The following article has been reposted from Buro Malaysia.
You’ve probably believed a few of these surprising sex myths—from the right way to “pull out” to the nuances of consent, we’re deep diving into the biggest misconceptions men have about sex.
“Bigger is better”. “It’s only good sex if it looks like it does in porn”. “Harder, better, faster… stronger”. There’s a chance you’ve encountered these ideas—or even believed them yourself—at some point or another. It’s no surprise—with the abysmal state of sex education in Malaysia, there has been little opportunity to correct these ideas before they had festered into mainstream thought. As it stands, sex is still very much a taboo topic on our shores, but there is fortunately change on the horizon.
To help us debunk the biggest misconceptions about sex, we spoke to sexologist and professional counsellor Andrea Koh, who is a member of both the Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia (RRAAM) and the All Women Action Society (AWAM) as well as a partner of Durex Academy. Ahead, find the full debrief, from whether size actually matters to what really counts as losing your virginity:
MISCONCEPTION #1: THE BIGGER THE SIZE, THE BETTER THE SEX
In our phallus-obsessed world, a bigger penis is often seen as more desirable. But, does size really matter? According to the experts, unfortunately, being well-hung doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a stallion in bed. Koh asserts that it’s actually very subjective: “While some individuals may place importance on size, it is crucial to note that sex isn’t solely focused on penetration or intercourse; it involves a variety of activities like arousal, foreplay, intimacy, technique. The ability to meet each other’s needs and desires plays a significant role in determining sexual satisfaction.”
“Additionally, the preferences of your partner play a significant role because not everyone enjoys a larger size, as it can be uncomfortable or even painful for some individuals,” she elaborates. “Hence, it’s not the size that guarantees better sex, but open communication, mutual respect, and a focus on overall sexual well-being that are more likely to contribute to a fulfilling and enjoyable sexual experience than a specific size alone.”
MISCONCEPTION #2: THE HARDER YOU THRUST, THE BETTER IT FEELS
Rough sex can be fun, but going harder and faster (and stronger) isn’t always better. Koh explains that engaging in rough sex without proper care and consideration can lead to several potential harms, including:
Overall, Koh reiterates that “it is important to approach sexual activities with care and consideration for both partners’ well-being, ensuring that the intensity and pace are suitable for everyone involved.”
MISCONCEPTION #3: SEX IS JUST LIKE IT IS IN THE PICTURES
Of course, by pictures we mean pornography. An unfortunate fact is that, for many young people in Malaysia, pornography is the primary source of sexual education, which has led to a warped perception of what sex actually looks like among the population. In fact, according to Durex, a whopping one in three Gen Zers believe that the sex shown in pornography is normal sex.
Koh emphasises that “at the core of it, porn stars are actors, and just like any other movies we watch, they are performing to make the scenes visually appealing and captivating. Thus, what is depicted in pornography may not reflect real-life sexual experiences accurately.”
Some of the major differences between the sex portrayed in porn and sex in real life include:
Understanding these differences is crucial to developing a healthy and realistic perspective on sexuality, which in turn helps to promote safer, more fulfilling and more satisfying sexual experiences.
MISCONCEPTION #4: VIRGINITY IS OBJECTIVE
There’s one thing we’ve all been told our whole lives—losing your virginity involves “p” in “v” action and the breaking of the hymen (a soft and elastic tissue found in the vagina). However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Koh stresses that “virginity is not determined by the condition of a specific body part but is rather a personal definition that varies among individuals”. In short, virginity is a social and cultural construct. Different people may have different perspectives on what constitutes sexual activity—some may consider only penis-vagina penetration as sex, while others include a broader range of sexual activities like oral sex or heavy petting as sex. Either way, as Koh puts it, “It is not our place to judge or impose a single definition of virginity on others.”
MISCONCEPTION #5: THE HYMEN ONLY BREAKS DURING A GIRL’S FIRST TIME
On the topic of virginity, the hymen is also a highly misunderstood organ. “Unlike other organs, the hymen does not serve a specific function and can naturally wear down or tear on its own,” says Koh. “It is not a reliable indicator of virginity since it can be easily broken through regular daily activities, and its rupture does not necessarily cause bleeding. In fact, identifying a torn hymen can be challenging, as it can blend seamlessly with the surrounding vaginal tissue.”
On that note, contrary to popular belief, not all women will bleed during their first sexual encounter. “Bleeding can occur due to various reasons, including the tearing of the vaginal entry or rough sexual activity, rather than the breaking of the hymen,” Koh expands. “The absence of bleeding does not negate someone’s virginity.”
MISCONCEPTION #6: CONDOMS ARE OPTIONAL AS LONG AS YOU PULL OUT
Nothing is more freeing than throwing caution to the wind, but there is a time and place for it—and it is certainly not while you’re doing bedroom gymnastics. According to Koh, there are numerous risks associated with having unprotected sex, including:
Overall, the key message is clear: Wrap your willy before you get silly. Cover your stump before you hump. When in doubt, shroud your spout. Wear a condom. Koh asserts that you should “consistently and correctly use barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies. It’s also important to ensure that the condoms are stored and used according to the instructions provided.”
“In addition, it’s highly recommended to get tested regularly for STIs (every three to six months), especially if you have multiple partners or engage in high-risk sexual behaviours,” she continues. “Regular testing helps detect any infections early and allows for timely treatment and prevention of further transmission.”
MISCONCEPTION #7: CONSENT ENDS AT “YES”
By now, most are aware that sex is not sex unless there is explicit consent (anyone arguing otherwise is likely a terrible human being). However, what isn’t often discussed are the nuances of consent. Was your partner’s ‘Yes’ enthusiastic? Have you checked that your partner is comfortable with you trying something new mid-coitus? The reality is that consent is an ongoing conversation that should continue throughout your sexual tryst. Here are some effective ways Koh suggests to ask for consent and ensure your partner feels comfortable during sex:
Koh concludes that “by prioritising open communication, active listening, and respecting boundaries, you can create an environment where consent is continuously sought and enthusiastic participation is encouraged. Ultimately, we want to ensure that all individuals involved in sexual activities feel comfortable, empowered, and fully in control of their choices.”
MISCONCEPTION #8: YOU CAN ONLY CATCH AND SPREAD HIV IF YOU’RE A GAY MAN
This is dangerous rhetoric that continues to thrive despite mounting evidence against it—we reiterate: Anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, can be at risk of contracting HIV. Koh has listed the need-to-knows about how HIV is transmitted and the prevention methods for your reference:
MISCONCEPTION #9: IF YOU’RE SUFFERING, YOU JUST HAVE TO SUCK IT UP
There’s a big ‘grin and bear it’ culture when it comes to mental health in men, but we’re here to remind you that it is okay to feel how you’re feeling and that you don’t have to suffer in silence. No matter how big or small your problems seem, do not hesitate to seek professional guidance—and that goes for all aspects of your mental health, not just the parts pertaining to sex.
If you have specific concerns or difficulties related to your sexual health or relationships, Koh urges you to consult with a healthcare professional or a trained sex therapist. “Reliable sources such as healthcare providers, reputable websites, or sexual health organizations can provide accurate information and provide expert guidance, support, and tailored advice to help address your unique needs,” she says. “This proactive approach ensures that everyone involved can navigate their sexual experiences in a safe, healthy, and enjoyable manner.”
The following article has been adapted from an interview conducted by Buro Malaysia (https://www.buro247.my/beauty/body-wellness/misconceptions-men-have-about-sex.html?fbclid=PAAaZOPs-q8G57RbhkFwPBtJGVpsUudWGP08JuLbLwCp4qkjLgymZF0DE3qf8)