Let’s kick this off with something super sexy: Google’s related searches feature. You know how when you look up something in Google, it provides helpful terms that may be similar to your current search? Well, a few weeks ago I was researching information for an article about sexuality, and this phrase popped in the related search heading: “a teaspoon of sperm is how many calories?” Being a mature adult, I promptly had a giggle fit so severe I had to walk away from the computer. But these types of searches make sense. With the variety of oral sex myths floating around, it’s only natural that some people would question the real health benefits behind this aspect of sexuality. (Oh, and for the record, Greatist says a teaspoon of sperm is about 25 calories.)
Amusing nutritional benefits aside, there are some more important reasons to learn the facts behind oral sex. Dispelling these myths isn’t just about helping to make your sex life more enjoyable (although that’s important too), but it can also have some serious effects on your health. And even just knowing how many people engage in this act, and what their common concerns are, can make you feel more normal. (For instance, you’re not the first person to worry about the taste down there.) Overall, there’s so such thing as too much knowledge when it comes to your health and sexuality, so here’s the truth behind common oral sex myths.
Myth #1: It Isn't Really Sex
Bill Clinton jokes aside, chances are pretty good that you and your SO would think of oral sex as, well, sex. According to the Kinsey Institute, "71 percent [of surveyed adults] considered performing oral sex to be 'sex' in the ordinary sense of the word." Just as it can be a form or foreplay, oral can be the main event in its own right.
Myth #2: You Should Spell The Alphabet With Your Tongue
Who knows where this originated, but most guys know about the whole "spell the alphabet with your tongue" thing as a no-fail standby when performing oral. But there may be a simpler method. Cosmopolitan suggests having your partner use the tip of your tongue to trace circles or figure eights. Just communicate and experiment until you find a method that works for you both.
Myth #3: He Might Pee
This can’t happen. As Psychology Today explains, the "valve in the penis allows urine—but not semen—to flow when the penis is flaccid and semen—but not urine—to flow when it’s erect." So you're safe from this particular worry.
Myth #4: Oral Sex Is A New Thing
Look, chances are the Romans were far more perverted than any modern culture with strong Puritanical roots. And according to Annie August's piece in Salon, the "first clear real traces of fellatio are from ancient Egypt." As it turned out, the Iris and Osiris myth was more tawdry than what you might have learned in school. Oral sex has been around for about as long as humans.
Myth #5: It's Unhygienic
There's no need to bust out the Lysol. And, as the Indiana University Health Center explains, "vaginal douching is NOT recommended" because it can lead to various health problems and may a person more susceptible to infection if exposed during sexual activity. A regular shower is all you need to keep things fresh.
Myth #6: You Can't Orgasm From Oral
Actually, oral sex might help you in that department. As psychologist Debby Herbenick said in Woman's Day, "vaginal sex plus oral sex would be linked to a higher likelihood of orgasm than either one of them alone." So don't be shy about mixing it up!
Myth #7: Pineapple Makes You Taste Sweet
So diet can affect bodily secretions, but eating pineapple will not make a man or woman's nether regions taste like a fruit salad. As Herbenick explained to the Kinsey Institute, there is no scientific research that proves certain foods make semen or vaginal fluids taste sweeter or generally more pleasant. That said, eating more fruit probably won't hurt, so you and your SO can perform your own experiments if you're curious about this.
Myth #8: You Can't Get STDs From Oral
According to the American Sexual Health Association, "during oral sex, you can give your partner your STI and you can get theirs." Your best bet is to get tested and talk about this openly.
Myth #9: You Can't Get HPV From Oral
Can you get HPV-induced throat cancer from oral sex? Well . . . maybe. "There isn't enough conclusive research yet to say whether HPV is actually transmitted from genitals to mouths via oral sex," Dr. Benjamin Brucker, an assistant professor of urology at NYU Langone Medical Center told Cosmopolitan. "But it's best to practice safe oral sex to reduce the risk of HPV transmission." Getting tested, being safe, and being honest with your partners are all good practices.