If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a zillion times:
“He’s experienced. He knows what he’s doing in bed.”
Or, “she’s not wet – she must not be into me.”
Or my personal favorite: “if you use a vibrator that much, isn’t a penis going to feel disappointing?”
Even if we don’t say these things out loud, these are the kinds of sex myths that are so pervasive, they just feel true. That’s because we’ve all internalized a lot of limiting beliefs around sex and pleasure, simply by virtue of being human. Why? Because we (culture) are still getting comfortable discussing these topics at all. Just by being here, reading this article, you’re on the forefront of a movement: one that says it’s OK to talk about these things, and to understand why pleasure is important.
So first: good job you, for being curious! And secondly, let’s do some myth-busting. Because these are some of the most common assumptions about sex that trip a lot of people up, preventing them from having all the juicy pleasure they deserve. Even those of us who know better fall into these myths sometimes (guilty!), so a little refresher never hurts.
Here and now, the top 5sex myths you need to stop believing:
1. If you’ve slept with a lot of people, you’re better at sex
Tell me if this self-talk sounds familiar to you:
“If they’ve slept with 10 people, and I’ve slept with one, that means they are 10 times better at sex than I am.”
Good news: NOPE! You don’t arrive to a place where you are “good at sex.” Sex is like cooking: it’s the ingredients that go into the mix that make it a fantastic meal, and no two people are the same. Or to mix our metaphors: it’s improv jazz, every time.
Your number of past partners (aka, your “body count”) has no relevance on the person in front of you. But here’s what will improve your sexual interactions: paying attention to your partner’s pleasure. Being attuned to their body language. Taking the time to understand what you like (which can happen solo). Communicating what you want.
Sleeping with a lot of people doesn’t make you a player or a slut: these are old, judgmental ways of thinking that are hopefully fading. (Shoutout to vulva owners: having a lot of sex also doesn’t mean your muscles permanently stretch out. That’s a tired patriarchal myth tied up with virginity.) On the flip side: sleeping with a small amount of people doesn’t make you undesirable. It means you have lived your own unique life! So take this body count belief, and kindly put it in the psychological trash.
2. You shouldn’t need lube if you’re already turned on
Here’s the reality: lube makes it easier to orgasm. We’ll circle back to that one in a moment – but first, wetness.
Here’s what affects the body’s ability to produce natural lubrication:
- Where you are in your cycle (in general, vulva owners are more wet when ovulating, less when they’re not)
- Medication: birth controls, antidepressants, even allergy meds — all have the ability to affect wetness
- Your age (hormones change as we get older, affecting our genital moisture)
- If you’ve just had a baby (hormones)
- Stress (again: hormones!)
As you can see, there are a ton of factors outside of arousal that dictate wetness. So many people take it personally when a partner isn’t wet…and assume they’re not turning them on enough. That’s why I’m here to tell you: normalize lube.
Sure, there may be an arousal issue here, warranting a deeper conversation. But if you’re both in the mood, and one person’s not wet – guess what? It’s nobody’s fault. In fact, during one study, 50% of folks reported that lube made it easier to orgasm! So grab a bottle and have fun.
3. You can get addicted to a sex toy
…or another, related myth: your genitals will become desensitized to sex sensations, if you masturbate a lot.
You want to hear something cool? The opposite is actually true! Masturbating, whether you’re using a toy or not, activates our nerve endings on a regular basis, creating more neural pathways to pleasure. Boom shaka-laka.
Now then, can we create mental patterns around masturbation? Sure. We can get a little rote with our routine, simply because we know what works, and naturally, we want to do that thing over and over again. But we can fix that, by adding in a little variety: using a toy during penetration, edging, experimenting with your hands or a different toy. (Might we suggest the Womanizer from We-Vibe? That pleasure air technology delivers OMG sensations like you’ve never experienced.)
In short: don’t worry about using a sex toy. You’re training your body for pleasure—you’re not getting addicted.
4. Sex isn’t good if you don’t have an orgasm
Listen—orgasms are wonderful. Love ‘em! The hype is warranted. And: they are not the single metric of successful sex.
What’s important to remember here is that pleasure and orgasm are not the same thing. Pleasure is the journey: the connection, the touch, the intimacy, and the joy of simply exploring one another. But sometimes, we’re so focused on having (or “giving”) an orgasm, that we miss out on the richer pleasure piece. To quote Alanis Morissette…isn’t it ironic?
This belief is an outgrowth of the notion that “sex” is strictly PIV (penis in vagina). It’s…not. A lot of folks disassociate during sex as a result of this thinking, because we’ve been taught that everybody is supposed to orgasm during penetration. And then, we feel like failures if that doesn’t happen.
So here’s my advice: take orgasm off the table. Make presence the new goal. I think you’re going to have a lot more fun that way, and if an orgasm happens, awesome! If not, you’ll walk away still having released a ton of pleasure chemicals in your mind and body, because you weren’t caught up in the stress of HAVING to climax.
5. Anal is only for gay men
Or, that it’s painful, or that you’re dirty, or that it’s bad for you.
Before we get into this one, know this: penis owners can experience prostate stimulation during anal, and it feels amazing. Also? Everyone, vulva owners included, can have booty orgasms. Here’s a comprehensive podcast episode where you can learn all about butt stuff with the expert herself: Alicia Sinclair, founder of B-vibe, THE resource for educational, sexy, and cute anal toys.
Returning back to the original myth though, we can quickly debunk it with simple science:
We all have an anus, we all have nerve endings inside our anus, and when stimulated properly, they feel wonderful. To experience those sensations, it’s helpful to prepare your sphincter muscles, because just like you wouldn’t pop into the splits without stretching your hamstrings — same goes for anal. It can be painful, if we’re not careful, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s also not dirty: here’s Dr. Evan Goldstein, explaining exactly how your colon stores waste, and how it doesn’t interfere with anal sex.
And finally…as we’ve hopefully established by now, anal isn’t just for gay men. Everyone’s got a booty. And everyone can utilize it for pleasure, if they so choose.
So there you have it: the top sex myths, debunked. Don’t you feel better, knowing that none of these things are true? They’ve just been repeated a lot! But armed with information, you know what to do: go forth, get your head in the game (wink wink), and have fun being liberated from stigma.