Sex is one of life’s most complex yet primitive instincts. Many of us probably think we know a lot about sex, especially since sex plays such a huge role in many of our lives – whether we’re having it or not.
However, you’ve most likely been misinformed about some of the things you think you know about sex. You’ve heard all the talk – now here is how it stacks up to reality.
Myth No. 1: Having sex prior to a competitive sport decreases your performance on the field.
In biblical times, men used to refuse to expel fluids before battles because they believed it decreased the strength they needed to win. This belief continues to plague many superstitious athletes, who are conscious of anything that may impact their performance. However, when researchers in Switzerland did stress tests on participants 2 and 10 hours after having sex, the impact was minimal. At 2 hours there was a very small dip in performance that did not occur in all participants. At 10 hours, the participants were fully recovered. Canadian researchers also found no relationship between endurance, strength, or success in athletics after engaging in intercourse. So, you can forget about blaming your next lost soccer or hockey game on recent sexual activity.
Myth No. 2: It is possible to masturbate too much.
Men will not run out of seminal fluid from too much masturbation, and women will not run out of orgasms from manual stimulation overload. So, from a physiological point of view, you can masturbate all day long without ill side effects (although it would be very tiring).
However, psychologically speaking, compulsive masturbation can become problematic. If masturbation is taking over other areas of your life (e.g., if you’re blocking out social interactions in favour of solitude, and if you begin to see it interfere with work, relationships, or family), you may want to question how healthy it is and potentially seek help. According to some researchers, compulsive masturbation (i.e., when masturbation takes over other aspects of life) can be an early sign of the onset of a more dangerous sexual addiction. In most cases however, the problem is dealt with well before it progresses into something unsafe.
Myth No. 3: Sex equals intercourse – if you didn’t have intercourse, you didn’t have sex.
This is a tough one that has been argued over and over in many research circles. As a society, we have been programmed to believe that the gold standard of sexual function is intercourse. While intercourse is great, there are a lot of other ways to be sexual with a partner and engage in “sex.”
Although sex can be defined in many ways, my personal favourite is: an act, action, or actions through which we express the various dimensions of our sexuality. When we define sex this way, we don’t exclude any sexual preferences or orientations, and we don’t restrict ourselves to a confined perspective on human sexuality. The best way to deal with the definition of sex is to always be specific in the type of sex to which you’re referring (e.g., oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex). When you are specific, there are no questions asked.
Also, outercourse, which is sexual activity without penetration in the vagina or anus, is a very important part of sexual expression and often is left unattended to, especially in young couples. Not only is outercourse very stimulating, but it also brings you closer to your partner in many ways and allows you to get to know your partner’s body with less focus on the genitals.
Myth No. 4: The end goal of sexual pleasure is orgasm.
From early sex researchers and the development of the sexual response cycle, orgasm has been the goal of sexual pleasure. Followed by resolution, and preceded by excitement and plateau, researchers Masters and Johnson made orgasm an integral component of sexual response. Orgasm is a greatly emphasized component of sexual pleasure; however, some of the most satisfied sexual beings do not reach orgasm in every sexual encounter. Tantric sex (sex about liberation and energy between partners) focuses on bringing sex beyond the physical. Many individuals regard tantric sex practices to be the highest form of sexual pleasure. In the tantric experience, orgasm is not the end goal.
Putting too much expectation on having an orgasm during sex often takes away from the experience. This is especially true for women. If too much concentration is placed on having an orgasm, the chances of actually having one decrease dramatically. But if focus is placed on having a sexually pleasurable experience with or without orgasm, the lack of expectation leaves more room for pleasure. Removing expectations and enjoying the moment lends itself to fewer sexual problems and more satisfaction for all partners involved.
Myth No. 5: The main sex organ for women is the vulva and for men is the penis.
Although the vulva and the penis are most focused on in many sexual acts, the main sex organ for both men and women is the brain. The brain controls all of the hormones that are accountable for responding to those things in the environment that get you excited. Without this process, none of the physiological response you feel in your genitals would be activated. The hypothalamus plays a large role in this process and is connected to the genitals through the endocrine system. Primarily, estradiol (secreted by the ovaries in women) and testosterone (secreted by the testes in men) coupled with external stimuli (e.g., seeing your partner undress or touching one another in an intimate way) is what will turn on your loins. While it is important to pay due attention to the classic sexual parts, don’t forget what a big role the brain plays in turning you on.
Myth No. 6: Certain foods enhance the smell and taste of genital fluids.
Many women and men worry about the taste, smell, or consistency of their bodily fluids, especially when engaging in oral sex with a partner. Although this can be a very intimate and enjoyable act, it can be a turnoff if things smell or taste “off” down there. First, let me point out that research indicates that both men and women rate the smell of their own fluids more negatively than their partners rate them. So although you may feel you could use some freshening up, chances are your partner won’t mind at all and will most likely enjoy your natural scent. Second, the validity of certain foods enhancing the smell, taste, or consistency of your bodily fluids is unknown. Very little (if any) empirical research has conquered this debate, although there are a lot of logical suggestions that have been made by nutritionists to alter the taste and smell of genital fluids.
If you are still curious about what may help, here are a few suggestions that are not based on scientific evidence. Coffee can contribute to a bitter taste, as well as garlic, onions, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, all for their high sulphur content. Also, cigarettes contain a lot of toxins which do not contribute well to taste or smell. Eating too much red meat and too much dairy contribute to making semen taste salty, but it doesn’t tend to have an effect on women’s taste and smell. Drinking lots of water will rid your body of some smell-provoking toxins, potentially improving the taste and smell. Sugary fruits such as pineapple, melons, and mango may sweeten the taste of your fluids. Also, cinnamon is known to improve the taste. Finally, for women’s vaginal health, yogurt has the ability to keep normal vaginal pH levels in check, which helps to control vaginal odour. Feel free to give any of those a try, but keep in mind that a pinch of cinnamon and a piece of mango likely won’t do the trick. You’ve got to be dedicated to altering your diet for a week or so before you will potentially taste or smell the results.
Myth No. 7: Women can’t get pregnant while menstruating.
Although it is less likely, it is still possible. Women are at the highest likelihood of getting pregnant when they are ovulating. However, many women do not keep close enough track of their cycle to know exactly when ovulation occurs. Also, some women have shorter cycles than others and the sperm can stay alive inside of her for several days. In addition, women with irregular menstruation cycles may have spotting during ovulation, when the body is most welcoming of sperm for impregnation. Therefore, it is safest to use a reliable method of birth control during all of the woman’s cycle if you are serious about avoiding pregnancy.
Myth No. 8: If you’re in a relationship, you shouldn’t masturbate.
Research has shown that individuals in long-term relationships who masturbate regularly tend to have more satisfied sex lives with their partner. By masturbating, you’ll feed into the cycle of desire by increasing desire for sex with your partner. Dopamine, the neurochemical that activates the reward circuit in your brain, plays a large role in this cycle of desire – it keeps bringing you back for more sexual stimulation. The more dopamine you release, the more your reward centre is activated.
This “need for more” is like a mild addiction. And the one aspect that all complex addiction mechanisms have in common is dopamine. When dopamine levels are increased, the more you feel addicted. In a sense, you become addicted to the feelings associated with sexual pleasure. When you are in a relationship, you begin to translate some of the need for sexual solitary pleasure into coupled sexual pleasure. Also, fantasies frequently accompany solitary masturbation, and these fantasies can be a very healthy component of your individual and coupled sex life.
This post was originally on MedBroadcast.