The complicated world of sex: the same things that can be magical and mind-blowing for some may stir up fear, shame, and even trauma for others. These emotions can make it difficult to ask questions, clear up misconceptions, and bust up weird mistruths and sex myths about something most people don’t even feel comfortable talking about to begin with.
Many of our feelings around sex and whether we feel empowered or ashamed by it have to do with how sex was discussed in our upbringing or the experiences we’ve created ourselves through personal exploration. Other common feelings arise to the tune of our own perceived morality around the act of sex and how our behavior aligns with those beliefs. It’s a tricky and very personal topic. Intense emotions around what’s right and what’s wrong are also easy to stir up when we talk about sex. Have you ever noticed how people love to make things up about sex? It’s typically such a juicy “off-limits topic” hence, myths and misconceptions are born in abundance.
Let’s clear up those lingering misunderstandings that you haven’t been so sure about since the high school lunch table. It’s way overdue! It’s time to liberate your brain from some of those “I wonders…”
Myth #1: Your vagina may “get stretched out” or “loose” and never go back.
Whether it’s the idea of having many (or maybe just more than one) sexual partners, having a baby, a well-endowed partner, or even rough sex, people love to talk about the vagina like it’s delicate and can easily be ruined forever, stretched out never to go back to “normal.”
You will be happy to know that’s just not a thing! What is a thing is people making women feel bad for enjoying or finding pleasure in sex, having had more than one partner in life, or scaring women about birth.
The vagina is actually amazingly adaptable and debunks this myth anatomically speaking alone. The tissue within the vaginal canal is made of something called “rugae.” Vaginal rugae are the accordion-like folds of tissue that are designed to stretch, open and accommodate babies and penises (or perhaps other things) without “ruining” the vagina. So don’t worry, your vagina is just as nice as she always has been, she’s built to endure birth, sex, fun, etc., and then snap back smartly to where she once was (albeit it may take weeks after a baby). Thank you body for the good design.
Myth #2: Penetrative sex alone is all it takes for a woman to orgasm.
That would be nice and all… but it’s just not that simple. We ladies are complex beings, am I right? If it’s not that easy for you, you’re so not alone.
The truth is the majority of women don’t experience orgasm during penetrative sex—the clitoris must be stimulated in order to experience orgasm.
It doesn’t mean that during penetrative sex the clitoris can’t be stimulated simultaneously giving you and your partner what you need at the same time, but anatomically that’s not as easy for some people versus others depending on how high or low the clitoris is in relation to the vaginal opening. If achieving orgasm is something that doesn’t happen often for you during sex consider adding in more foreplay, romance, slowing down, and ask your partner to focus on where it counts! For ladies, that’s your clitoris. Is it just me or could we think of a slightly more appealing word?
Myth #3: It’s normal for sex to hurt (even just a little.)
It’s time to leave this myth in the rearview mirror. If sex is painful for you there are lots of ways to change that and it’s totally not normal. You don’t have to be a martyr and make it work, got it? For sure, sometimes dependent on where you are in your cycle or dependent on how long your vagina is versus how long your partner’s penis is, a certain “too deep” position may cause some discomfort that requires readjusting to experience less deep penetration but that’s an easy fix and should solve the problem.
Pinching, pulling, sharp, poking, aching, burning or bleeding that occurs with sex regularly is not normal.
Start by scheduling a trip to the gynecologist or midwife in your area for help with this issue. If your concern isn’t taken seriously, then you seriously need a new provider, however, rest assured most providers are well aware and educated on these kinds of issues by now. You may receive testing for sexually transmitted diseases just to be sure there isn’t any inflammation causing pain and you will probably receive a pelvic exam as well. If everything looks normal with your lab work and physical exam the next step would be to ask for a referral to Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy. Dependent on your insurance you may need a provider to give you a referral or you may be able to refer yourself. This a great first step to fixing pelvic pain relative to sex. Just say no to dealing with that!
Myth #4: If I don’t make enough vaginal lubrication during sex I’m not turned on (or something is wrong with me.)
The myth that women who aren’t “wet” aren’t turned on isn’t totally true.
Partners often associate vaginal wetness with “how they’re doing” in regards to satisfying their partner in bed when often-times it’s not 100% connected.
Vaginal lubrication; how and what your body produces is also different for everyone. There’s no “right amount.” Where you are in your cycle, how much foreplay is involved before sex, and whether or not you’re on hormonal birth control are also all factors in “getting wet”. Sometimes after a long sex session, your own vaginal lubrication just can’t keep up with the task and you may need to bring in some outside help (that’s okay, nothing is wrong). If you’re curious and want to dig in on the science, I really like this article from the company that makes my favorite period tracking app: Clue. The important thing to know without getting too science-y on you is that communication is key.
1. If you’re needing more stimulation or foreplay to achieve sufficient vaginal wetness to make sex feel good for you – talk about it!
2. If you’re on birth control and always have a hard time with vaginal wetness, it’s likely a hormonal side effect and it will be helpful to have a handy dandy bottle of lube to help make sex more pleasurable. This is totally okay, let your partner know it’s a side effect of protecting against pregnancy. No biggie.
3. If you don’t dig this side effect so much, check out my article here on non-hormonal birth control—perhaps you’re wanting to switch?
If you notice that you never really feel like sex and never achieve much wetness at all during the process of trying for it consider your emotional health, breastfeeding, birth control, and menopause all as contributing factors that can cause low libido. Low libido is a medical condition you should feel comfortable bringing up to your therapist or gynecologist for help.
Sexual health is normal healthcare and deserves tender loving care and attention.
Myth #5: Blue Balls.
The hard cold truth is there’s just no such thing. Can someone shout this from the high school bleachers, the boys have been lyin’ ya’ll! Scientists and doctors confirm that when men fail to ejaculate after some form of arousal, even full erection there may be some very slight discomfort but there is no major harm, actual “blue-ing” of the testicles, or major numbness or pain that occurs. This is true especially to the effect that a woman should never ever feel guilted into sex or sexual acts out of responsibility to save the man in question from “pain.” “Blue balls,” is likely something horny high school boys created to get laid. Yikes. Call ’em out ladies.
I’m hoping I’ve dispelled at least one myth for you readers today!
The more you know when it comes to sex, the more comfortable, empowered and strong you are.
So maybe go out and share a few of these busted myths—they’re great conversation starters if you’re feeling a little balsy.