How did you learn about the birds and the bees? Was it in health class? Maybe a cringey convo with your parents? Or, did you learn about it the old-fashioned millennial way—on the internet?
With so many sources and conflicting information, it can be difficult to know what’s a fact and what’s a myth.
We break down some of the most common safe sex myths below (including that infamous “blue” issue).
Condoms Protect Against All STDs
If your partner uses a condom, then you must be having safe sex, right? Wrong.
The CDC states that condoms, when used correctly, are highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis.
However, condoms won’t protect you against herpes, genital warts, or syphilis, which spread via skin-to-skin contact.
It’s Okay To Use A Condom Twice
Look, I’m all about reducing, reusing, and recycling—just maybe not with rubbers.
External condoms should be disposed of after one use. Friction wears out the condom’s protective barrier, making it more susceptible to failing.
Additionally, just because the condom looks clean doesn’t mean that there isn’t bodily fluid present that could cause unwanted pregnancy or STD transmission.
You Can’t Use Condoms If You Have A Latex Allergy
Maybe you’ve had a partner try and convince you their allergy prevents them from wearing a condom. (Or, maybe you’ve only had sexual partners that weren’t sleazy—lucky you!)
Either way, this latex allergy myth is false. If you or your partner has a latex allergy or sensitivity, there are other options available.
The Cleveland Health Clinic suggests polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms, female (internal) condoms, or lambskin condoms instead.
Pulling Out Is An Effective Contraceptive Method
According to Planned Parenthood, for every 100 people who use the pull-out method perfectly, four will get pregnant.
The keyword here is “perfectly.” Pre-ejaculation still contains sperm. So, even if one partner pulls out before orgasm, they still might have transferred semen into the vagina.
The pull-out method is better than nothing, but to say it’s effective is a bit of a stretch.
Unprotected Oral Or Anal Sex Is ‘Safe’ Sex
To avoid the pull-out method and/or condoms, many people will choose to engage in oral or anal sex to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Sure, oral sex can prevent unwanted pregnancies—not as much with the latter.
Further, neither of these forms of sexual intercourse prevents STDs. So, again, condoms are best.
It’s Impossible To Get Pregnant While On Your Period
Oh, honey—if only Mother Nature were that considerate. Unfortunately, it is still possible to conceive at any time during your menstrual cycle.
There’s technically no “safe” time of the month to have unprotected sex—not right before, right after, or during your period.
Every menstruating person’s cycle is different. So, while there might be exceptions to this rule, do you really feel like risking it?
You Can’t Get The Morning After Pill Without A Prescription
Getting the morning after pill can be tricky—many stores keep it off the shelves, forcing customers to ask for it at the front desk not-so-discreetly.
Additionally, it can cost upwards of $80, depending on where you live. So, yes, it is annoying that it’s easier to buy painkillers than it is the morning after pill.
But you don’t need a prescription. As of 2013, there are also no age limits to purchase the pill.
Emergency Contraception Aborts Existing Pregnancies
The morning-after pill can reduce your chance of getting pregnant by 75-89% if taken within three days after unprotected sex.
But emergency contraception and medical abortion are not the same things.
Morning after pills will not induce an abortion in an already pregnant individual, nor will they affect a developing pre-embryo or embryo.
Douching Helps Clean The Vagina And Protect Against Unwanted Pregnancy
Douching refers to washing or cleaning out the vagina with water or other fluids. The US Office on Women’s Health estimates that one in five American women douche—but zero need to.
The vagina is a fully-equipped, self-cleaning system. Douching strips vaginas of bad and good bacteria, messing with its pH and increasing the risk of infection.
And no, douching won’t help you “clean out semen” to prevent pregnancy, either.
It’s Impossible For Virgins To Get STDs
If two partners who don’t have STDs have sex, neither is at risk of contracting an infection. STDs don’t appear out of thin air.
Still, someone never having had penetrative sex does not make them immune to STDs. Oral sex is one way to pick up an STD unknowingly.
Another is through IV drugs or having it passed from mother to baby during childbirth. So, yes—virgins need to wear condoms, too.
Yes, Blue Balls Are Real; No, They Are Not A Big Deal
Blue balls is a slang term for epididymal hypertension. In plain English, it’s when the testicles ache after experiencing sexual arousal without orgasm.
Scientific studies show that, yes, it’s a real thing. Studies also show that it does not result in any negative long-term side effects, including death.
If you can’t engage in safe sex, but your partner is still pressuring you because of blue balls, take this as your sign. Kick them to the curb, and let them blue ball boohoo all the way home.