30 Sex Myths We Need To Stop Believing

Many of us have probably had bad, inaccurate information about sex drilled into our minds at some point in our lives — whether it came from a well-meaning but uninformed friend or somewhere in the vast abyss of the internet.

There are so many sex myths out there that it can be daunting to attempt to separate fact from fiction. Can you really get pregnant on your period? Will your birth control make you more likely to be depressed?

That's where we step in. Here at Refinery29, we're all about sex positivity — and that includes being educated about sex. After all, healthy sexual experiences begin with being able to debunk the damaging myths you've been taught to believe.

Without further ado, here are 30 myths about sex that we need to stop believing.

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.
Advertisement
1 of 30
Photographed by Megan Madden.
Myth: Female ejaculation and “squirting” are the same thing.

Fact: "Though we often use these terms [ejaculation and squirting] interchangeably, they are not the same thing," says Logan Levkoff, MD. Squirting, she says, is “that gush of fluid that comes out of the urethra,” which, yes, technically consists mostly of urine.

On the other hand, female ejaculate comes from the vagina and is thicker and milkier — and, Levkoff adds, “pretty similar to semen, without the sperm."
2 of 30
Photographed by Kate Anglestein.
Myth: Losing your virginity has to involve getting your “cherry popped” via penetration by a penis.

Fact: Not all of us are heterosexual, and virginity means different things to different people. For queer women in particular, penetration by a penis isn’t always a part of the equation. As one woman told us, "I don't have to define what I experience or make it a big thing — and I love that."
Advertisement
3 of 30
Photographed by Megan Madden.
Myth: When it comes to penises, bigger is better.

Fact: Actually, there are a few studies out there that suggest that, other than giving the penis-haver a potential confidence boost, a bigger penis doesn’t necessarily mean better sex for that person's partners.

But for what it’s worth, we’ve got the perfect guides for sex positions that will provide deep penetration for penises of any size.
4 of 30
Photographed by Megan Madden.
Myth: You can’t get pregnant on your period.

Fact: You can, but it’s pretty unlikely, thanks to the way your menstrual cycle works. Still, it’s best to make use of birth control and/or sexual barriers if you’re not planning on getting pregnant (and want to avoid getting an STI).
5 of 30
Photographed by Tayler Smith.
Myth: Plan B won’t work for you if you’re over a certain weight limit.

Fact: It’s a lot more complicated than that. Plan B isn’t perfect, and doesn’t always work, but there are several other factors that can play into its efficacy. Long story short: The evidence for weight’s effect on Plan B’s effectiveness isn’t conclusive, and Alison Edelman, MD, at Oregon Health & Science University, told us that the absolute best contraceptive for women of all weights is the IUD.
6 of 30
Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Myth: Every woman is capable of having multiple orgasms.

Fact: Sheesh, what a huge amount of pressure to put on all of us. Women are capable of having between five and seven orgasms in row, but it doesn’t happen for everyone every single time (or ever).

Since the clitoris is so sensitive, it can be overstimulated and become less responsive after the first orgasm. Plus, fatigue and discomfort are also factors that can inhibit multiple orgasms.
7 of 30
Photographed by Megan Madden.
Myth: You only need lubricant if you can’t self-lubricate enough.

Fact: You might not need lube, but it can make your life so much easier and more comfortable. With all the different kinds of lube out there, you’re sure to find something you’ll like.
Advertisement
8 of 30
Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Myth: The sore in or around your mouth is definitely herpes.

Fact: Don’t panic yet — that bump could also be a canker sore, which occurs when you’ve accidentally bitten or brushed your gums or cheek too hard. The key difference is that canker sores appear only on the inside of the mouth. Here are some other ways you can tell canker sores from cold sores.
9 of 30
Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Myth: Sexting is only for long-distance relationships.

Fact: Sending a sexy text is exciting, whether you and your partner are miles apart or living in the same city. It can be a fun, relatively easy way to build the anticipation during your work day before you see each other. Afraid you’ll get tongue-tied? Try a few of our sample sexts.
10 of 30
Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Myth: There’s a benchmark for how often you should be having sex.

Fact: You should be having sex as often as you like. "I know it’s almost impossible to read statistics about how often people have sex, on average, and not feel like that’s some kind of benchmark for how often we should be having sex, too," Emily Nagoski, sex educator and author of the book Come As You Are, told us last year.

"But, think about it for a second. Are we really going to decide to have sex once a week, or once a month, or once a day, no matter what, because that’s how often people have sex on average?"

"Desire fluctuates with context," she added. "You should have sex as often as works for your relationship and your life. Forget about other people’s sex lives — they have nothing to do with what feels satisfying to you."
11 of 30
Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
Myth: Sex should always be spontaneous.

Fact: Not always. Spontaneous, passionate sex is fun, but planning to have sex isn’t weird at all.

As Nagoski put it, "Do you set up play dates for your friends to come over so you can make sno-cones together? Or does [that machine] sit on the shelf, collecting dust, while you wait for the fortuitous moment when your friend drops by for a visit and you both happen to be in the mood for sno-cones?"
12 of 30
Photographed by Megan Madden.
Myth: If you’re going to get into anal play, you need numbing cream.

Fact: “Look, there are no shortcuts,” writer and sex toy store owner Zoe Ligon says. “Pain and discomfort are the body’s natural signals that you need to slow down, and if you’ve blocked your ability to feel those sensations, you may injure yourself.”
Advertisement
13 of 30
Photographed by Megan Madden.
Myth: All you’ll need for anal sex is a bottle of lube and a condom.

Fact: Anal sex isn’t always as easy as it looks in porn. In reality, you’ll want to prepare yourself a little beforehand — that could mean trying anal beads, rimming plugs, vibrators, and even dildos.
14 of 30
Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Myth: All phone sex involves is talking dirty while on the phone.

Fact: “People think it's just talking dirty on the phone,” phone-sex operator Jenny Ainslie-Turner told us. “What a lot of people don't realize is that the brain is the biggest sexual organ in the body. When you talk, breathe heavy, or moan, you’re doing this through a direct line to the brain.”
15 of 30
Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Myth: Foreplay is overrated.

Fact: Don’t discount the merits of buildup — foreplay, done right, can be mind-blowing. Take a look at some of our tips and find out for yourself.
16 of 30
Photographed by Danny McCoy.
Myth: The key to an orgasm is stimulation, stimulation, stimulation.

Fact: While that can be true, sometimes it’s best to go easy. Clitoral over-stimulation can lead to pain, so when in doubt, stroke, rather than rub, at your clit.
17 of 30
Photographed by Megan Madden
Myth: Clitoral or vaginal stimulation are the only ways to get an orgasm.

Fact: Believe it or not, there are 12 different types of orgasms. Find out what they are and how to achieve them here.
Advertisement
18 of 30
Photographed by Lauren Perlstein
Myth: You can break a penis.

Fact: There aren’t any bones in the penis, so you can’t exactly break it, but you can fracture it. This is pretty rare, but fractures are most likely to happen during penetrative intercourse if the person being penetrated is on top.
19 of 30
Photographed by Isa Wipfli.
Myth: Asexual people don’t feel sexual arousal, period.

Fact: Actually, asexuality is a spectrum, and there’s a lot of diversity within the asexual community. Asexuality is defined as not experiencing sexual attraction toward others — and that doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of sexual arousal as a whole.
20 of 30
Photographed by Megan Madden.
Myth: You can’t use the same sex toy with multiple partners.

Fact: You can, but you’ll obviously want to take precautions to avoid STIs.

“Any time semen, vaginal secretions, or fluids from STI sores are transferred to someone else’s body — via vaginas, penises, fingers, and yes, sex toys — STIs can be spread,” Planned Parenthood has told us.

But you don’t have to run out and buy a new toy each time — after all, they can be expensive. Here’s how you can use the same toys with multiple partners.
21 of 30
Photographed by Tayler Smith
Myth: Pulling out doesn’t work, period.

Fact: It’s not necessarily that the pull-out method doesn’t work as a concept, it’s that pulling out at exactly the right moment can be difficult. However, pulling out is still better than nothing.
22 of 30
Photographed by Megan Madden.
Myth: Condoms are your only option for sexual barrier contraception.

Fact: There are, in fact, several other lesser-known sexual barriers, including dental dams and cervical caps. Of course, the choice is up to you — just know that condoms aren’t the be-all, end-all.
Advertisement
23 of 30
Photographed by Megan Madden.
Myth: Hormonal birth control causes depression.

Fact: The thing is, when it comes to the hormones in your body, it’s never that simple. Sure, there’s evidence that altering your hormonal balance (which the pill can do) could affect your mood. However, different people will react differently to different medications and hormones, and what works for one person might not work for another.

If your hormonal BC is causing you emotional distress, check with your doctor as soon as possible. But don’t rule out the pill completely — there are risks to pretty much every form of birth control, and this is just one of them.
24 of 30
Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Myth: Sex is impossible during late pregnancy.

Fact: Intercourse can definitely become uncomfortable during the later stages of pregnancy, but there are some sex positions and tricks to make it a little easier.
25 of 30
Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Myth: If you’re in a secure, long-term relationship, you can ditch condoms with no problem.

Fact:
A lot of couples will come to this point in their relationships — but it takes a little more preparation than you might think. If you and your partner want to stop using condoms, here are some things you might want to consider first.
26 of 30
Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Myth: If you want to get pregnant faster, missionary is the way to go.

Fact: The missionary position won’t hurt your chances of getting pregnant, but there’s also no evidence that it’s what works best. The idea behind this theory is that this position makes it easier for the sperm to seek out the egg, but sperm will seek out eggs no matter what position you’re in.
27 of 30
Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Myth: Sex therapy is only for couples who have a hard time getting it on together.

Fact: Actually, there are lots of reasons that sex therapy might be helpful — whether you and your partner are constantly bickering or trying to move forward after one partner has cheated.
Advertisement
28 of 30
Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Myth: “Blue balls” only happens to those who have penises.

Fact: This also happens with vaginas, and it's aptly termed “blue vulva.”
29 of 30
Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Myth: Sex after childbirth will be easy-peasy once your doctor gives you the okay.

Fact: There are a few factors that might make sex more difficult after giving birth. For example, you might not self-lubricate as much as you used to, even if you’re super aroused.
30 of 30
Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Myth: You can’t get pregnant from pre-cum.

Fact: There’s actually a slight chance you can get pregnant from pre-cum, the clear liquid that comes out of the male urethra before the ejaculate. While pre-cum doesn’t contain sperm, it could push sperm that was still in the urethra from a previous ejaculation to the tip of the penis.

However, urinating usually clears the urethra of any sperm, which is why this is pretty rare. It can happen, though, so if you want to avoid pregnancy, it’s best to play it safe.
Advertisement

More from Sex & Relationships

Watch

R29 Original Series