefits, and can help you experience a a more vibrant sex life.

Masturbation is a natural and safe way to explore your body, and release tension. There are no physically harmful side effects of masturbation, although excessive masturbation can harm your relationships and everyday life. Like anything, it should be done a healthy amount, and in moderation! Otherwise, masturbation is completely normal, healthy, and very fun.

Some people feel guilty about masturbating because of cultural, spiritual, or religious beliefs. But there is nothing to be ashamed of! It may also be helpful to discuss your feelings with a sexuality coach, sex educator or counselor, and Sex with Emily, especially, wants you to feel comfortable in your own body.

For women, enhanced stimulation and frequent masturbation can help increase sexual desire and sensitivity. In fact, two 2009 studies found that vibrator use among women and men has been linked to an increase in desire, arousal, and overall sexual function. Women also reported an increase in lubrication, while men reported better erectile function, according to the studies.

Now that we know there aren’t inherent risks to masturbation, here are some of the benefits. Masturbation releases feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin which promotes a general sense of happiness and well-being, but it has many other positive benefits too.

Masturbating may help you:

-Improve sexual satisfaction with romantic partners both physically and emotionally

-Increase the ability to have orgasms

-Improve sleep quality

-Increase self-esteem and positive body image

-Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression levels

-Release sexual tension and improve performance anxiety

-Relieve pain from menstrual cramps and headaches

-Strengthen muscle tone in the pelvic and anal areas, which can potentially reduce women’s chances of involuntary urine leakage and uterine prolapse.

A recent study suggests that men could reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer through regular masturbation, and another notes that for women, masturbating can flush old bacteria from the cervix, decreasing the chances of developing a urinary tract infection.There is a common concern that masturbating when you have a partner means they don’t sexually satisfy you, or that doing so will make you less interested in sex. In fact, regular masturbation can help people better understand their sexual preferences.

This makes is easier for them to explain or show them to their partners. Masturbation is one of the healthiest and safest ways to engage in a sexual and romantic relationship with yourself. It’s good for your physical and mental health, and your relationship. As long as it’s not interfering with your professional or personal life, have at it!

Myth Three: You Have A Sexual Prime

There is a lot of misinformation about sexual peaks and valleys. Many people believe that men’s ‘sexual prime’ occurs in his late teens, and for women, in her mid-thirties. But the definition of sexual peak has varied through the years. These numbers can be traced back to Alfred Kinsey, who did his groundbreaking research on human sexuality in the 1940s. One of the questions he asked participants was “How many orgasms do you have per week?” For men, the most orgasms were had at age 18. For women, it was in their mid-30s.

But if you look specifically at hormone levels and how they affect sexuality, then women’s sexual peak would be in their late 20s, while men’s would be in their late teens — similar to Kinsey’s findings. But high hormone levels do not equate to sexual prime. You just get more easily aroused.  But we know now that sexual arousal isn’t just about our genitals. Arousal involves all of your senses — smell, site, touch — and, of course, your brain as well. So, using genital prime to determine sexual prime may not be very accurate either.

Sexual desire is in constant flux for everyone, regardless of gender, and has lots of varied factors that have nothing to do with age or hormone levels. Sex is an important aspect of life, especially as we age, and can still be an activity enjoyed throughout the course of your life. While hormone levels do dip as we get older, physical changes such as vaginal dryness and erection challenges can be supported through pre-lubrication products such as Foria, using Pjur lube during sex, and even with toys such as the Hot Octopuss.

So, there is no one time that you’re destined by biology to have the best sex of your life. Sexual desire is incredibly complex, which is why you should focus on making your sex life the best it can be, every day.

Myth Four: You Can’t Get Pregnant During Your Period

This is a higher risk myth, as it involves a misconception about the way conception works. Many people falsely believe that if they are in the menstruation phase of their cycle, they cannot get pregnant, but this isn’t the case.

The “average” menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but this varies from person to person. Usually, the menstrual phase of the cycle lasts between 3-7 days, when the uterine lining and unfertilized eggs are shed. The ovulation phase, which is the most fertile window, usually begins 12-16 days before the start of your next menstrual phase. Sperm can live for 3 to 5 days, but an egg can only live between 12-24 hours after ovulation, so you are most likely to get pregnant in the three days leading up to, and the day of ovulation.

Because of the wide variance in ovulation timing, if ejaculation happens during a menstrual phase, some sperm might be able to live long enough to fertilize an egg if the timing is right. Stay risk aware and informed when it comes to avoiding and achieving pregnancy!


Isabella Frappier is an Australian writer and a holistic Sexuality Doula, who specializes in body literacy and sexual sovereignty. She is also a host on the popular new Sex Magic Podcast. When she’s not busy championing her sex positive agenda, she—oh wait—she’s always busy doing that. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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