We’ve all heard sex myths, particularly when we’re younger and learning about sex. Some of these myths are outrageous, like ‘don’t masturbate too often because you will run out of orgasms’ (you can’t, by the way!) but other myths are so engrained into cultural ideas of sex that they still affect people well into adulthood, having an impact on current sexual experiences. It’s time to bust some of the most widespread misconceptions about sex.
Sex myth # 1: Sex is penetration
Sex is pleasure, not penetration and certainly not just orgasm. There is a misconception that hard-and-fast penetration is a sure-fire way to a mind-blowing orgasm. Research has found that most women need clitoral stimulation in order to climax, and most aren’t getting enough of it. Whereas, people with penises may feel the pressure of needing to perform through penetration. All this pressure leads to an out of body performance rather than an embodied experience. People are doing what they think sex is, rather doing what feels pleasurable for them in that moment. By taking the goal out of sex, you can prioitise outercourse, intimacy, exploration and communication, which will allow you to discover new paths to pleasure and create a definition of sex that works for your body.
Sex myth # 2: My genitals aren’t normal
Everyone’s genitals are different, just like our faces are all different. The genitals you see in softcore porn have been digitally altered to appear more tucked in. don’t let it fool you into believing vulvas looks that way. There is nothing wrong or abnormal or weird about your genitals. Are you experiencing pain or discomfort? If so, speak with a medical professional. If not, then your genitals are perfectly normal, healthy, beautiful and perfect just the way they are. For people with vulvas the labia can vary in colour, from light pink to dark brown. One outer lip may be bigger than the other or the inner lips may hang below the outer lips. Penises too come in all shapes and sizes. This is normal.
Sex myth # 3: There’s something wrong with my libido
Most people misunderstand sexual desire, thinking that as soon as you fall in love with someone you should want to rip their clothes off at any given moment, that they will have this spontaneous experience of desire – an urge for sex that comes seemingly out of nowhere. But for many people, desire doesn’t work this way. There is another way of experiencing desire which is also healthy and normal, called ‘responsive desire’, where your interest only emerges in response to arousal. So, your partner comes over and starts kissing your neck and you’re like, “oh, right, sex, that’s a good idea”. It’s very common for people in a relationship to experience desire differently, you may experience desire differently to each other, perhaps that’s why you signed up for this course.
Libido, desire and arousal can be unique, unexpected and surprising. We will all experience them differently, but the good news is, there are some practical and tangible things you can do to create a sex life that is fulfilling and open to pleasure. Desire discrepancy is the most common reason couples seek therapy, and there are some incredible practitioners, therapists and courses to help you navigate libido, desire and arousal.
Sex myth # 4: Toys will desensitise you
Vibrators do not and cannot cause any desensitisation of your genitals, at all. Vibrators cannot rub away your nerve endings, or damage them in any way. But allow me to elaborate, to put you at ease.
The suggestion that you can desensitise your clitoral nerve endings is associated with the shame and stigma around the use of sex toys and masturbation. People with vulvas are told a vibrator will ‘ruin’ them for partnered sex, and they will become addicted to their vibrator. This is a myth that shames pleasure and masturbation. Solo sex is sex. You cannot desensitise your genitals by masturbating.
Extensive research has shown that women and people with vulvas orgasm more quickly and easily with stimulation of their clitoris, in addition to any other sexual experiences like penetration. Using vibrators can support all people in receiving the stimulation they want or need in order to feel good. A small study recorded in the Journal of Sexual Medicine also found the majority of vibrator-users report no adverse or negative symptoms to their use. As an example, say you’ve been sitting down for a long period of time and your bum may start to feel slightly numb. So you get up, move around, shake it out and the sensation returns. This doesn’t stop you from sitting down due to the fear of losing more sensation in your bum each time. The same applies to masturbation. If you’re masturbating the same way each time and you start to experience feelings of numbness, or you’re less sensitive to stimulation when having sex with others. Take a break, mix up your masturbation routine and try something new! Sensation will always return.