Myths About Female Sexuality
I've been a sex educator for a long time and I am crazed by the quantity of misinformation available to all of us at any given time. These myths are difficult to debunk as they have a long history and thousands of urban legends to back them up.
Myth #1: Most women have orgasms from sexual (vaginal) intercourse
Many experts and studies have found that about 70% of women do not have orgasms from vaginal intercourse alone without external clitoral stimulation. This clearly contradicts all the sex scenes we watch on television or in movies where it appears that everyone can climax on demand.
We are not built the same as men, but the lens through which we talk about sex is often male. Many of us wind up feeling badly if our experiences don't match our expectations or we start to question the prowess of our partner.
There are some women who suffer from medical conditions that make orgasm and even intercourse difficult or impossible. However, the majority of women are not experiencing sexual dysfunction; we just haven't been given great sex education.
Myth #2: Oral or anal sex doesn't count as sex
It's interesting how there seems to be a hierarchy of sex behaviors. Consider the rationalization: I can have oral or anal sex but it's not really sex so I don't have to count it as having a sex partner. Or I can do this and still be considered a virgin. To complicate matters depending on who you ask that hierarchy may change.
All forms of sex are sex. They are all intimate personal behaviors with the capacity for great pleasure; if practiced without protection, the potential for certain negative outcomes too.
Myth #3: You would know if your partner has a sexually transmitted infection
In my eleventh grade health class our teacher showed us photos of penises and vulvas ravaged by sexually transmitted infections. I remember my fellow students squirming in their seats. "That's disgusting!" they screamed as they looked at images of cauliflower-like warts and oozing blisters. While on the surface it may sound like a great way to scare us out of any or all sexual activity, it didn't. What it actually did was incorrectly teach us that sexually transmitted infections have visible and quite grotesque symptoms.
They don't, most of the time. The fact is, you cannot tell if a partner has a sexually transmitted infection just by looking at their genitals. The only way to know for certain is for you and your partners to get tested.
Myth #4: If your doctor needed to talk to you about sex, he or she would bring it up
In addition to not having enough time for conversation, doctors don't always know how to bring up sex in their short time with you. In the last few years there has been some scientific discussion about about how our physicians lack the skills and confidence to talk to patients about sex.
In a study published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers at the University of Chicago Department of Medicine explored how (and if) 1,150 OBGYNs (people who are literally handling our sexual and reproductive body parts) were broaching issues of sexuality in their practices. Even within the field of obstetrics and gynecology, only 40% of physicians routinely asked about sexual problems; 28.5% asked about sexual satisfaction. Pleasure, sexual orientation and sexual identity were discussed even less than that.
In a 2010 study published in Academic Medicine, researchers explored how experience and medical school education impacted medical students' comfort in talking about sexuality. Over 53% of medical students felt that they did not receive enough training in how to approach issues of sexuality with patients. So it is clear that while sexual health should be a subject talked about in the doctor's office, it is sorely lacking
Myth #5: If you fantasize about other women or like lesbian pornography or erotica, you're definitely a closeted lesbian
No. But if you fantasize about other women and do identify as a lesbian, that's totally cool. Women have a myriad of fantasies--some of which may not fit the good girl image that people may have of us. Nonetheless, thinking about someone or something doesn't mean that you want to act it out in real life; it's possible, but not definite.
There are many heterosexual women who enjoy all sorts of lesbian erotica and pornography and are quite fulfilled by their heterosexual sex lives.
Myth #5/12: There are two types of female orgasms. Or maybe not. Who cares?
So maybe this isn't a myth, but rather, a frustrating social commentary. Science has devoted a lot of time to demystifying the female orgasm. We contest how many types of orgasms there are, whether or not they even exist, where they may or may not come from and their evolutionary purpose; we even question women's experiences with orgasm if theirs doesn't match ours.
While I do believe that science should explore all aspects of human sexuality, I often question how and why we choose to focus frequently on female orgasms. What this conversation does is delegitimize what many women experience. Orgasms are subjective and there is no one (no one) who will ever be able to know what you felt and how or where you felt it.