Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Hi friends! In this week’s column, the SHCs are taking a slightly different approach. We’re not addressing a specific question about sexual health. Instead, we’re taking on some myths about sex—some more well-known than others—and trying to set the record straight. Keep reading and you just might find out something you didn’t know before!
MYTH #1: All women can orgasm from vaginal penetration.
As a matter of fact, only about a third of women will experience an orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. This “vaginal orgasm” is linked to the G-spot, an especially sensitive area located about 1-3 inches inside a woman’s vagina. Some experts even argue that the inside of the vagina is in fact an extension of the clitoris, and for some women, vaginal penetration—by a sex toy, penis, or finger—stimulates this sensitive area and causes them to orgasm. A large number of women, however, do not orgasm from penetration alone; they also need direct, external clitoral stimulation. Trying different positions in sex can help some women reach an orgasm, if they are having penetrative sex with a man. Many women prefer when their partner uses their fingers, tongue, or a sex toy like a vibrator to stimulate the clitoris and help them achieve orgasm. Different kinds of stimulation are more or less pleasurable for different women. It’s important to remember, too, that sex—of any kind—doesn’t have to involve orgasm at all; achieving an orgasm doesn’t have to be the “point.” You and your partner can try out various kinds of penetration and touch; whether or not you experience an orgasm, you can at least have fun trying!
MYTH #2: Two condoms are better than one.
If you’re playing with hazardous chemicals, lots of layers are good, because that extra pair of socks just might keep 12 molar sulfuric acid from burning into your foot. If you’re having penetrative sex, though, layering is NOT such a good idea. Regardless of whether the condoms are male or female, “double-bagging it” actually increases the chances a condom will break. Penetrative sex involves a lot of movement and a lot of friction, which means that two condoms will rub up against each other. Even if you use a lot of lube, they will still rub up against each other, and the resulting friction could cause the condoms to break. This would increase the chances of STI transmission and/or pregnancy, and kind of defeats the purpose of using a condom in the first place. Please, don’t use two condoms at once—save one for later, and spare yourself the risks.
MYTH #3: A woman will never get pregnant during her period.
This is kind of a tricky question…the truth is really that it depends on the woman. In general, women are most fertile during the few days before and after ovulation, usually about two weeks after menstruation begins. This does not mean that she can’t get pregnant during other periods of her cycle, however! Each woman’s cycle is different, and it’s hard to know exactly when ovulation occurs relative to a woman’s period, especially if she has an irregular cycle. Sometimes, the period of “peak fertility” can overlap with a woman’s period. It’s hard to say the chances that a specific woman could get pregnant during her period without a record of details like her basal body temperature and cervical mucus. At best we can say women in general are less likely to get pregnant during menstruation, but it is still possible, and an individual woman’s own cycle of fertility will determine the chances. (This is all assuming that a woman is not using some form of hormonal birth control. If she is using it correctly and is successfully preventing ovulation, she will not become pregnant from unprotected vaginal sex with a male partner, even when she is on her period.)
MYTH #4: All gay men have anal sex.
There is no connection between being gay and having anal sex—many straight men and women enjoy anal sex, while many gay men do not. In fact, studies have shown that a significant proportion of the gay male population does not engage in anal sex, and their partners are absolutely okay with that. There are a wide variety of reasons men choose not to have anal sex, ranging from finding it gross to merely not finding it very pleasurable. Gay men engage in many kinds of sexual behaviors other than anal sex, from mutual masturbation to kissing to oral sex. Whatever is comfortable and pleasurable and fun is what’s right for you!
That’s all the myths we’re covering this week! If you’ve got favorite myths you want debunked, or just a question you want answered, feel free to contact me or any of the SHCs! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or talk to us in person. Remember, everything is completely confidential!
Laura and the SHCs