Sextual Myths & Misconception :

This chapter clarifies some of the common myths and misconceptions which young people have. Except for numbers 66 and 67 under Education in Human Sexuality, numbers 1 to 65 are grouped under various topics arranged in alphabetical order, and are numbered serially.


1. AIDS is a disease of the homosexuals.

Ans. AIDS is a disease which any one can get, not only homosexuals.

2. AIDS will take care of the overpopulation problem.

Ans. The rise in HIV/AIDS infection is not likely to make any significant dent in the growth of any given population. Studies from the most affected African countries suggest that HIV/AIDS infection at its peak affect only 25 to 30% of the local population. This is far short of the infection rates that would halt population growth, let alone reverse it. WHO estimates that by 2000 A.D. at least 1.8 million people will die from AIDS in India compared to a population increase of 100 million by the same year.


3. Exercise, application of creams and injections of hormones are of great help in breast development.

Ans. No. There is no medicine, cream or injection of hormones that can develop or enlarge the breast. Exercise can strengthen and tighten the muscles of the chest wall behind the breast. Breasts are made up of milk glands and fatty tissue. The amount of fatty tissue present determines the size of the breast.

4. Larger breasts produce more milk than smaller ones.

Ans. The breasts are basically made up of the fatty tissue which determines the size of the breast and the milk glands which secrete the milk for the newborn baby. Hence, the milk production is independent of the size of the breast.

5. Breast feeding causes the breasts to sag.

Ans. Breasts of any size sag eventually. During pregnancy breasts increase in size in preparation for the forthcoming birth. It is failure to support this extra weight with a good brassiere or bodice that causes breasts to sag.


6. If a woman uses contraceptives she might not be able to have children later on.

Ans. Only one contraceptive method stops a man or a woman from having children forever - namely sterilization. Either the man or the woman can get himself/herself sterilized. In the man the vasa deferentia (the tubes which carry sperms from the testes into the semen) are cut and tied up. Hence the man's semen does not contain any sperms. In the woman the fallopian tubes (that carry ova or egg cells from the ovaries to the uterus) are cut and tied up. Hence the fallopian tubes are blocked so that the sperms'cannot reach the egg. This means that both a sterilised man and a sterilised woman can have sex though neither can ever have children. Sterilization is a permanent method of family planning. All the other methods including the oral pill and the IUD are temporary methods. These methods can be effectively used to space births and do not cause sterility. A person using any spacing method should consult a doctor or visit a family planning clinic if there are any untoward side effects.

7. Sterilization is irreversible.

Ans. Sterilization is reversible and though the success rate is on the increase it is not 100 per cent dependable.
Recanalisation can reverse the surgical sterilisation. In recanalisation the oviducts of females or the sperm ducts of males which were cut and tied can be operated on to remake the canal or passage for the egg or the sperm cells to pass through again.
Recanalisation surgery is not widely available in India because it is very expensive and it requires highly skilled surgeons. The success rate of this process in women under skilled surgeons is 75%. For males reversal the success rate in skilled hand is as high as 85-90%.
If the time lapse between sterilisation and recanalisation is more than 5 years the success rate drops.

8. The contraceptive pill will build up or keep collecting in the body.

Ans. The contraceptive pill does not accumulate in the body. The pill constituents are very small amounts of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone which are normally present in the women's body. Therefore as physiological body chemicals they are metabolised and excreted in the normal way.

9. The pill causes cancer.

Ans. Scientists have done many studies with women who use the pill regularly or irregularly. These studies do not show that the pill causes cancer. In fact they show that the pill can actually help protect the woman from some kinds of cancer.

10. Condoms break during sex.

Ans. Condoms rarely break. The new condoms are very strong. People who are worried can use a water base lubricant like K Y jelly but not an oil base lubricant like vaseline as this can cause the condom rubber to perish. Condoms, however, should not be used if they are old (so it is necessary to look at the expiry date on the wrapper), or if they have been kept in a hot place. Each condom should be used only once and never ever used beyond the expiry date. If these instructions are followed, condoms will not break.

11.  If a condom comes off during sex, it might get lost inside the woman's abdomen.

Ans. If a condom does come off when a couple had sex, the woman can reach into her vagina with her fingers and take it out. It does not enter the uterus or the abdomen.

12. The intrauterine device (IUD) might travel through a woman's abdomen.

Ans. The IUD usually stays in the womb until a doctor, nurse, or midwife removes it. If it does get dislodged, it usually comes out through the vagina. However, in rare cases the IUD may perforate through the wall of the uterus and lie in the abdominal cavity.


13. A man with a larger penis is sexually more potent than a man with a smaller one.

Ans. The size of the penis, and male sexual potency are unrelated. Male potency is a psycho-physiological process stimulated by erotic thoughts, touch, fantasy, etc. The erection of the penis is dependent on the nerves and blood that reach it.

14. A large penis is of greater importance to a woman's sexual gratification as it can easily touch the cervix.

Ans. In a woman the outer one third of the vagina is sensitive to sexual pleasure. Even 5 to 7 cm of an erect penis can give sexual pleasure to a woman as the outer one third of the vagina (i.e. approximately 5 cm) is sensitive to such kind of pleasure.
The gratification through the penis touching the surface of the cervix does not arise.


15. Homosexuals can be- identified by their appearance.

Ans. There is nothing specific in appearance, mannerism or dress that will differentiate a homosexual from heterosexuals.

16. Homosexuals are 'Born That Way'.

Ans. To the best of our knowledge there are no inherited traits that human beings get so that they are born as homosexuals.

17. A child who touches the genitals of another of the same sex is showing homosexual tendencies.

Ans. A child touching the genitals of another is doing it out of mere curiosity.

18. Men and women are' always either totally homosexuals or totally heterosexuals.

Ans. There are many individuals who get satisfaction out of both types of relationships (i.e. homosexual and heterosexual). Such individuals are called bisexual, that is they are comfortable with sexual partners of their own sex as well as of the opposite sex.

19. Homosexuals are more creative than heterosexuals.

Ans. Homosexuals are no more orless creative than heterosexuals.


20. Presence of hymen is the only test of a woman's virginity.

Ans. Presence of the hymen cannot be a test of virginity. Sometimes the hymen can be broken due to heavy exercises, horse riding, use of tampons, etc. A girl may be a virgin and still have a ruptured hymen. A girl may even be born without a hymen but this is rare.

21. Pregnancy is not possible when the hymen is intact.

Ans. The male may place the penis near the female vagina and ejaculate the semen containing sperms outside the hymen. Although the penis his not entered the vagina, the sperms shed outside can very easily enter through the small opening in the hymen and swim up through the vagina, cervix and uterus to the fallopian tubes. If such a sperm meets a mature ovum in the fallopian tube, fertilization can take place leading to pregnancy.


22. A man can always "will" an erection.

Ans. No. It is not a voluntary action. Erection depends on the proper working of the nerve connections and the blood supply, to die penis. Erection occurs when spongy spaces in the penis gets filled with blood in response to physical stimulation, psychological stimulation or bom. Even if a man desires to have an erection he may not get one due to fatigue or distraction.

23. Oral genital sex is abnormal.

Ans. This is one of the various forms of sexual expression between two people. It is not an abnormality. If two or more partners are agreeable and comfortable and get satisfaction from this sexual expression then it is normal for them.

Coitus should be avoided during pregnancy.

Ans. Coitus during pregnancy is alright unless the doctor advises otherwise for medical reasons. However, the sexual activity should not be uncomfortable for the pregnant woman and doctor's advice on this is essential. In case of pain, vaginal bleeding, or past history, of abortion, coitus has to be avoided. It is necessary to consider the willingness of the pregnant woman.


25. Frequent masturbation can lead to sexual inadequacy.

Ans. Physiologically or biologically there is no connection between masturbation and sexual inadequacy or sexual excesses. The self-stimulation of the penis or clitoris is neither harmful nor weakening. The sexual inadequacy, if present* could be due to guilt feelings.

26. Masturbation can lead to acne, insanity, tuberculosis, impotence, homosexuality, dark circles around the eyes, hairy hands, falling hair, mental retardation, diminishing size of perns and changes in the angle of the penis.

Ans. Masturbation is normal and definitely does not lead to any of the above.

27. Masturbation is practised exclusively by men.

Ans. Masturbation is practised by both men and women. Whilst men self stimulate the penis, women self stimulate the clitoris and the labia resulting in a climax.

28. Masturbation is practised only by the young, the immature and the unmarried.

Ans. Married people, mature people, adults and elderly persons, all practise masturbation.


29. Menopause is the end of sex life.

Ans. Menopause brings an end to the child bearing period in a woman's life. It does not take away the sexual desire. If the body and mind are healthy, the individual can remain sexually active till the end of her life.

Menopause makes a woman unattractive, obese, mentally disturbed and sexually disinterested.

Ans. The climacteric does not cause a female to become unattractive or obese unless she has stopped taking care of herself. Women are neither mentally disturbed nor sexually disinterested. They may become temporarily moody due to the hormonal changes which occur during this period.


31. Sex during menses is unsafe.

Ans. Biologically sex during menses is not at all unsafe. If both partners are willing and comfortable then they can have sex during menses without affecting their health.

32. A woman is impure during menstruation.

Ans. Menstruation is a normal, healthy function of the female body. Hence restrictions placed on the woman have no scientific basis. She can carry on doing all that she normally does. The age old restrictions laid on menstruating women are unfounded.

Some of these common restrictions are :

- no bathing or hair bath.
- no cooking or entering the kitchen.
- not partaking in religious ceremonies, no going out to games, parties, etc.
eating vegetarian and/or very small quantities of food.

The menstruating woman is not impure and if she maintains menstrual hygiene, she need not even feel unclean.


33. Women do not experience orgasms.

Ans. Women do experience orgasm.

34. Clitoral and vaginal orgasms are distinctly different.

Ans. No, there is no such difference. Either the clitoris or the vagina or both can be stimulated to reach a climax or orgasm.

35. Women who have multiple orgasms are 'abnormal' or 'nymphomaniacs' (women with excessive sexual desires).

Ans. Multiple orgasm is when a woman has several orgasms within a short period. Every woman has the physical capacity to experience multiple orgasms. They may not or may experience this depending on the effective, ongoing, stimulations after the first orgasm.

36. During menopause women do not usually reach orgasm.

Ans. During menopause the ovulation and menstruation (child bearing functions) cease. However the sex desires continue so if the clitoris or the vagina is stimulated, an orgasm is reached.

37. Simultaneous orgasms are necessary for conception and sexual compatibility.

Ans. Simultaneous orgasms (i.e. the man and the woman reach the peaks of their respective satisfactions together) are not necessary for conception. It is the sperm meeting with the ovum that leads to conception. Conception can occur without orgasm. Similarly sexual gratification is derived even when the orgasms of both partners follow one another.


38. Most women secretly want to be raped.

Ans. Many people at some point in their lives have fantasies of being "taken" sexually, or of being swept off their feet. This is an idea which is also played up a lot by the mass media and common literature. But there is an important difference between fantasies and actual rape. We control our fantasies. They can be a sexual turn-on, but they are not reality. In reality, rape is an act of force and sometimes violence over which there is no control. No woman wants to be raped, despite what movies or popular stories say.

39. If a woman gets raped, then it is really her fault. She invites rape by dressing scantily or sexily.

Ans. A common myth about rape is that it is really the woman's fault. The woman is believed to have enticed or tempted the man through her revealing clothes or her looks or her behaviour. Research has shown that the way a woman dresses or acts or behaves has very little to do with whether or not she is raped. In reality, women of all ages and appearances get raped.

40. Most women enjoy being raped. If a woman does not shout, protest or ask for help, she has enjoyed rape.

Ans. We live in a society that increasingly links sex and violence. It is often made to appear that the most exciting sex is mixed with violence or the threat of violence. The truth is that no woman enjoys pain caused by violence and an invasion of her privacy.

41. If a woman really did not want to get raped, she could prevent a man from having intercourse with her.

Ans. If a woman is raped, it is believed that she permitted the sexual contact. In reality, a woman who resists being assaulted by a violent man, or one who is armed puts her body as well as her life at great risk.

42. A prostitute (commercial sex worker) cannot be raped.

Ans. Rape is a forced sexual act. Even though a prostitute sells sex for a living her feelings can be violated through forced sex, that is when she is not willing to have sex with a customer.


43. One drop of semen is equivalent to 40 drops of blood which in its turn requires a lot of nourishing food.

Ans. This statement is not scientifically correct. One drop of semen has no relationship with 40 drops of blood.

44. Men are born with fixed quota of semen and excessive dissipation of semen will devitalise them, promote ageing and will lead to seminal bankruptcy.

Ans. Semen is being constantly prepared by the body and a healthy body can produce it throughout life. There is no fixed quota of semen in the body of a male.

45. Nocturnal emissions or wet dreams indicate a sexual disorder.

Ans. Nocturnal emissions are normal to any adolescent boy or adult man and hence should not be considered either as illness or a disorder. Testes are constantly producing sperms from puberty, hence the older sperms have to be thrown out of the body so that the fresh ones take their place. These emissions occur as a result of erotic dreams, or in a prone position in sleep it may cause local stimulation resulting in erection and emission of semen.

46. Absence or deficiency of sperms affects one's potency.

Ans. The quantity of sperm produced by the male does not have any relationship with the erectile tissue of his penis. Hence his potency is independent of the absence or deficiency of sperms.

47. Swallowing of seminal fluid during fellatio (oral intercourse) leads to obesity and pregnancy.

Ans. The semen consists of sperm cells, fructose and alkaline material.
None of these have the ingredients for making one obese. For pregnancy the sperm has to reach the fallopian tube or oviduct to meet the mature ovum and fertilize it. The only entry for the sperm is through the vagina. There is no connection between the digestive tract and the fallopian tube. So swallowing semen will not lead to pregnancy. The sperms are destroyed in the stomach due to the acidity in it.


48. Children who are abused are primarily older, teenaged children.

Ans. Victims as young as 2 months old have been raped.

49. The child is in greatest danger from a total stranger.

Ans. Children are raped or molested more often by people they know.

50. Children are usually molested on playgrounds and other outdoor places.

Ans. Children can be in more danger in their own homes and in the homes of "friends" of the family.

51. Children who are raped are retarded.

Ans. While retarded children are at a high risk of sexual abuse, the vast majority of abused children are not retarded. All children are vulnerable and as such can be potential victims.

52. Only gays rape small children.

Ans. A child is more likely to be sexually abused by a person of heterosexual orientation than by a gay adult.


Regular douching is essential to keep the vagina clean.

Ans. A douche is a rubber pouch with a tube at one end. The pouch is filled with the fluid and the tube inserted in the vagina. The pouch is then squeezed so that the fluid squirts out of the tube into the vagina. The vagina is self-cleansing. Regular douching destroys the natural protection of the vagina resulting in irritation and infection. Douching is wrongly considered by some as a method of birth control. A douche should never be used unless recommended by a doctor.

54. Circumcision is the only way to keep the penis clean.

Ans. Circumcision will not permit formation of smegma because the foreskin is removed. However, if a man is not circumcised he can keep himself clean by pulling back the foreskin and washing off the smegma underneath. Genital hygiene is important irrespective of whether the man is circumcised or not.


55. If a male having a sexually transmitted disease has sex with a virgin girl he will be cured of the STD.

Ans. Having sex with a virgin girl, will not cure a person of STDs. Not only does the person continue to be infected because he avoids seeing a doctor but it is also likely that the disease will be transmitted to the concerned girl.

56. Disappearance of the symptoms means the cure of the STD.

Ans. Being asymptomatic definitely does not mean absence of the disease. In fact, in primary syphilis many of the signs disappear even without treatment. But the person is still infected throughout. Hence, it is important to continue the treatment even when symptoms disappear.

57. A person can catch STD from using a public toilet.

Ans. This is a very common fear among people. But it is actually false because the germs that cause these diseases are quite fragile and usually do not live long outside their human host.

58. An STD is a punishment for immoral or promiscuous behaviour.

Ans. An STD can be contracted by someone who has only had sex with one partner in his/her whole life, if that partner has coitus with another infected person. Here the faithful partner would be receiving a punishment for his/her partner's sins. So it is wrong to say that STD is a punishment for being unfaithful.

59. Washing one's private parts everyday is sufficient to prevent an STD.

Ans.While infection can be prevented to a certain extent through personal hygiene, being mutually faithful to one partner and using condoms are more effective ways of preventing STD.

60. Gonorrhoea is the first stage of syphilis.

Ans. Gonorrhoea and syphilis are not the same STD. These are caused by two different micro-organisms.


61. Hysterectomy terminates a woman's sex life.

Ans. Hysterectomy will terminate a woman's ability to bear children but it will not end her sexual desires.

62. Sterilisation reduces sexual desire and capacity of men and women.

Ans. Sterilisation in men and women prevents conception because the passage for movement of sperm and ovum has been blocked. Sexual desire is not reduced as this is aroused by the human senses of smell, sight, touch, and thought and by the sex hormones all of which remain intact.

63. If a man is sterilized, he will not be able to perform sexually. He will be like a castrated bull.

Ans. Sterilization or vasectomy cannot be compared with the castration of the bull. In male sterilization only the passage of the spermatozoa is, blocked. Testes produce the male hormones testosterone which maintains the virility of the man. This hormone produced by the testes enters directly into the blood and not through the vas deferens (the passage of sperms). Hence a man's virility, his sexual desire and his ability to perform sex act are not affected.

64. Removal of the prostate always reduces sexual desire and capacity.

Ans. The prostate gland adds fluid to the semen. Sexual desire is not aroused by the prostate but by the sex hormones and the human senses of smell, sight, touch and thought.

65. Castration of the male always diminishes the sexual desire.

Ans. If castration or the male (removal of testes) is done before the onset of puberty, the sex desire and the ability to perform sex will disappear, not otherwise.


66. Education in Human Sexuality in schools and colleges will lead to sexual experimentation.

Ans. This is a fallacy. Children and adolescents are naturally curious about the facts of life and the changes that occur in their bodies. They want answers to their queries and will get the answers from any available source and deal with such information the way they deem fit. If this information is given through formal sexuality education programmes then along with correct information, there is a support system provided, values are built in, decisions of roles and responsibilities are discussed and the adolescent is aware of what is happening to his/her body.

Recent surveys conducted by international agencies show that adolescents who have received Education in Human Sexuality (viz. the inclusion of not only scientific information but also attitudes, values, and responsible relationships, are known to show responsible behaviour and they tend to postpone their first sexual encounter.

67. Young children should not be told where babies come from because they are too young to understand this.

Ans. Young children observe pregnant women and ask questions about babies like "How did it get in?", "How will it come out?", "Why can't daddy have a baby?", These are natural curiosity questions and require an honest, simple answer at their level of understanding in a language appropriate to its age. It is only when children are satisfied that they stop asking questions; otherwise they are persistent about these queries.