Myths and misconceptions about sexual health are surprisingly common. While over the decades there has been a shift towards more education on sex and reproductive health, it’s not always enough to debunk the popular myths surrounding intimacy, STIs, and reproductive health that many people still have.
Common areas of confusion when it comes to sexual health often surround the topics of STI transmission, sexual hygiene, and proper birth control methods. It’s no secret that more knowledge about sexual health can help people make the most informed and safe decisions when it comes to physical intimacy and their bodies.
Below are a few popular sex myths that people still get wrong, along with an infographic revealing what’s fact or fiction when it comes to sexual health.
You can find more myths and information on why each statement is false within this guide.
Myth: Douching is necessary to keep the vagina clean
Most doctors recommend that you do not douche, as douching can change the necessary balance of vaginal flora (bacteria that live in the vagina) and natural acidity in a healthy vagina.
Myth: Urinating after intercourse will not help prevent infections
It’s recommended to empty your bladder after having sexual intercourse to help flush out any bacteria that can get in your urethra as you have sex.
Myth: Infertility is much more common among women
In the United States, 10—15 percent of couples are infertile, and both men and women can equally contribute to infertility.
Myth: Men reach their sexual peak at a younger age than women
This is false. Sexual desire, performance, and frequency constantly fluctuate and are related to many factors beyond just your age.
Myth: Sperm can only live for a short time after it’s released
After ejaculation, a male’s sperm can actually live in the female reproductive tract for up to five days, even if you thoroughly wash yourself after sex.
Myth: You can’t get an STI from oral or anal sex
You can get an STI from any kind of sex (vaginal, oral, or anal).
Myth: STIs can only be transmitted when symptoms are present
In many cases, an STI may not cause symptoms, but can still exist in your body and be spread to sexual partners. Even without symptoms, STIs can be harmful for you or your partner’s health.
Myth: Men can’t get HPV
HPV is common among both men and women, and about 80% of people will get an HPV infection at some point in their lives.
Myth: You only need to worry about STIs if you have multiple partners
Any time you are sexually active, contracting and STI is a possibility. The best thing to do is make sure both you and your sexual partner(s) have been negative tests for STIs prior to intercourse.
Myth: You can get an STI from sitting on a toilet seat
STIs are transmitted through sexual intercourse, close intimate contact, or the exchange of bodily fluids – not through surfaces such as a toilet seat.