9 Things We Used To Believe About Sex

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
Growing up, people get a lot of mixed messages about sex. Whether they hear about it from friends, siblings, teachers, parents, the media, or a combination of sources, it's easy to get the facts wrong. And unfortunately, it's all too common to be told the wrong info about sex right off the bat.

When we polled our readers about their sexual educations, nearly 20% of them said they learned something in sex ed that they later found out wasn't true — like, "It's easy for partners to 'get stuck,'" which, for the record, is very, very, false. Needless to say, we didn't grow into the well-adjusted adults we are today without having to leave behind some misconceptions about sex.

And since we know we're not alone, we asked women to tell us about the inaccurate things they once believed about sex. Some of these misconceptions came from a lack of understanding, while others were based on fears and anxieties about sex. Either way, we'd like to take this opportunity to move on from all of the falsehoods we once believed — and that might mean laughing at them, facepalming, or just simply forgetting them. Ahead, nine people share what they once believed about sex.

The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So, we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more, here.
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1 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"I thought you could get pregnant from humping with your clothes on."
2 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"For a while, I believed my vagina was made wrong. It didn't make sense to me that a penis would go inside of my vagina and that that friction and action would be so far away from the part where the pleasure would come from (the clitoris). I was like, 'My clit is in the wrong place! It's supposed to be lower! I will never like sex!' What a relief to realize we were all 'made wrong' and that I don't only get pleasure from my clit."
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3 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"I didn't realize how little I knew about sex when I started having it in college. A guy I hooked up with early on asked if he could 'get it from behind,' and I thought he meant anal, so I was like, 'NO!?!' It was honestly years later that I figured out he just wanted to try a different position."
4 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"Growing up with movies and TV shows, it made it seem like every moment was magical and fantastic, or even just always good. As I've gotten older, I've realized that sex is messy, imperfect, and definitely NOT always good."
5 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"I used to think sex involved drinking each other's pee. I have no idea where that came from and I most likely made it up in my head. To this day, I feel weirded out by my younger self."
6 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"The myth almost every girl at a young age hears or is told [about sex] is that it changes them. For a really long time, I was scared about sex, so I made a purity promise — not for religion, but because I thought it was a 'pass turn' card on becoming a different person. I eventually ditched it when I realized that was a nonsense idea and sex is a healthy desire and act. The truth is, consensual sex does not change you. Your virginity has nothing to do with your character. You're no better or worse of a person based on your sexual activity and sex life."
7 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"I used to think that being on hormonal birth control pills for long periods of time would make you less fertile. Thankfully, my doctor cleared that up for me."
8 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"I remember my older cousin telling me when I was super-young that, if I had sex, I would get herpes and die. She made me look at horrible Google images of it for proof. It scarred me so much that I got physically sick my first time having penetrative sex, which was not a good look at all.

"Unfortunately, my school's sex ed was no better on that myth. STIs were seen as dirty, rare, and a death sentence. Ironically enough, I contracted HSV-II from my long-term partner because of their cheating and lying about their test results. Even though it's an unfortunate circumstance, it made me realize just how dangerous the stigma against sexually transmitted diseases and infections are and just how ill-informed young people are because of the lack of proper health education."
9 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"In my single-sex, abstinence-only 'sex ed' class, our teacher was talking to us about the importance of waiting and said, 'Girls, that boy will want you to put his penis IN YOUR MOUTH.' I was 13. I thought, for a long while after that, that giving a blowjob was literally just putting a penis in your mouth and letting it sit there."
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