Common Sex Myths Busted
Sex myths are everywhere, and with the ubiquity of social media, they spread faster than ever. The thing is that these myths were circulated long before the presence of social media or the internet. If you’ve heard these myths and believed them, you’re totally normal. There are strong forces in our culture that cause sex myths to be spread and passed down through generations.
Most sex education provided in schools is inadequate. Misinformation about sex is broadcast through our media. Sometimes parents and other adults use half-truths or outright lies in an effort to scare kids out of having sex (which of course doesn’t work). Many of us were taught that sex is a taboo topic that should not be discussed.
This state of affairs leaves us with questions we are too afraid or embarrassed to ask. So we enter our sexual lives with unanswered questions and misunderstandings about sex.
But, now you are an adult, and you have access to accurate information and the ability to make informed decisions.
Here are a few common sex myths you’ve probably heard over the years and the truth you need to know about them.
Can you get addicted to sex toys?
One common myth is that you can get addicted to sex toys, specifically if you use vibrators to stimulate your vulva. This myth says if you frequently use a vibrator, you will always want the vibrator, and other types of stimulation will not work for you. First, who decides what “frequent” use of a vibrator means? Second, this myth is not actually research-informed but often rooted in restriction and shame around using sex toys.
The truth is you won’t get physically addicted to your vibrator. You can, however, get used to, or accustomed to, the intensity or precision of the stimulation provided by a vibrator. This is not an addiction.
If you feel like you are getting accustomed to the stimulation that you get from your vibrator, just take a break from it. Focus on manual stimulation with your hands or oral sex for a few weeks to reset.
What is sex?
Have you ever wondered what activities fall under the definition of sex, anyway? The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you may have heard. What counts as sex depends on several factors, such as your gender and sexual orientation - and this is good news for sexual expression.
There is a common myth that if a sexual encounter does not include penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse, it isn’t really sex. But this mythical definition of sex is narrow and rigid. It's exclusionary to people with bodies, desires, and experiences outside heteronormative structures. The bottom line is that you can have sex without having PIV intercourse.
It’s harmful to assume that activities that do not include PIV, such as anal sex or oral sex, are absent any physical or emotional risks. Plus, the belief that sexual activities that do not include PIV are less-than may lead to routine, boring sex.
Are there always symptoms if you have an STI?
A dangerous myth often repeated is that you can tell by looking at someone’s genitals whether or not they have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or disease (STD). This is not true. Take care of yourself, and do not fall for the myth that someone is free from all STI's and STD's because they do not have visible symptoms.
The truth is that some STI's and STD's, such as human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, and chlamydia, do not have obvious visible symptoms. And some STI's and STD's have an incubation period of days to years before any symptoms appear.
If you are sexually active, get tested regularly (after every new sexual partner or every 3-6 months) to know your status, and talk to a medical provider about ways to prevent, treat, and manage any STI's and STD's. And most importantly, have open, honest conversations with your partner(s) about sexual health and how you can have safer sex.
Do men have a higher libido than women?
One of the oldest myths out there is that men have a higher libido than women. There is a lot to unpack in that statement, but suffice it to say, it is not at all accurate. Libido is not that clear-cut.
There is no doubt that this myth has a firm grip on our collective ideas about sexual desire and expression, and it harms everyone by perpetuating expectations around gendered behavior.
The truth is libido is multifaceted. It is generated from different internal states and external stimuli for each person. And your libido changes over time throughout your life. It's affected by changing biological, psychological, and relational factors such as hormones, stress level, emotional state, and age, just to name a few.
There you have it - the misinformation behind a few common sex myths and the truth that busts them. So, use your vibrator often, have whatever kind of consensual sex you want, strive for safer sex, and embrace your libido!