We all know we heard them in our tweens and teens, and fully believed in them then: sex myths. The big, the ugly, and the hairy, we swallowed them all without question, and with a sort of wonder in our eyes. As we got older, we learned that many of these myths were indeed myths. But somehow, some way, a few of those tall tales managed to hang on into our twenties, and maybe even beyond.
Let’s be honest: If a guy has freakishly small hands, all of us wonder if his penis is freakishly small as well (but does that even matter?). Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, it’s time to break some of the more popular and sticky sex myths of all time.
1. The size or shape of the vagina will change due to penis size or lots and lots of sex
Ladies and gentlemen, the vagina is a pretty badass organ. True, the vulva (clitoris, vaginal opening, and the inner and outer “lips” of the labia) does become swollen and engorged during and leading up to an orgasm. And while the average vagina length is 3-4 inches, it may double when aroused, according to gynecologist Dr. Lissa Rankin. But these changes aren’t permanent by any means, as the vagina goes back to its typical size mere hours after the penis (or sex toy) is removed. An article published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology concluded that “there was no statistically significant association between any of the different genital measurements and…history of sexual activity.”
The only things that are going to impact the tightness and/or shape of the vagina are childbirth and age, but even these are slight changes (and doing Kegels will probably put it back to its original size and shape anyways). As sex educator, activist, and author, Heather Corinna reminds us “menstrual cups—also held in place by the vaginal walls—only come in two sizes that fit nearly all women. A size to be used by those under 35 or before childbirth, and another to be used by those over 35 or after childbirth. Two sizes, that’s it.”
It’s also important to remember that sex won’t feel the same every time, even with the same partner, depending on how your body responds to arousal that day. Plus, sex with various partners is always going to feel differently. Maybe it will feel tighter with one partner on a Friday, and not so tight with another on Saturday. This isn’t your vagina getting all loose because of frequent sex (you go girl), but simply because it’s with a different penis.
Last thing: the vagina is a strong, elastic muscle, with an average width of .83 -1.4 inches. It has evolved to be able to push a baby out into the world. A bit of sex and a dick ain’t gonna have much of an effect on something that mother-fucking strong.
2) Too much masturbation will damage your sex organs
Uh, guys this just isn’t true. Sexuality speaker and sex educator, Catherine Toyooka, has said “genitals are meant to have a lot of stimulation.” Plus, there really isn’t a wrong way to masturbate, unless you are are using sex toys in a purposefully harmful way. Sexologist Dr. Gloria Brame points out that masturbation is “healthier than brushing your teeth every day.” So no, you won’t grow hair on your palms, and nothing will be damaged, and yes, your genitals (and you) will be a lot happier the more you masturbate. Take a look at this essay to read up on a history, and benefits of masturbation.
Also, May is Masturbation month! So if you’ve been hesitant about getting down with yourself for fear of harming your sex organs, you may commence the downstairs-party-for-one to appropriately celebrate.
3) Shoe and hand size correlates to penis size
So this is the one that I, admittedly, still put some faith into. At least the hand size seems logical right? But statistically speaking, big shoes simply mean big feet.
A study actually titled “Can Shoe Size Predict Penile Length?” set out to find out if the rumor about shoe size was true. They measured shoe size, and then stretched penis length. After measuring over 100 penises immediately after the guys undressed (so as not to let the chill of the room create shrinkage) no correlation was found. “The ability to predict the size of a man’s penis by observing his shoe size is a common misconception; the present study shows that there is no scientific support for the relationship.”
But what about the index finger to thumb length? The traditional rumor (and the one that was seen on a memorable episode of “Friends”) says if a guy puts his thumb and finger in the shape of an L and measures it, the length between the finger and thumb will be about the same length as his penis. But a 2011 study came out giving scientific merit on a different hand size rumor. Research for the study was conducted in Korea, when 144 men volunteered to have their stretched penis and fingers measured while under anesthesia for urological surgery. The study concluded that men with index fingers shorter than their ring fingers will probably have longer penises than men with index fingers longer than their ring fingers. The testosterone that male fetuses are exposed to affects both penis and hand size, and also correlates to a lower index finger:ring finger ratio (meaning the more testosterone, the lower the ratio, and therefore the longer the penis).
So if you really, really want to get an idea of a guy’s penis size, stop looking at his feet, and start staring at his fingers.
4) You won’t get pregnant if you have sex in a hot tub/pool/ocean
I have my fingers crossed that this myth is widely known to be fiction. However, just to make sure: YOU CAN STILL GET PREGNANT EVEN IF YOU HAVE SEX IN THE WATER. If you aren’t using some type of birth control or protection and you have sex, no matter where you are, or what temperature that water is (because heat does kill sperm), there is always a chance of getting pregnant (and obviously having protection isn’t a guarantee against pregnancy either). You can even get pregnant while pregnant. It’s called superfetation, and while it is rare, it does happen.
5) If you don’t have any symptoms, you don’t have any STIs
No, no, no. This is a very dangerous myth, as it is entirely not true. There are many sexually transmitted infections that have few or no symptoms in women. Most women do not experience symptoms when infected with chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis, while symptoms for HIV can take up to 10 years to appear. Even if you do have the signs that you are infected, you may not connect them with an STI: Symptoms of hepatitis B include headache, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
Point: if you are sexually active and don’t have any symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are in the safe zone, so get tested. Use protection against STIs when you can, as some methods of birth control will not protect you from STIs. The Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services birth control methods fact sheet concludes that “the male latex condom is the best birth control method that can protect you from STIs, including HIV. If you are allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms are a good alternative. It is important to only use latex or polyurethane condoms to protect you from STIs. ‘Natural’ or ‘lambskin’ condoms have tiny pores that may allow for the passage of viruses like HIV, hepatitis B, and herpes.”
These aren’t all the sex myths that have survived through high school. I’ll be talking about more sex myths next week, including if size matters, and if certain sex positions can influence the gender of your potential baby. Till then, you sexy darlings!
(Update: Here is Part 2!)
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