Sex Myth Busters

DEBUNKING POPULAR MYTHS AND FOLKLORE

A large part of what we know (or think we know) about sex comes from our immediate family, friends, relatives, and the media. Unfortunately, this information is often based on an individual experience, local folklore, cultural values, or traditional customs; and is very likely to be an inaccurate or selective observation, an overgeneralization, or an illogical rationalization. In short, much of the information we receive about sex may be unreliable.

Whether or not these widespread misnomers have changed your behavior, perceptions, notions, or ideals, it is important to understand when these popular understandings are actually fact or just plain fiction. This article approaches each myth using dependable scientific literature.


POPULAR MYTHS AND FOKLORE

 

Myth #1

The size of a man’s penis is proportional to the size of his hands and/or feet—“big feet or hands equals a big penis.”

In Other Words

Is there a correlation between shoe and hand size with the length of a man’s penis?

Answer

Perhaps you have heard someone say, “I’m a shoe size 11—you know what that means, right?” Indicating there is some sort of relationship between shoe size and the length of a man’s penis. In short, the claim that there is a correlation between shoe size and penis length is false. A UK study showed that “there was no statistically significant correlation between shoe size and the stretched penile length… [Thus] the supposed association of penile length and shoe size has no scientific basis.”[i]

Similarly, you may have also heard someone say, “I have big hands—you know what that means, right?” Indicating there is some relationship between hand size and the length of a man’s penis. The answer to this is more complicated as studies have found evidence of a slight correlation between finger length and penis length; however, not to the point where they could accurately guess the size of a man’s penis based on their finger length.[ii] Researchers acknowledge these results are still inconclusive and in no way prove causality between the two variables.

 

Myth #2

A large amount of sex alters the shape and size of a woman’s vagina—“too much sex makes a female’s vagina loose.”

In Other Words

Will frequent sex alter the size/shape/tightness of a woman’s vagina?

Answer

Popular notions concerning vaginal tightness are often scientifically unfounded and are unfortunately carried with us all through life. As an article by Psychology Today explains, “Many people believe that (1) the virgin vagina is extremely tight, (2) that loss of virginity permanently loosens it, (3) that frequent sex loosens it further.”[iii] While these beliefs are widespread they are nevertheless riddled with inaccuracies. In fact, studies on female physiology reveal that the vaginal muscles are very much elastic, capable of relaxing and stretching, then tightening and contracting back to their original state.[iv] This means that the vaginal muscles are capable of stretching in response to particular circumstances, particularly sexual arousal, and then reverting back to their original state. In light of this, it’s concluded that a high frequency of sex will not stretch out the vaginal muscles and make the vagina “loose.”

 

Myth #3

Sexual pleasure is dependent on the size of a man’s penis.

In Other Words

Does a bigger penis mean increased satisfaction for their partner?

Answer

The amount of pleasure a person feels during sex is not necessarily dependent on the size of a man’s penis. Many people can have different feelings about this, as it is largely a matter of personal preference. While some may find that size itself is a major source of pleasure, it’s very likely not due to increased stimulation. In fact, the more sensitive areas on a person are located on the exterior of the body (like the frenulum in men and the clitoris in women), or just inches inside (like the g-spot in women or the prostate in men). Moreover, sexual pleasure and satisfaction is not solely derived from the physical act of coitus itself, rather other factors play a significant role as well. For example, having a strong emotional attachment with the other partner can increase the level of intimacy before, during, and after sex, which can influence how a person feels overall.

 

Myth #4

Laptop computers can lower a man’s sperm count.

In Other Words

Will using a laptop computer near a man’s testes make him infertile?

Answer

To a certain extent, laptop computers can affect the quality of a man’s sperm; however, it is very unlikely to make a man permanently infertile. An American study found that using a laptop computer near a man’s testes increases the scrotal temperature by a marginal one-degree Fahrenheit.[v] The study thus pointed out how heat-generating electrical devices can affect scrotal temperatures. Sperm production slows and is sometimes impaired at warmer temperatures and, it is possible that the heat created from laptop computers can temporarily have an impact on fertility. This study produced no conclusive evidence that laptop computers can, in fact, produce a significant amount of harm.[vi] Another study looked at the specific effect that laptop computers connected to the Internet through Wi-Fi have on sperm quality. Their results indicated that exposure of the testes to four hours of Wi-Fi-enabled computing significantly decreased progressive sperm motility and increased sperm DNA fragmentation.[vii] Researchers concluded, “keeping a laptop connected wirelessly to the Internet on the lap near the testes may result in decreased male fertility.”[viii] While researchers claim further studies are needed to validate these conclusions, for now it’s safe to say it’s best to limit the testes exposure to laptop computers in general. There is no need for alarm if a man does happen to use a laptop computer near the testes. If any damage did occur, it is only temporary, as males can regenerate sperm so the damaged ones can be ejaculated.

 

Myth #5

Circumcision ruins sex.

In Other Words

Does a having a circumcised penis decrease the sexual satisfaction or sensitivity during sex?

Answer

This is a question that is greatly debated among the public and has received a significant amount of attention from the scientific community. Studies underscore “the importance of the foreskin for penile sensitivity, overall sexual satisfaction, and penile functioning” by explaining how there is a difference between circumcised and uncircumcised men.[ix] The study shows us how circumcised men report decreased sexual pleasure, lower orgasm intensity, difficulty achieving orgasm, increased discomfort, and pain as compared with uncircumcised men.[x] While this may be so, it’s importantly noted that circumcision has also been proven to not impair the proper functioning of the penis. As an Australian study uniformly found, “circumcision had no overall adverse effects on penile sensitivity, sexual arousal, sexual sensation, erectile function, premature ejaculation, ejaculatory latency, orgasm difficulties, sexual satisfaction, pleasure, or pain during penetration.”[xi] In light of this we can underscore the important role of the foreskin, and equally emphasize how circumcision does not stop a man’s penis from functioning.

 

Myth #6

Men commonly engage in sexual intercourse for extended periods of time before cumming like they do in porn.

In Other Words

Is it common for men to engage in coitus for extended periods of time without ejaculating?

Answer

No, men do not engage in coitus for large amounts of time before coming. More often than not, what you see in pornography is a gross misrepresentation of sex and almost always depicts unrealistic visions of what happens in reality. This is also the case with depictions of how long the male can withhold ejaculation during coitus. A multinational study concluded the average time before ejaculation to be around 5.4 minutes, which differs significantly from what is most commonly seen in pornographic videos. [xii]

 

Myth #7

Smoking marijuana has a negative impact on semen quality.

In Other Words

Does smoking marijuana lower a man’s sperm count?

Answer

Many studies on the effects of marijuana on sperm quality generally agree that smoking marijuana on a regular basis does have a negative impact on sperm concentration in semen. In one specific study, researchers found that regular marijuana smoking (more than once per week) was associated with a 28% lower sperm count. [xiii]

 

 

Myth #8

Drinking pineapple juice makes semen taste better.

In Other Words

Will drinking fruit juices (notably pineapple juice) alter the taste of semen and make it sweeter?

Answer

There is no conclusive scientific evidence showing that drinking fruit juices will alter the taste of a man’s semen. However, an article on Psychology Today mentions that while it’s very unlikely for the taste of semen to drastically change based on dietary habits; some people maintain that semen taste does indeed change from person-to-person based on their diet.[xiv] For example, Psychology Today explains “former porn actress, Annie Sprinkle, who tasted hundreds of men's semen, says vegetarians taste best, that eating fruit and drinking fruit juices a few hours before sex improves the taste, and that smoking, consuming alcohol, meats, and asparagus make semen less palatable.”[xv]

 

 

Myth #9

The bigger the penis, the better.

In Other Words

Does a female partner typically prefer a longer, girthier penis?

Answer

This is often a concern for heterosexual men who wonder whether they have what women are looking for. Of course, this is a matter of personal preference, and thus there is no exact answer to this. However, thanks to a recent American study using 3D printed models of different penis sizes and shapes, we do have a rough idea of what the answer might be. Researchers conducted a study to examine women’s preferences for erect penis sizes. Results show that “women preferred a penis of [a] slightly larger circumference (circumference = 5.0 inches/12.7 cm) and length (length = 6.4 inches/16.3 cm) for one-time, versus long-term sexual partners (length = 6.3 inches/16.0 cm, circumference = 4.8 inches/12.2 cm).[xvi]  Researchers concluded that women on average prefer penises only slightly larger than average, which contradicts the idea that bigger is better, particularly when compared to depictions in pornographic material.  

 

 

[i]  Shah, J. Christopher, N. (2002). Can shoe size predict penile length? BJU International: Vol. 90; Pp. 586-87

[ii]  Davarci, Mursel. et. al. (2012). A new anthropometric measurement of penile length and its relation to second and fourth digital lengths. Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences: Vol. 42, No. 3; Pp. 539-44

[iii] Castleman, Michael. (2011). The Rare Truth About "Tight" and "Loose" Women. Psychology Today. Online

[iv] Castleman, Michael. (2011). The Rare Truth About "Tight" and "Loose" Women. Psychology Today. Online

[v]   Medical memo: Hot Seats, laptops, and sperm. Harvard Men’s Health Watch: January, 2010; Pp. 6

[vi]  Medical memo: Hot Seats, laptops, and sperm. Harvard Men’s Health Watch: January, 2010; Pp. 6

[vii]  Avendano, Conrado. et. al. (2012). Use of laptop computers connected to Internet through Wi-Fi decreases human sperm motility and increases sperm DNA fragmentation. Fertility and Sterility: Vol. 97, No. 1

[viii] Avendano, Conrado. et. al. (2012). Use of laptop computers connected to Internet through Wi-Fi decreases human sperm motility and increases sperm DNA fragmentation. Fertility and Sterility: Vol. 97, No. 1

[ix]  Bronselaer, Guy A. et al. (2013). Male circumcision decreases penile sensitivity as measured in a large cohort. BJU International: Vol. 111; Pp. 820-27

[x]   Bronselaer, Guy A. et al. (2013). Male circumcision decreases penile sensitivity as measured in a large cohort. BJU International: Vol. 111; Pp. 820-27

[xi]  Morris, Brian J. Krieger, John N. (2013). Does Male Circumcision Affect Sexual Function, Sensitivity, or Satisfaction?—A Systematic Review. International Society for Sexual Medicine: Vol. 10; Pp. 2644–2657

[xii]  Waldinger MD. et. al. (2005). A multinational population survey of intravaginal ejaculation latency time. J Sex Med: Vol. 2, No. 4; Pp. 492-7

[xiii] Gundersen, Tina D. et. al. (2015). Association Between Use of Marijuana and Male Reproductive Hormones and Semen Quality: A Study Among 1,215 Healthy Young Men. American Journal of Epidemiology: Vol. 182, No. 6

[xiv] Castleman, Michael. (2009). How to Improve the Taste of Semen. Psychology Today. Online

[xv]  Castleman, Michael. (2009). How to Improve the Taste of Semen. Psychology Today. Online

[xvi] Prause N, Park J, Leung S, Miller G (2015) Women's Preferences for Penis Size: A New Research Method Using Selection among 3D Models. PLoS ONE: Vol. 10, No. 9

 

Last Updated 21/3/2016.

 

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