6 Common Sex Myths You Really Need to Stop Believing

couple kissing and touching in bed

couple kissing and touching in bed | iStock.com/Ondine32

People are generally pretty coy about sex. Sure, we love it when it’s in our movies and our music, and it motivates everything from our wardrobe to our career choice, but when it comes to discussing the dirty details, we all get a little timid. And it’s that reluctance that allows certain “urban legends” about sex to continue on, even if they’re not grounded one bit in truth or science.

So rather than continue the cycle of ignorance, let’s examine six commonly-heard sex myths and determine why they’re just that – myths. If we’re going to keep obsessing over sex, we might as well get our facts straight, right?

Guys with big feet have big penises

clown wearing outsize

clown wearing outsize | iStock.com/Amanda Lewis

I’m sure we’ve all heard some derivation of this (hands? height?), but the truth is there really isn’t any barometer for predicting that sort of thing. The British Journal of Urology studied 15,521 penis sizes and found that not only did the size of a subject’s feet have little bearing on their endowment, but the idea that race played a factor was also debunked. Similarly, height was also dismissed as a strong correlation as well. So that’s three common myths dispelled right there. How’s that for efficiency?

Circumcision affects a man’s sexual sensation

Brescia - The Circumcision of little Jesus paint in church Chiesa del Santissimo Corpo di Cristo

Brescia – The Circumcision of little Jesus paint in church Chiesa del Santissimo Corpo di Cristo | iStock.com/sedmak

A study published in the British Journal of Urology took a look at this commonly-held perception by studying 62 male subjects between the ages of 18 and 37. 30 were circumcised and 32 weren’t. The subjects participated in experiments that saw measured their sensitivity to touch, temperature, and even pain detection(!) in multiple areas.

The findings? Neither group in the aggregate was any more or less sensitive than the other. So don’t worry, guys. The grass isn’t greener on the other side when it comes to circumcision.

A woman’s hymen “breaks” the first time she has sex

nervous stressed young woman

nervous stressed young woman | iStock.com/SIphotography

This is widely held as true, but … it’s rarely the case. There is a small membrane that partially covers the entrance to the vagina, but it’s not necessarily hanging around until a girl loses her virginity. In fact, it can be broken through the use of tampons, physical activity, sex toys, or even something like horseback riding. However, many cultures choose to ignore this truth in order to maintain a physical manifestation of a woman’s chastity or virtue. In fact, there’s really no useful function for the hymen, so it’s really ONLY used as this cultural touchpoint.

Herpes is the result of careless sexual practice

Young man is showing a cold sore

Young man is showing a cold sore | iStock.com/lofilolo

Nope. You probably have herpes. 90% of the population does. There are eight different forms of herpes, but when it’s discussed, we normally are referring to either simplex 1 and/or simplex 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2, respectively). They first manifest as cold sores and the second as genital herpes, though sometimes HSV-1 can appear on the genitals. Most of the estimated 3.7 billion people who have HSV-1 and the 419 million who have HSV-2 have no idea they’re infected and don’t show signs, which mean their risk of transmission is low.

That said, it can be an unpleasant experience, and there are still tons of more serious infections out there that should compel you to practice safe sex at every opportunity.

A woman’s vagina becomes loose if she’s promiscuous

woman in panties with hands holding her crotch

woman in panties with hands holding her crotch | iStock.com/Voyagerix

There’s no evidence to support this, so chances are this fallacy just came about from someone deducing that it’s “probably the case” with little done to stop the myth in its tracks.

Sex education professional Dr. Sari Locker says, “It’s a myth that a woman’s vagina becomes permanently stretched out from having sex with a man with a large penis. After each sexual encounter, the vagina contracts to its original size, and it has no lasting stretching.”

Even if there was an impact, it would be difficult to measure, as the sex organ tend to vary wildly in shape, so a comparison of one to another, for whatever, is a bit of a fool’s errand.

To demonstrate this diversity, Jamie McCartney created a sculpture from casts of sample vaginas titled, “The Great Wall of Vaginas.”

Female ejaculation isn’t real or is a forced reaction

young man wearing eyeglasses

young man wearing eyeglasses | iStock.com/Pinkypills

This phenomenon, perhaps due to its relative scarcity, has been considered deviant, but the truth is, it’s just a reaction that some people exhibit more than others. It’s not a conscious reaction, and it’s not controllable. That didn’t stop the U.K. government from banning it from pornography in 2014.

And it’s not even THAT rare. Between 10 and 40% of women are thought to experience some sort of involuntary emission during or after sex. Normally, it’s either urine or a prostate-produced antigen that actually enables sperm to reach their destination. So to that end, it could be considered a biological asset.