Karla Ivankovich Ph.D., M.A.

Talk Dirty to Me

Sex

Sex Myths: Fact or Fiction?

In 2020, are we still perpetuating these crazy myths?

Posted Feb 06, 2020

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Myths or Facts?
Source: Shutterstock

Over the last several weeks, I have been working diligently to complete a book about sex and communication.  Among my favorite chapters was none other than "Myths about Sex."  With that in mind, I thought I would share with you, some of the crazy things still swirling around today.  Thanks to the internet, we can all be humored for another day.

Myth: You must turn off the lights to have sex.  

When you Google this, you come up with 640 million hits. Obviously, this myth is still going strong!

Fact: As interesting as this may be, millions of people have sexual intercourse every day and more than a few keep the lights on.  According to a study by North American lighting gurus, Osram Sylvania and cited in Glamour magazine, 60 percent of the people surveyed enjoy sex with the lights on while the remaining 40 percent prefer their sex to happen with the lights off.  So as to not keep you in the dark… please know that this claim is false.  Interestingly enough, the person who submitted this myth was kind enough to leave me with his fact on the topic.  “Fact: my ex hated seeing me naked.”

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Can soda prevent pregnancy?
Source: Shutterstock

Myth: Using Coca-Cola as an after-sex douche will prevent pregnancy.

When you Google this, you come up with 639,000 hits.

Fact: Where to even start with this one?  According to a 2000 edition of Snopes, the popular site dedicated to clearing up misinformation, this myth has been around since the 1950s. Crazy right?  While this seems like a "duh" moment, researchers took to their labs to test the claims.

The study was published in the in the New England Journal of Medicine and concluded Diet Coke, New Coke, caffeine-free New Coke and Classic Coke were all effective in killing at least some sperm however, Diet Coke came out the clear sperm killing champion. The researchers did note that douching with Coca-Cola after intercourse is not an effective contraceptive given that sperm can swim far faster than the time it takes to begin a Coca-Cola douche.  Not only might you get pregnant if you use this method, you are likely to end up with a nasty infection after!  I’ll pop on over to let you know… this claim is false!

I can’t end this fact section without pointing out the even more bizarre, in 1985, the researchers, Deborah Anderson and colleagues from Boston University, were actually awarded the IG Nobel prize from the magazine, Annals of Improbable Research, a program known for making people think, then laugh.  Kudos to them, they have succeeded.

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Pearly whites everyone?
Source: Shutterstock

Myth: Semen makes your teeth significantly whiter by reducing plaque and tartar.  

When you Google this, you come up with 5,960,000 hits.

Fact: With the number of sites posting some derivative of this statement as gospel, it is not surprising that this myth continues to be at the top of the list.  Personal and organizational blogs, internet articles even pop culture and women’s magazines have taken a stab at answering this question.  Drumroll, please.

According to Snopes, the American Dental Association has never put out a statement supporting the practice of using semen as a whitener for your teeth.  Semen does contain the nutrients Zinc and Calcium that promote healthy teeth however, the amount of semen it would take to be effective would be astronomical.  Specifically, Snopes reports:

“Semen contains (per 100 mL) about 17 mg of zinc and 30 mg of calcium, while the recommended daily intake of zinc is 8 mg for adult women and 11 mg for adult men. For calcium, the daily value for adult men and women is 1000 mg…given the average human male’s ejaculation produces around 3-4 ml of semen, so at the low end of that range, 16 to 22 ejaculations would be needed per day to supply the recommended daily intake of zinc, and 1,111 ejaculations to obtain the recommended daily intake of calcium.”

Find another way to make those pearly whites glisten, because this claim is completely false.  

And the last of these gems:

Myth: A woman cannot get pregnant while she is breastfeeding her baby.

When you Google this, you come up with 385 million hits. 

Fact: Many women who become pregnant celebrate the brief reprieve from their menstrual cycle during the months they are carrying their child in utero.  Those who breastfeed are also given a few months off from Aunt Flow coming to town. We have always been told, no period, no pregnancy equals no problem…right?  Not so fast, here's why: 

According to Irene Choi, MD:

“There are two primary hormones involved in breastfeeding, Prolactin (literally meaning "pro"-"lactation") and Oxytocin. Once the baby suckles the mother's nipples, a signal is released to the brain to release these hormones. Prolactin helps with milk production and oxytocin aids with milk secretion.”  

She goes on to say that this same suckling also affects the release of other hormones including GnRH (Gonadotrophin releasing hormone). GnRH is involved in regulating the hormones needed for the menstrual cycle. When GnRH is released continuously (as it is in breastfeeding), it actually provides a negative response and the ovaries/reproductive system fail to respond. For most women, this is what causes the delayed menstruation, postpartum women.

Choi does want to make it clear, however:

“This is not a fool-proof method of contraception. If the baby does not breastfeed exclusively or frequently, even as short of a gap as six hours, ovulation may occur. As the baby grows, the woman becomes naturally more fertile because the baby becomes more dependent on complementary foods and suckles less. This will re-orient the release of GnRH and ovulation can occur, even though menstruation has not yet.” 

When ovulation occurs, there is always a chance for conception. This claim is false.

While humorous for some, others will find insight in these words.  It is always best to check your facts!