You're Never Too Old for Sex Education

7 common adult misperceptions about sex, debunked!

Posted Jun 11, 2014

Many adults have questions and concerns about sexuality that can be readily addressed in private consultation, classes, workshops, or in blogs like this one. This post debunks 7 common misperceptions:

  1. Any woman can experience orgasm through intercourse alone, if she has the right partner.  
  2. Sex in later life isn't as good.
  3. Condoms and/or personal lubricant ruin sexual pleasure.
  4. One partner should automatically know what another partner enjoys.
  5. Some people always find sex painful.
  6. You can tell whether someone has an STI.
  7. Masturbation is a second class alternative to partnered sex.

These misperceptions can be harmful emotionally, physically and/or socially.They can hold people back from fully enjoying sexual experiences, and in some cases, can prevent them from getting appropriate healthcare.

Let's take these one at a time:

  1. Female sexual anatomy is such that most women do not climax through penetrative sex alone; rather, they need direct clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. Some sex positions increase the odds that one part of a partner's body will provide sufficient clitoral contact, but a more reliable option is for either partner to manually stimulate the clitoris before, during, or after vaginal penetration.
  2. If you had a great sex life in your younger years, you're likely to have just as much sex in your later years. You may take longer to become aroused, but more sex play can be a very good thing! And if your past sex life was crummy, it's never too late to improve it.
  3. Condoms and personal lubricant can increase sexual pleasure, if you use a condom that is the right size, shape, and material. Lubricant can make everything from manual stimulation to penetration and masturbation more fun. Experiment to find the best condom and lube for your needs (remember, oil-based lubrication destroys Latex condoms, so opt for water-based or silicone lubes with Latex condoms.)
  4. Good partners communicate, regardless of whether they're having sex for the first time or the hundredth. Your new partner may hate the things that turned on your former partner, and a steady partner's needs may change over time. The only way you'll know is to ask. Be sure that your next sexual romp illustrates that you've been listening to your partner's suggestions.
  5. Sex shouldn't hurt...unless you enjoy consensual rough sex. Otherwise, if you experience pain during sex, do some detective work. Male and female sexual pain may be caused by inadequate arousal before penetrative sex; inadequate lubrication, low muscle tone or too-tight muscles, or health conditions ranging from sexually transmitted infection to vaginismus. If sex hurts -- and not in a fun way -- get checked by a healthcare provider. A sex educator can suggest creative sexual solutions for use while you're healing from a medical condition.
  6. Many sexually transmitted infections don't have physical symptoms, especially in males. The only way to know for sure whether you and a potential partner are positive or negative is to get tested. Once you have the test results, you can make an informed decision about whether and how to have sex.
  7. Most people who have regular sex partners also masturbate. It can be a stress-free way to experience sexual pleasure focused entirely on your needs and fantasies, with no responsibility for another person's pleasure. Partners who masturbate together can learn what brings each other pleasure.

Accurate information about sex is the best way to increase pleasure and sexual health. Get the answers you need to enjoy fun, safer sex.
Got a question? Send it to me, and I'll try to answer it in an upcoming post.

About the Author

Melanie Davis, MEd, PhD, CSE

Dr. Melanie Davis is a certified sexuality educator, professor, co-president of the Sexuality & Aging Consortium at Widener University, and author of “Look Within: A Woman’s Journal.”

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