True or false? Investigating myths about sex and sexuality

There are a lot of fishy facts about the ins and outs of sex. Though a good story often involves a little embellishment, sometimes the most widely shared information can be the most exaggerated. Or even plain incorrect. Nobody wants to be heading out into the field with faulty intel, so here’s a list of tall tales we’ve debunked in order to assist you on your amorous adventures.

You can catch STIs from a toilet seat.

This is a tricky one. While it is theoretically possible that some STIs could be passed from person to person via a toilet seat, the likelihood is so small that the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that it is extremely improbable meaning the chances are slim to none. STIs are not present in urine and most can’t survive outside the human body for more than a few seconds. While this is a particularly difficult area in which to conduct medical research, proof of contracting an STI in this manner has never been found.

‘Double bagging’ makes you safer.

Though it might make intuitive sense that wearing two condoms will equal double the protection, condom manufacturers (hi!) and health professionals agree it’s a dumb idea. The friction between the two condom surfaces can make them much more likely to tear, so you’re actually putting yourself at greater risk by slipping on that extra latex layer. Once again, it’s a bit tricky to conduct medical research into this topic, but we can tell you that the statistics of single condom breakage are very low if condoms are used correctly. If you’re concerned about pregnancy and you want to be extra safe, double up with two forms of contraception rather than two condoms.

If you need lube it means you’re doing it wrong.

People can be self-conscious when their bodies don’t behave the way they want in the heat of the moment. Dr Debby Herbenick, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, says that around a third of women experience some form of difficulty with lubrication during sex. Many women notice changes in their vaginal lubrication levels throughout their menstrual cycle, too, and hormonal contraceptive pills can also have an effect. Using lube is a fun and sexy way to ensure that everyone is comfortable with getting things moving. If anal sex is what you’re into, lube is pretty much always required to avoid discomfort and potential injury, as the anus doesn’t naturally lubricate itself.

You need to pick a side.

Over the last thirty years, a great deal of work has gone into normalising the non-heterosexual identities in Australia. Today you’re well within your rights to occupy whichever portion of the sexuality spectrum you prefer, and some people even change their position as and if it suits them. While a more fluid expression of sexuality is still unfamiliar territory for some, the truth is that very few people have ever sat perfectly within the prefabricated categories of straight, gay or bisexual. According to Dr Justin Lehmiller, ‘sexual fluidity’ is a term that people are now adopting with greater and greater frequency. This means you’re free to be yourself, in whichever experience of sexual orientation you feel most comfortable.

Sex has to be penetrative and involve orgasms.

Some people can make the mistake of thinking that ‘good’ or ‘proper’ sex has to involve a set series of consecutive events. Penetration and orgasm are the big boxes that many seem desperate to tick in order to feel that sex has been a success. This may stem from having watched a lot of sex scenes, which can reinforce stereotypes and depict an idealised version of sexual activity. Studies have shown that, for many people, ‘sex’ involves a wide range of non-coital activities. Just as every person has different tastes in food, music and fashion, people can have unique, personalised sexual tastes. Good sex is about finding stimulating, enjoyable common ground with someone – not re-enacting something you saw in a movie.