10 Common Sex Myths: Debunking What You Think You Know

8 minutes read -
A couple kissing
Table of Contents
Summary: Traditional thinking taught us some inaccurate things about sex. Dr. Amy Killen clears up the confusion with common sex myths many adults still believe.
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The G-spot, penis size, and even edible aphrodisiacs — there’s a long list of pervasive beliefs out there. The question is, which ones are sex myths and which ones are scientifically factual?

It seems traditional teachings aren’t wholly reliable. Many of them often leads to urban legends, like getting pregnant from floating semen in a hot tub or oral sex is safer than vaginal ones. Porn, erotic novels, and fornication in movies only muddy up the water.

Misinformation about how sexual pleasure works, “propagated by everyone from Sigmund Freud and Porn Hub,” has given many people a disadvantage, explains Dr. Amy Killen, anti-aging and regenerative physician who specializes in aesthetics and sexual medicine, in her The Science of Great Sex Quest on Mindvalley. “But,” she adds, “information is power.

So let’s take a closer look at some of the more common myths about sex with insights from Dr. Killen to help you learn the facts once and for all.

Myth 1: You Learned Everything You Need to Know About Sexual Health In Sex Ed

Other than “boys have penises and girls have vaginas,” it’s likely that many of us don’t remember much from sex ed class in school. “Even the best classes don’t teach you many of the things you’ll ultimately need to know,” says Dr. Killen.

In the United States, sex education is mandatory in only 39 states and Washington, D.C., according to data from Guttmacher Institute. The concerning part is, there aren’t any federal guidelines for this kind of education, and only 18 states require it to be medically accurate.

So you can see how not everything you need to know about sexual health comes from Sex Ed. “Because it’s not taught in school and not talked about in polite society,” Dr. Killen adds, “many people never learn how to stay sexually healthy.

Myth 2: Sexual Health and Reproductive Health Are the Same

While they’re both interrelated, sexual and reproductive health are not the same thing. Based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definitions, the two are characterized as follows:

  • Sexual health is not the absence of disease or dysfunction; rather, it’s a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires “a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences.
  • Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being in relation to the reproductive system, including its functions and processes. It implies that “people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so.

As Dr. Killen points out in her Quest, it’s possible to get pregnant with a healthy baby after a night of unprotected sex. And it’s also possible to have a thriving sex life without ever procreating.

Myth 3: The Most Important Sexual Organs Are the Genitals

If you’re anything like Friends’ Chandler Bing, chances are, you go straight to the nether regions. But if you’re anything like Joey Tribiani (or any of the other characters, for that matter), you know sex is more than that — much, much more than that.

Desire, arousal, AND orgasm all start in the brain, according to Dr. Killen. She explains, “It’s chemicals released in the brain, such as dopamine and oxytocin, that make us feel aroused and lead to the intense pleasure associated with orgasm.”  

The feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones help charge up sexual energy. Without them, sex would feel more like, as Dr. Killen puts it, “shaking someone’s hand or putting your foot in your shoe.

Myth 4: Sexual Health Isn’t Important If You Don’t Have a Partner

More than one million sexually transmitted infections are acquired every day around the world, as reported by the WHO. The majority of them are asymptomatic. In the U.S. alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis at the beginning of 2021 with the numbers continuing to rise.

It’s about keeping your body and mind well so that you’re ready for whatever comes your way.  And, it’s about enjoying what you have right here, right now, with or without the contributions and validation of another person.

— Dr. Amy Killen, trainer of Mindvalley’s The Science of Great Sex Quest

The thing many people tend to forget is that health, of any kind, isn’t about someone else. It’s about the individual. It’s about you…especially when it comes to sexual health.

Myth 5: Erections Only Happen In Penis Owners

There are plenty of sex facts and myths surrounding erections. Case in point: it’s a known fact that males get erections. What many don’t know is that females get them, too — it happens in the clitoris.

The penis and clitoris are similar in many ways,” says Dr. Killen. Both contain erectile tissue and are capable of getting erections.

Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge of human anatomy is the primary reason many aren’t familiar with this piece of information. For example, a 2019 study reveals that a third of the participants didn’t know what the clitoris was. (And it’s no wonder that many females end up wondering, “Why can’t I orgasm?”)

A couple engaging in intimate activities

Myth 6: Semen Retention Is Healthier Than Spilling It

Semen retention is the practice of not ejaculating for a period of time, even when having sex and orgasming,” explains Dr. Killen. However, it’s not the same as abstaining from sexual activity.

This concept is far from new. It’s actually part of some ancient practices with the belief that the loss of semen was thought to weaken a person. 

However, what does science say about semen retention? According to Dr. Killen, there’s no strong evidence that proves semen retention improves testosterone levels, sperm viability, or athletic performance. 

She provides plenty of research in her Mindvalley Quest that debunks this sex myth. One study, in particular, found that men over 40 who ejaculated at least four to five days per week had a 20-36% reduced rate of developing prostate cancer than those who ejaculated less often.

Myth 7: The Hymen Is “Poppable”

A common misconception about the female anatomy is that the hymen is something that covers the opening of the vagina and can be “popped,” resulting in the person “losing their virginity.” And according to Dr. Killen, there is so much wrong with this sentence.

So what is the hymen? And why does society make such a fuss over it?

The hymen is a very thin membrane near the opening of the vagina,” she explains. It was present before birth, but by the time the baby is born, the hymen typically exists “as a crescent or a ring shape around the edges.” Furthermore, many vaginas, she adds, have little to no hymen at all, even at birth.

The traditional societal preference for virgin wives has put made an intact hymen a desirable trait, as many cultures perceive it as a guarantor of virginity. However, the thin mucosal tissue can tear or stretch even with non-sexual activities, like vigorous exercise, riding a horse, or riding a bicycle.

Myth 8: You Don’t Have Control Over How Well Your Sexual Organs Work

When it comes to sex and sexual health, there are some problems that can arise. Things like the lack of desire, arousal, and orgasm, as well as pain during intercourse, all of which can contribute to sexual anxiety.

If there’s one thing Dr. Killen runs into often with her patients, it’s that they don’t believe they have the power to control how well their sexual organs work. Thankfully, that’s not the case — they have…we all have the power.

It’s up to you to decide how well your sexual organs age. Just as you have quite a bit of control over the health of your heart, your brain, your lungs, and your skin, you also have quite a bit of control over your penis, vagina, prostate, and clitoris.

— Dr. Amy Killen, trainer of Mindvalley’s The Science of Great Sex Quest

So if you’re looking to perform better, increase libido, or improve other sexual issues, best believe that you can. It’s important, though, to remember to seek medical advice from a professional should you have any questions related to your sexual function and health.

Myth 9: The Older You Get, the Less You’ll Have

There’s a great, big belief that sex declines with age — and that’s why it’s called a myth and not a fact. The truth of the matter is, sexual issues, like erectile dysfunction or sex after menopause, don’t necessarily spell out the end of your sexual explorations.

According to Dr. Killen, “how well your penis, vagina, or clitoris ages depends, quite a bit, on how well you take care of yourself.” And there are plenty of benefits to having sex on a regular basis; as you get older, those “feel good” factors still apply. 

In fact, studies have found older adults who’re sexually active tend to have better cognitive performance, have better relationships with their partners, and enjoy life more. This culminates in better mental health.

Myth 10: Sex Is a Performance

We’re often taught this notion that to have great sex, we have to perform well in the bedroom. Every sexual encounter has to be a kama sutra-inspired experience; a way to get the “Oh yes!’ and the “No, don’t stop!” on constant repeat.

Men, it’s not necessary. Women, this is not the way to awaken your inner sex goddess

The pressures of performing can lead people to do things that they really aren’t comfortable doing. And the language we use for sex — “perform” — can be why many of us are so hesitant to talk about the times we botched the “performance.”

Let’s stop thinking about sex as something we do in order to gain applause,” advises Dr. Killen. Instead, it should be “more as something we do to promote mutual enjoyment, connection, and health.

What Do You Want to Know About Sex? | Dr. Amy Killen

Great Sex Starts With Great Education

While sex myths can be amusing, they can absolutely be detrimental to one’s sexual health if it’s not debunked. Education in this area can not only reduce the rates of sexually transmitted diseases but ultimately promotes healthy relationships. 

That’s why continually educating yourself about sex is important. And you can do so with Dr. Amy Killen in her The Science of Great Sex Quest on Mindvalley. 

Not only will you learn science-based solutions to turn up the heat in the bedroom, but you’ll be provided with the tools and techniques that can help transform your sexual health and your overall well-being. 

The great thing is, when you sign up for a free Mindvalley account, you can preview the first few lessons to get a taste of what the Quest is all about. What’s more, you’ll have access to meditations that can support your journey of great sex.

As Dr. Killen says, “Even if you make a small change every day, it’s going to pay off in a big way for you.” And you can make your first small change with her Quest at Mindvalley.

Welcome in.

Watch the First Lesson of the Quest

A Science-Based Solution to Great Sex That Ignites Your Pleasure, Drive, and Satisfaction: In the Bedroom and in Life

Join this 11-day program with sexual medicine expert Dr. Amy Killen, and get science-based tools and techniques for transforming your sexual health - and your overall wellness and happinessGet started for free

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. With a background in spa and wellness as well as having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Written by

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. With a background in spa and wellness as well as having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
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Dr. Amy Killen is the trainer for Mindvalley’s The Science of Great Sex Quest. Her expertise lies in anti-aging and regenerative medicine as well as in aesthetics, platelet-rich plasma and stem cells, hair restoration, bio-identical hormones, nutrition, fitness, and sexual health.

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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

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To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.