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Let’s Talk About Sex: Separating Myths from Facts

No matter if we’re getting it regularly or not, sex, it would seem is a subject that a bewildering number of us just aren’t as clued-up on as we’d like to believe.

Whilst most – thank god – understand the whole ins-and-outs of the matter, research tells us that there are nonetheless more than a few gray areas, some of which may just surprise you.

Sex myths debunked

To be clear, we’re not talking old wives tales here – masturbation makes you blind; girls get pregnant from oral sex; that kind of thing – rather, we’re talking about the the subtle messages that loads of us get muddled, with outcomes ranging from the frustrating to the downright dangerous.

Here’s the LELO lowdown on sex myths, lusty legends, and the oftentimes even more miraculous reality…

Myth #1: Matters of Masturbation…

Women Don’t Masturbate

The myths and half-truths surrounding masturbation never cease to amaze, with myths about female masturbation among the most prevalent One commonly-held belief, however, is that women don’t – or rather ‘shouldn’t’ pleasure themselves.

We’re not too sure where this particular postulation stems from, but certainly social attitudes to female masturbation differ wildly from the general assumption – and acceptance – granted to guys. Logically, of course, this makes no sense: women have the same entitlement and capability for pleasuring themselves as men.

Of course, you don’t have to do it, but an interesting study by PlannedParenthood.org suggests that women who do masturbate have higher self-esteem than those who don’t. So there you go.

Guys Can’t Not Masturbate

We know, you know, everyone should know that masturbation is a really, really common outlet for pleasure, whether enjoyed alone or à deux. But what of that tired cliché that men in particular are biologically wired to need to pleasure themselves on a regular basis?

Once again, it’s a resounding ‘no’. Neither girls nor guys absolutely have to do it; masturbation is a purely pleasurable act, and arguably all the more enjoyable for it.

Masturbating is Bad

Better news still, when it comes to masturbation, the old adage ‘too much of a good thing’ simply doesn’t apply. Rather, masturbation can actually relieve all kinds of ailments ranging from PMS and stress, to insomnia and headaches. What’s more, no matter how regularly you indulge, masturbation has absolutely no effect on reproductive health.

Myth #2: Hollywood Glamour

Less-Than-Perfect Sex = Disappointment

Hollywood movie producers, you have a lot to answer for. For starters, no matter how many times you tell us that first-time sex with a new partner is something instantly orgasmic, gratifyingly ergonomic and, you know, totally NOT awkward, experience tells us otherwise.

Quickies Don’t Count

Second: long, slow and to music is not how the majority do the deed. Embrace the quickie, say we, and accept that sex – no matter whether with a long-term partner or some beautiful stranger – is no less lustful, no less meaningful if it’s a less-than-perfect romp.

So, let us all rest assured: candle-lit or no; seductive music or the hum-drum of a washing machine; matching underwear or whatever’s clean, sex can be perfectly, well, perfect no matter the backdrop. Suck on that, Hollywood!

Myth #3: Sex is for the Young

Yet more pop culture propaganda surrounds our next debunking. Ever noticed how despite our being constantly surrounded by lustful imagery on screens big and small, the demographic of said beautiful bodies seem unwavering: they’re all young.

Fact: sex is not just for lithe twenty-somethings and what’s more, your parents, probably even your grandparents, were likely still getting it on way – way – past your earliest inklings of where babies come from.

Say I Do… And Don’t

Just when do people stop having sex? Or do they ever? Certainly, a common refrain at any number of bachelor and bachelorette parties we’ve had the pleasure of attending suggests once that ring is firmly in place – and definitely post-babies – sex becomes a rare, erratic event .

Fear-mongering cliché, or depressing reality? Happily, research conducted by the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University in 2010 suggests we needn’t worry. The study quizzed 5,865 people aged between 14 and 94, both married and unmarried on their sexual habits. Of those aged between 25 and 59, a quarter of married folk reported they enjoy sex on average two to three times each week, compared to less than five percent of singletons. Of course, that’s not to say maintaining intimacy through long years of marriage is easy, but the good news is that it’s eminently doable.

Old People Don’t Have Sex

And when it comes to that frontier taboo – sex amongst the elderly – once again, things aren’t quite as they seem.

Indeed, according to recent studies, rates of sexually transmitted diseases have more than doubled this past decade amongst men and women aged between 50 and 90 years. Yeah, that’s a pretty broad age range, but the findings nonetheless suggest that whilst it’s good to stay active into one’s dotage, it’s also important to stay safe.

Myth #4: Size Matters

There are several sex myths to be shattered when it comes to what clues might be gleaned from the size of a guy’s manhood when it comes to his bedroom skills.

Penis Length: It’s All in the Hands (or Feet)

First: contrary to popular belief, there’s absolutely no correlation between what size shoe he takes and what’s underneath his trousers. Nothing, zero, nada. Needless to say, the same goes for that oft-cited and frankly rather ridiculous notion that hand-span might also bear some relation on penis size…

Bigger is Better

Secondly, a big appendage does not guarantee great sex, multiple orgasms or, well, anything at all really. Size really, honestly doesn’t matter. Rather, fantastic love-making is the happy outcome of honest communication and more important still, sheer enthusiasm for whatever raunchiness you’re getting up to.

Myth #5: The Food of Love

Here’s a sex myth we’re actually a little dismayed to learn has little – if indeed, any – factual foundations.

You Can Inject Passion by Ingesting… Beetles?

Aphrodisiacs, foods that are said to stimulate desire, have a place in the sexual folklore of just about every culture out there. Some are familiar – chocolate, say – whilst others range from the exotic, through to the downright peculiar. Acidic secretions of the Spanish fly beetle, perhaps, or how about powdered rhino horn?

Death by Fugu Fish

Extinction of endangered creatures aside, the actual physical effects of chowing down on these so-called love foods range from the, well, nonexistent to the categorically dangerous.

For example, the tingling effect reported by diners sampling the not-so-humble fugu fish (aka puffer fish or blow fish) is thought to be down to residual tetrodotoxin. A particularly fatal venom that chefs in Japan spend years learning how to properly remove, it’s one thousand-times more deadly than cyanide and can shut down the central nervous system in an instant.

Certainly it’s not to everyone’s taste, and we can only presume it’s that element of danger that sets pulses racing…

Oysters Make You Horny

But what about tamer eats? Can eating oysters, for example, really get you in the mood? Not really, although don’t underestimate the sheer hype around these particularly sexually-suggestive delicacies for setting the stage for sex.

What we do know, however, is that oysters are a great source of zinc, a mineral that controls libido-boosting levels of progesterone.

There you have it: aphrodisiacs are simply a trick of the mind. That in itself is no reason to stop eating chocolate, oysters or especially phallic-looking bananas though – just lay off the powdered rhino horn, we suggest.

Myth #6: Sex & Health

Already there’s a lot of confusion surrounding sex. Whilst we know we like it – sex, most will agree, is certainly enjoyable – what of its health implications?


The good news is that sex is fantastic exercise, burning on average 150 calories each half hour and great for getting the heart pumping. Second, love-making releases a ton of endorphins in the brain, creating that feel-good high and also, interestingly enough, helping the body control pain.

Sex Sports: A Gold Medal?

But if sex is great for your health, why are sportsmen and women reputedly banned from making love ahead of important competitions?

Think former England football manager Fabio Capello ban on players’ partners from staying at the team’s South Africa HQ during the 2010 World Cup, following the so-called, ahem, ‘distractions’ said women proved during the tournament held four years prior.

And what should we make of reports of an allegedly super-sexually-charged Olympic Village during the 2012 games? Presumably there were good reasons behind the London hosts laying on a whopping 150,000 free condoms for the 10,000 or so participating athletes? And what role did Muhammed Ali’s rumored six week-long sexual abstinences really play in building aggression and cementing his reputation as the world’s greatest boxer?

Research suggests that contrary to popular beliefs, indulging in a spot of sex prior to competing won’t deplete all that physical prowess, endurance and sheer want that drives athletes of all kinds to excel. In fact, some studies even point to sex raising testosterone levels ahead of that big game, race or fight, helping sportsmen and women reach the winners’ podium.

Myths, Legends and More

Whether seduced by the hype surrounding certain foods, through to more radical misplaced beliefs, loads of us mix up the facts and fictions of sex. After all, it can be pretty weird and certainly taps into all kind of mysterious depths of emotion. That said, being clued up is the key to staying safe when it comes to enjoying this most pleasurable of pursuits. Our advice: if in doubt, ask!

About Donna Turner

Donna is a Volonté contributor and freelance writer who lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons. Her work has appeared in Psychology Today, Go! Magazine (Australia) and is regularly featured in the San Francisco Herald.

One comment

  1. Fantastic article! There are so many myths surrounding sex and an unbelievable amount that are still believed by the majority, I think this list clarify’s the big myths out there so thanks Lelo!

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