Despite our sexually saturated society, Americans are surprisingly naïve about what’s true and what’s not about sex—and some myths just won’t die.
Here, the most common myths and the truth…
MEN THINK ABOUT SEX ALL THE TIME
It’s been widely reported—and often repeated in social media—that men think about sex every seven seconds. That would mean that men are having sexual thoughts about every time they take a breath. Impossible!
But men do think about sex more often than women do. In one study, 54% of the men surveyed said that they had sexual thoughts every day or several times a day. Among women, 19% thought about sex with the same frequency.
MEN DOING THE LAUNDRY TURNS WOMEN ON
True or false: A man who really wants sex should simply roll up his sleeves and do a load of laundry. His wife will tear his clothes off.
Answer: True and false. Women report higher levels of marital satisfaction when husbands help out around the house. And marital satisfaction is correlated with sexual desire in some studies, so perhaps housework will lead to satisfaction and satisfaction will lead to more desire.
But the laundry itself may be incidental—or, paradoxically, even detrimental. Data from the National Survey of Families and Households showed that couples actually had less sex when men did more of the “core” housework (laundry, dishes, cleaning house, etc.), compared with couples in which the men did more traditional “man-typed” tasks, such as car repairs and yard work.
BIG FEET, BIG ****
No one wants to stare (or get caught staring) at the area beneath a man’s belt. Is sneaking a peek at his feet a less embarrassing way to check his endowment?
It’s not a reliable measure. In one survey (often referred to as “The Definitive Penis Size Survey”), 3,100 men reported information about the size of their penises and their other characteristics. It found no connection between erect penis size and shoe size.
By all means, check out a man’s feet—but only if you’re curious about his taste in shoes.
CHOCOLATE IS AN APHRODISIAC
Throughout history, people have believed that certain foods—such as chocolate, oysters and asparagus—are aphrodisiacs that increase sexual desire and performance.
There might be a kernel of truth to it. Chocolate, for example, contains compounds that dilate blood vessels and can potentially help a man get erections. Other compounds in chocolate stimulate the release of neurotransmitters that improve mood. People who feel good are more likely to want to have sex.
But there’s nothing in chocolate, oysters or other foods that will stimulate desire in people. On the other hand, if you like those foods, there’s no reason not to eat them.
WOMEN ARE TURNED OFF BY SWEATY, STINKY MEN
It seems like common sense that women would be turned off by sweaty, stinky men. Not so!
A group of scientists at University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study of how certain components of male sweat affected women. They found that women who smelled a component of male sweat called androstadienone had improved mood and reported more sexual arousal. They also saw their blood pressure increase, their heart rates go up and their breathing become more rapid.
SEX IS GREAT FOR WEIGHT LOSS
If you have frequent, vigorous sex that lasts as long as a run on the treadmill, you’ll probably lose a bit of weight. Otherwise, forget it.
You do burn calories during sex—anywhere from 85 to 150 calories in 30 minutes. But who has sex for a half-hour? The average duration of a sexual encounter is about five minutes—and the biggest increase in metabolism occurs for only about 15 seconds during orgasm. At that rate, you would have to have a lot of sex to lose weight.
SEX OFTEN CAUSES HEART ATTACKS
As discussed above, sex isn’t nearly as strenuous as people think. The physical exertion that most people put in when having sex is similar to walking up two flights of stairs. If you’re generally healthy, your risk of having a heart attack during sex is about one in a million. (The chance of being hit by lightning in a given year is one in 700,000.)
What if you already have heart disease? You still shouldn’t worry. If you are able to pass a basic stress test, your risk of having a heart attack during sex goes up to only 10 in a million.
Exceptions: Anyone who has recently had a heart attack or stroke or other cardiovascular event should talk to his/her doctor about the types of activities that he should or shouldn’t do. Sex is unlikely to be on the “don’t” list.