OK, class, we’re going to have to act like grown-ups (or at least try to) on this one while still channeling that inner elementary school playground self that heard a bevy of myths about our private parts. When you think about it, none of those stories should have been believed because 12-year-old boys are simply not good sources for any kind of information.
Men have penises, women have vaginas. Get the laughing out of your system. Yes, we know you’re familiar with a dozen slang words for each, but you’re not going to find them here. Humor is often used to deal with uncomfortable subjects and for many people, sex ranks right up there. We’re going to try to keep this as clinical as possible, but it is sex, so forgive us the occasional pun. They're hard to avoid.
Because of the taboo nature of frank sexual discussions, most people are ignorant when it comes not only to sexual health but to their sex organs. At best, these can lead to wrong assumptions and at worse can lead to serious health problems. When you look at it from a completely clinical point of view, your genitals are just another part of your body that has the unique job of dispelling waste and playing a major part in reproduction.
There are enough myths to fill a dozen lists, but we’re going to tackle some of the most common and some of the most outrageous here. Hopefully you learn something. Here are some quickies: A loose vagina actually means nothing, most sperm is deformed but has nothing to do with size or appearance of the penis, women can get pregnant on their period and most women can’t orgasm through vaginal sex alone. OK, those are four, here are another 15 Myths About Our Private Parts.
15 A woman needs to have a “cherry” to be a virgin
Some women are born with a hymen. This is a thin membrane across the opening of the vaginal canal that was wrongly synonymous with virginity in the early part of the 20th Century. Now, though, we know some women are born without, or born with partial hymens. We also know that athletic activity can easily cause the hymen to tear. Furthermore, we also know that if a woman has a hymen at the time of her first sexual encounter, it doesn’t necessarily tear. The phrase “popping a cherry” is not only crude, it’s completely incorrect. The idea that if a woman doesn’t bleed the first time she has sex means it isn’t actually the first time is a fallacy. Gentlemen, no more drawing conclusions and women, no more having to explain yourself if somebody doubts you. It’s not 1923. Stop perpetuating myths that should have died with your great-grandparents.
14 The average erect male member is eight inches
Here’s a fascinating statistic: Almost half of all men reported that they believed their penis was smaller than the average, but it made no difference the actual length of their phallus in reaching this conclusion. In the Journal of Sexual Medicine, 1,661 men were surveyed and it was discovered while men and women seem to believe the average erect penis length is eight inches, they are about 2.5 inches off. The average male member is 5.56 inches when erect. The study interviewed men who sported equipment between 1.6 and 10.2 inches long. What we wonder is if the men were surveyed simply with a question-and-answer session or if they had to prove anything. If researchers took their word for it, we’re guessing the real truth might be smaller. OK men, once you’re done with your ruler, come back and finish the rest of this list.
13 Intercourse is "risky"
We’ll stay away from the debate that oral sex is or isn’t real sex, but what we won’t stay away from is the myth that it is somehow safer than vaginal, or anal, sex. The only riskier thing about vaginal sex is the chance of pregnancy. When it comes to sexually transmitted infections, there is no data suggesting oral or anal sex is safer than vaginal sex. There are actually times when oral sex can be riskier, such as after brushing teeth. How many times have you brushed your teeth and seen a little blood? As for anal sex, skin inside the anus can be torn, leading to blood becoming part of the mix. We’re not telling you what kind of sex to engage in, we’re just saying it can all be risky. Take precautions if you’re going to be engaging in sexual behavior.
12 Night-time erections mean something
When a doctor asks a man if he has nighttime erections, it isn’t to learn if he has secret dirty thoughts. It doesn’t matter if you’re an adult star or a monk, the penis is an organ of the male human body and like all other organs, it reacts the way it does not because of morality, but because of it’s just the way things work. Most men have somewhere between three and six erections every night, usually in the deepest phase of sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement) we associate with dreaming. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they are dreaming about, it just happens with men. The theory how the body evolved to this point makes sense. Penises behave this way because without frequent erections, they may shrink and lose elasticity, especially as men get older. It also indicates if erectile dysfunction may be an issue.
11 Women don’t touch “down there”
Jokes about men masturbating are commonplace on just about every prime time sitcom and if you want to go for the big joke, imply that a woman may do such a thing! Well, it shouldn’t be a bigger laugh because while it may not happen as often with women, it happens with almost as many. The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior interviewed 2,929 women and found that 80 percent of women in their 30s have masturbated at least once in their lives. It’s not a new trend either since almost 60 percent of women over 70 years old reported the same thing. Yes, percentages for men go into the high 80s and lower 90s, but is this only because it’s more socially acceptable to admit to it? Yes, women report much less frequent masturbation than men, but 25 percent of women in their 30s said they partook at least once per week.
10 Size doesn’t matter
Wait...does that mean size does matter? Yes, it turns out the “myth” that tried to dispel the “myth” isn’t actually a myth. Size does matter to a large number of women. In a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine published in 2012, the bottom line for women interviewed was that many of those who have orgasms find it is easier to achieve them with a man who has a longer penis. Thirty-four percent of the women surveyed said size does indeed matter, although 60 percent did say it wasn’t a factor. A study done later by a Scottish group found size mattered in proportion to height. Taller guys needed taller members for a woman to reach orgasm. Some scientists disagree with these kinds of studies though, citing the fact the average woman's vagina is three to four inches deep. Oh, we might as well toss it in here...the largest penis ever verified by doctors was 13.5 inches long.
9 We all start as women
Fetuses all start with female sexual organs, or more specifically, a clitoris. All human beings as embryos and each embryo has a set of male or female gender-specific chromosomes, but they don’t activate immediately. Prior to hormones like testosterone being generated, all fetuses are essentially female in that maleness has not altered the path the fetus is taken. If those “male” hormones don’t kick in, you’re getting a little girl nine months later. Even the manliest of men started their development as a female. Here’s another interesting associated fact you can impress your friends with at the dinner table: Ultrasound scans have proven that male fetuses have erections while in the womb. Not only are they a frequent occurrence, but many males are born with erections or develop them immediately after entering the world. William Masters of famed sexologist team Masters and Johnson actually once joked about trying to cut umbilical cords before an erection would happen. We don’t get the joke, but it’s nice to know men have always been this way.
8 Women's privates are magical in Zimbabwe
This is crazy, but it’s also tragic. According to the BBC, men in Zimbabwe who carry diseases of the blood, like AIDS, can be cured if they have sex with a virgin. The idea is that someone who is pure can cleanse the blood of an infected person. Unfortunately, what this means is that many females - they’re too young to be called women - get raped at a young age and infected with disease. Over the last ten years, an organization called Girl Child Network has been working to take care of girls who have been raped and shunned by their families. Some of the stories of these girls are heartbreaking. The GCN is also traveling through Zimbabwe giving lectures and spreading education that a virgin cannot cure any disease. It is believed that these practices originated with faith healers but GCN now believes it’s more about some Zimbabwe men finding an excuse for rape.
7 Only homosexuals fondle their gender’s private parts
There was an article in the New York Times about 10 years ago that raised the ire of not only the LGBTQ community, but sex researchers as well saying that bisexuality did not exist. As they always do, researchers got to work and interviewed over 5,000 people who did not identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. What they found was that 11 percent of men interviewed had experienced oral sex with a man while 15 percent of women had. Both numbers surprised the researchers. They expected far fewer straight men to report they had partaken while expecting far more women. This hypothesis reflected what most interviewed thought as well. The leading reason researchers deduced their number on women was much lower than thought was because of the amount of mainstream adult entertainment produced showing women performing with other women. As a society, there are more gray areas with sexuality now than ever before the study concluded. We could have told you that before you talked to 5,000 people.
6 Women's privates are not clean
This is one of those myths that has plagued women for years. Vaginas should not smell bad and if a woman has one that does, it is a sign of an infection. That said, every vagina is different and like any other part of your body, has a scent that can change with factors such as pH level and diet. This is completely normal and should not produce an offending odor. This myth sometimes extends to the conclusion vaginas are dirty, but they are not. They are actually self-cleaning and if there happens to be vaginal discharge, it’s the fluid meant to keep things clean and nothing to be worried or grossed out about. In fear of having a smelly or unclean vagina, women resort to a variety of cleansing agents but doctors warn they can have the opposite effect women are looking for since they upset the natural order of things.
5 All men are born with one penis
The numbers on this one shocked us because as it turns out, men are more likely to be born with two penises than they are to win the Powerball. According to medical research, roughly one in 5.5 million males are born with two penises, a condition known as diphallia. Usually, diphallia happens early in the development of the fetus in the women and often is accompanied by other birth defects leading to a low mortality rate, but there are many cases of men living well into adulthood. A British man, writing under a pseudonym, released a book in 2015 detailing his life with two penises and how while his childhood was difficult once his secret was revealed, he came to terms with his condition later in life and found many sexual partners saw the abnormality as a turn-on. This also happens in the animal kingdom with the most noteworthy case as a snail discovered in 2012 sported three penises.
4 Women don’t "erupt"
It seems like there’s a sexual study for every imaginable scenario and, as an aside, if any researchers happen to be reading, we’re totally up for taking a part-time job with you. That said, there is the myth that females don’t ejaculate but a select few gush, known as “squirting”. Historical records dating back as far as 2,000 report female ejaculation but many still refuse to believe it exists. Female ejaculation doesn’t happen for every women, but it is the release of thick, whitish fluid from the female prostate, known mainly as the Skene’s gland. When it comes to squirting, it’s a totally different story and is much more rare. There is a myth that women who fall into this category are simply peeing. While it’s not that simple, we can actually confirm that myth as fact. Liquid that is expelled is a diluted fluid containing urea, the main ingredient in urine and comes from the bladder, not the female prostate.
3 Men's privates can’t break
Tell that to someone who has a broken penis. They do, in fact, exist and it’s known in the medical field as a penile fracture. While a rare event, a penile fracture happens exactly as you think it would, during vigorous intercourse or masturbation. It starts with a popping sound and immediate loss of erection. When this happens, a trip to the emergency room is a must to determine the severity of the fracture. In mild fractures, a splint is put onto the penis and generally removed four to six weeks later with little long-term effect in sexual performance. In more serious cases, surgery is often performed and most doctors encourage it since men with severe cases that are treated without an operation can lead to a much higher rate of erectile dysfunction. A study of penile fractures in Brazilian hospital is 2014 revealed that almost exclusively, the penis is damaged when a woman is on top.
2 Women urinate out of their vag
First, let’s address what a vagina is. It’s the area from the vulva to the cervix. It doesn’t include the ovaries or the fallopian tubes and it’s not just the opening that can be seen from the outside of the body. It’s duties are to serve as a birth canal for babies, rid itself of menstrual blood, discharge a self-cleaning solution and as a pleasure center during intercourse. Unlike men, who can ejaculate and urinate from their penis, the woman does not pee out of her vagina. Most women don’t even realize this because everything is so close together down there. Urine actually comes from the urethra, a small opening that sits between the clitoris and vagina. Technically, yes, that means there are two openings, but the urethral opening is very small and nearly impossible to detect. For women who ever have urinary infections, it is important to note it’s not the vagina that’s infected.
1 It’s more gross than risky to do the deed with animals
This may sound funny, and in North American culture it is far less prevalent, but there are parts of the world where men having sex with animals is exponentially more common according to studies. In a Brazilian study, a direct link was found between men having intercourse with animals and penile cancer. Men who admitted to having sex with animals were found to have a 13 percent higher chance of that particular form of cancer, although the specific species and frequency of the intercourse did not have an effect on the statistics. Some Brazilian scientists debate these findings saying that men who engaged in beastiality have more dangerous sexual habits across the board and it could be a number of risky behaviors leading to the increase of penile cancer. It’s probably a good time to also mention in more than half of all states, beastiality (or zoophilia as it’s known in scientific circles) is illegal under animal protection laws. We probably shouldn’t have to point that out.