10 Stubborn Sex Myths That Just Won't Die, Debunked


Myth 1: Penis Size Matters

Men seem to care a lot about the size and shape of their penises, but do women — or even other men? And how much does it actually affect performance in the bedroom? Some argue larger penises can create a more intense orgasm during penetrative sex. Others presume that men with smaller members make up for the difference with added effort. Debby says it can depend on the person but ultimately has more to do with a psychological connection than anything else:

To some people, size does matter. They may wish their partner were longer or shorter or thinner or thicker. The bottom line, however, is that research consistently finds that sexual satisfaction is more influenced by psychological connection, intimacy and relationship satisfaction — not just the size or shape of a person’s genitals. In our study of more than 1600 men, we found the average erect length was about 5.6 inches, with most men hovering around that average. How two people connect through sex is typically more important than the size of the parts, however. A great book for better technique? Great in Bed.

Amy agrees, and notes some men might underestimate what they’ve got and that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to genitalia:

Size matters to those who let it matter, and that includes men and women. People have and inflict too much body shame about genitals. Some even worry when they are “average”, For example, men who look downward at their penises (or who have belly fat) may see them as smaller than they actually are. Sometimes a larger penis may be “too large” for oral sex, but just right for penetration. Or a smaller penis may feel just right for oral sex, as it can be taken more completely into the mouth. Motion, rapport, depth of intimacy, lovemaking skills, and/or positions often have more to do with partner satisfaction than size.

So what should you do if you’re unhappy with the size of your package? Stop worrying so much about what you’re working with — whether too large, too small, or too average — and figure out how you can use it to please your partner. Any partner worth your time won’t reject you solely based on the size of your penis, and if they really want something different from time to time you can supplement your sexual regimen with toys.

On the other side of the issue, if you have a partner who struggles with his size, be supportive. If the sex is good, let him know. When it isn’t, make suggestions that will increase your pleasure. It may be his insecurity, but good partners should help each other.


Myth #5: Period Sex is Painful

If you have a particularly painful period, then just the thought of having sex can send shivers down your spine (in a bad way). But, you may be missing out on some major pain relief: Chavez notes that sex can actually reduce pain by releasing hormones that ease your cramps.

“Sexual activity can also release tension and relax the pelvic floor, which can reduce painful sex,” she says.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s painless for everyone. If you notice any discomfort while having sex during your menstrual cycle, Dweck recommends changing positions, trying alternatives to penetrative sex (oral, anal, hand stuff, you get it) or taking a pain reliever like ibuprofen before sex.




Myth: BDSM Is Abuse

What separates abuse from rough play, violent fetishes, and other forms of inflicted pain is one concept. Consent. Consent should be clear. Consent should be granted multiple times – meaning that both parties should talk before, during, and after a scene or moment to make sure everyone is on the same page. BDSM in a healthy, consensual environment is not abuse. It is a physical manifestation of desires and urges, no matter how dark or dangerous.

4. Neither the ‘pull-out’ method, nor the ‘rhythm method’, are legitimate forms of contraception

This is a tricky one. Many people, regardless of research studies, are too nervous to use either of these methods, or they pair them with condoms/hormonal methods. This is probably the best practise. I would not want to encourage something that gets you or your partner pregnant! Neither of the above can prevent STDs or STIs (realistically the only way to prevent STIs is to not have sex, but no one wants that). But statistically and scientifically speaking, both can be as effective as any barrier or hormonal method — when used correctly. And there’s the catch.

The Natural Cycles app seems fantastic. #NotSpon

There is an app called Natural Cycles that has been approved by researchers as totally legitimate. But if you misuse it or fail to follow its careful instructions, you might run the risk of getting pregnant. The pull-out method is tricky, too. Many people report mishaps, many people don’t. The trick is knowing whether your partner has the self-control — which they can practise, when they masturbate. Google ‘edging’ and the ‘pinch method’ — though be aware you might get some dodgy search results. Again: pair it with a condom and you can’t go wrong.

Myth: You Must Enjoy Pain to Be Submissive

Nope and double nope. While some submissives (myself included) have a masochistic side, and we do enjoy our fair share of pain, not every submissive does. Conversely, not every masochist is a submissive. Sadism and masochism are separate from Dominance and submission. Sure, they can overlap, but it's certainly no requirement.

Myth #2: Period Sex Is Messy

This is probably the biggest misconception about period sex—and it’s also one of the biggest excuses people have for avoiding it. Yes, period sex can be messy, but it doesn’t have to be if you take the proper steps.

Dr. Alyssa Dweck, OB/GYN and Chief Medical Officer at Bonafide, notes that there are quite a few ways to minimize the splash zone, including wearing a menstrual disc or vaginal diaphragm during sex. “The disc or diaphragm will collect flow and in many cases prove to be mess free,” she says.

Dweck also notes using a menstrual sponge before sex can minimize blood as well, but she does not recommend it, instead suggesting a Dripstick, a vaginal sponge used for sex clean up.

If you’d rather let it all flow (but don’t want to deal with clean-up afterwards), Dweck says simply having sex in the shower is the easiest way to guarantee almost no mess. She also recommends laying a towel over your bed (or wherever you’re having sex, we don’t judge) for an easy-to-clean setting.




1. The Hymen is a thin membrane that covers the vaginal opening, to be broken when you lose your virginity

No, no, no. 110% no. It is a thin membrane, but it does not ‘cover the vaginal opening’. If this were true, how would ‘virgins’ use tampons? Bleed on their period? Would fingering yourself (less common than you think!) mean losing your virginity? No. The hymen comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be like a very thin crescent moon that covers some of the vaginal opening, or it can be a thin line of membrane down the centre of the vagina that gets worn away gently. Here:

If you suspect your hymen is covering your opening
If you suspect your hymen is covering your opening, you should speak to your doctor.

This membrane can be worn down naturally by horse-riding, tampons, or gently stretched by sexual activity, moving out of the way and making subsequent sexual encounters more comfortable. Some people are born without them, and some people have hymens that cover their vaginas — but this can cause problems.

Myth 3: Most Women Can Achieve Orgasm From Vaginal Sex Alone

Wouldn’t it be easy if orgasms resulted from simply following instructions? Just insert Tab A into Slot B, move it around for a while, and enjoy. Perhaps because it more often works that way for men, this unfortunate myth arose for women. Most don’t achieve orgasm from vaginal sex alone even though it’s possible — anatomically speaking. Debby explains:

It’s not that simple to determine who “can” have an orgasm from a certain type of sex (after all, whether someone has an orgasm during sex depends on more than just their ability, but also on how they feel about their partner, their partner’s technique, etc). And when women have orgasms from penile-vaginal intercourse, it’s not always clear-cut how exactly the orgasm came to be. After all, the clitoris has inside parts and outside parts and intercourse stimulates both. The vagina, including the G-spot area, is also stimulated during intercourse as are nerves around the cervix, including the vagus nerve, which is one pathway to orgasm.

Continuing on that theme, Amy notes that orgasms can occur in all sorts of ways:

Human beings can achieve orgasm in all kinds of ways. Mary Roach, author of Bonk, found a woman who could think herself to orgasm and another who orgasmed while brushing her teeth. However, the persistent emphasis on vaginal orgasm at the expense of clitoral stimulation is incredibly damaging. It’s more accurate to say that the “majority of women” will need some kind of consistent clitoral stimulation in order to experience orgasm. And we should also remember what sex researcher Mary Jane Sherfey asserted as long ago as 1966: “the clitoris is not just the small protuberance at the anterior end of the vulva.”

So how do most women achieve orgasm? Debby breaks it down:

What we do know very clearly is that women and men experience orgasm through diverse sexual behaviours. According to data from our 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour, most women (about 2/3) have orgasms when they have sex, and this could be from vaginal, clitoral, breast or other kinds of stimulation. And yet in another study, nearly 1/5 of women reported preferring oral sex in order to have an orgasm.

We can examine statistics all day, but ultimately we still have a problem: orgasms are less common for women than men. For women who have difficulty achieving orgasm, Debbie recommends reading Sex Made Easy and Becoming Orgasmic for a little help.