Humans are notorious for being sexually misinformed. Even more amusing is our love of intriguing sex myths. Whether partly fact or all-out fiction, we take great delight in spreading a good sex rumor. Not nearly as funny, though, is the trouble we run into when these fascinating fallacies become the standard by which we conduct our love lives. So how do you know if what you know about sex is really true?
While there's no end to the number of sex myths, I’ve tackled five of the most popular in circulation for your “sexpertise.” I chose these because part of what makes them so much fun to dissect is that they are so believable. As you’re about to learn, however, beliefs that seemingly make sense are not necessarily so.
1.) Sex before the big game can hinder your performance.
It has been routine for coaches in most sports to ban their players from having sex the night before the big match. Their logic: you’re conserving energy and boosting your aggression for a stronger athletic performance. World champion boxers have traditionally claimed that they abstained from sex for weeks before a major fight, so it’s hard to argue that there isn’t a payoff.
Research has found, however, that sex before the big game does not impair athletic performance. A study from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., found that men performed as well on a treadmill endurance test the morning after sex as they did the morning after abstaining from it.
As far as aggression goes, Italian scientists have suggested that the increased levels of testosterone that come with sexual activity may actually lead to higher rates of aggression the next day — improving one’s athletic performance.
In all fairness, it should be pointed out that the psychological effect of sex on the eve of a match has not been tested. While some athletes may be completely unaffected by sexual activity, sports experts have mentioned concentration as a concerning casualty of pre-game copulation.
2.) Men reach their sexual peak at 18, while women reach it in their mid-30's.
In sorting through this myth, what you need to keep in mind is that peaks are misleading. Peaking hormones do not necessarily make for a peak performance. Furthermore, physical and sexual primes are not one in the same. While a man’s testosterone peaks at age 18, he’s likely not having the best sex of his life as a teenager. Sure, his physiological reactions are to envy, but it is usually with age that people are more interested in and capable of intimacy. As almost any older, wiser fellow will tell you, the ability to go beyond the physical gratifications of sex is what opens the doors for out of this world orgasms and lovemaking experiences.
When it comes to women, we haven’t chalked up her “best” based on what’s going on with her biologically (her estrogen levels actually hit a high point in her mid-20s) rather what’s going on with her socially. Women in their 30s, typically, find themselves in long-term, monogamous relationships, particularly marriage. Therefore, with society giving her permission to be sexually active because she’s in a serious relationship, many women find themselves finally letting loose and embracing their sexuality during this time. Still, many sage ladies will tell you that the best sex is yet to come.
So what can you take away from this? Don’t let preconceived notions trump your game at any age. Peaks vary from person to person, with most people realizing their full passion potential in their ability to feel more sexually secure with themselves and their partners.
3.) Drinking alcohol makes for better sex.
Alcohol has long been considered an aphrodisiac. Since ancient times, humans have hailed — or been horrified — by alcohol’s power to supposedly induce and enhance sexual pleasure. Liquor makes for lust, libido and love, right?
Alcohol in small amounts can increase one’s sex drive and interest, as well as decrease sexual inhibitions. By small amounts, I mean no more than one or two drinks. Anything more than that can actually foil your efforts since alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol dulls the higher brain functions that normally control or inhibit sexual impulses, impairing your judgment. Furthermore, while booze may increase your sexual desire, it decreases your ability to perform, negatively impacting your sexual response.
4.) Love is all you need for mind-blowing sex.
While it sounds nice, all you need is love doesn’t cut it when it comes to sexual gratification. Sure, being in love and having strong feelings for your partner makes for a much better experience, but that doesn’t translate into hot orgasmic sex.
Crazy about each other, many couples have been stumped and confused that the sex they’re having isn’t nearly as sizzling as their romance. What they need to understand is that the ultimate in lovemaking is realized through communication more than anything. Lovers need to discuss and explore what turns them on, how they like to be touched and which activities they prefer. Lovers need to realize that learning to play each other can be a lot like mastering an instrument. It’s going to take some practice, hard work, doting, and patience before the music is perfect and sweet.
5.) Singles have more sex than couples.
While we tend to think that it’s the freewheelin’ singles having the most sex, those who are married or living together take the trophy on this one. This boils down to two things: Investment and accessibility.
First, research shows that the frequency of sex declines with the more sex partners you’re juggling. This is because it can take a lot of time and energy to woo somebody into bed. With one of you and so many of them, there’s only so much you can do
Second, while some of you may beg to differ, you’re going to have the optimal amount of sex possible if you’re living with your partner. Better yet, you’re having more luscious lovemaking than the singles. With married couples in particular having higher quality sex, according to research, because such relationships usually offer up key components to sexual exploration and pleasuring: Trust and connection.
In the Know Sex News …
— HIV arrests horrify. Egyptian men have been arrested and chained to hospital beds before being forced to undergo HIV tests. In a joint press release, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International expressed concern over this violation. Considered a threat to public health, it is feared that these arrests will deter anyone from seeking out HIV prevention information or treatment. Egypt’s mistreatment of homosexuals, an orientation that can be punished under several different laws in that country, is also raising major concerns internationally.
— Matter of free speech? Nine people have been arrested in Hong Kong for publishing obscene materials of Asia’s best-known pop stars on the Internet, inciting fury from Web users. Citing police action as an infringement on individual freedoms, more than 400 people recently protested Hong Kong’s anti-pornography ordinance. Still, many are unsure if the greater issue is free speech or the selective police enforcement of obscenity laws.
— Twenty years and nothing to show. While efforts to develop an HIV vaccine continue after two decades of efforts, scientists are no closer to getting a handle on controlling HIV. Attempts to control the virus by bolstering the body’s immune system or through antibodies have failed, leaving the vaccine community discouraged. They’re plugging on, however, and are now embarking on gene and stem cell therapy as ways to combat the virus.
Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."