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It’s time to unlearn these sex education myths

June 1, 2023
By, laura

 Sex Education Myths

The sex education you get at school is usually cringey and filled with plot holes. You’re given just enough information to be afraid of pregnancy and STIs, but not enough information to know how to explore your sexuality for the first time. 

This leaves many youngster’s turning to porn for the bulk of their sex education. As a result, there are many myths that are widespread among UK adults. Here are some of the things you need to stop believing about sex.

1. Erectile dysfunction is a normal part of ageing 

A shocking 34% of Brits believe that erectile dysfunction is a normal part of getting older and just something they should expect. While around 70% of those with penises will experience this by the time they reach the age of 70, this isn’t a characteristic of ageing and there are often lots of other reasons this might happen.

It isn’t something that you just have to accept and adapt to. There is often an underlying medical condition, and this could be highly treatable. It could also be psychological, and may be the result of believing that it will happen eventually. 

Brits also believe that this can spell the end of their sex life. This isn’t the case. There are tools and toys to explore before you give it. And there are also ways you can enjoy sexual stimulation without an erection.

2. Sex isn’t painful if you are attracted to your partner

This myth is incredibly damaging to relationships and can even lead women to fear seeking help for fear that it will be taken the wrong way by their partner. Around 27% of Brits believe this myth.

Attraction and pain during sex have nothing to do with each other. There is an unhealthy myth that attraction increases arousal, which means that sex can’t be painful. But there are many reasons that sex can be painful, and a lack of arousal is only one of these. This myth comes from the idea that a lack of natural lubrication can make sex more painful, but this is only one reason for painful sex.

It’s important to be able to communicate if sex is painful. You can then confirm if there is a medical reason for the pain. Once this is ruled out, you can explore different positions that might be less painful.

3. You know when you have an STI

Around 1 in 5 Brits believe that you’ll know when you have an STI. But this is far from the truth. You can spread STIs while in the incubation period, which is when there is an active infection that isn’t symptomatic yet. And some STIs are completely asymptomatic, so there would be no way of knowing you have it without a test. Regular testing is essential if you are switching partners and having unprotected sex. 

4. You can get an STI from the toilet

This was a common myth that circulated through schools. The idea that you could catch something from a toilet seat is a handy myth to circulate if you want teens to be afraid of the risks. But it isn’t really helpful. 

STIs do not survive for long outside of the body, so the only way to catch them is through contact with bodily fluids. While you might take STIs more seriously if you think they are more prevalent, the idea that you can catch them from a toilet seat is unhelpful.

5. Pulling out is effective for preventing pregnancy

Incredibly, 15% of Brits still believe that pulling out is an effective way to prevent pregnancy. Pulling out doesn’t guarantee protection, because there will also be sperm in the pre-ejaculation fluids. The only way to guarantee protection from unwanted pregnancy and STIs is to use a barrier method like condoms. If you’re in a committed relationship, then using contraceptive pills might be a more popular choice.

Why are these myths dangerous?

These myths show that many UK adults aren’t updating their knowledge about sex and sexual health. They learned it once in school and then they are afraid to ask questions or seek clarification. There is also the risk that individuals might be turning to sources like porn for their information about sex. This can lead to unhealthy attitudes towards sex and relationships, not to mention poor body image.

It’s important for adults to be able to have healthy conversations about sex and their sexual health. This could mean with their partner or with their healthcare provider.

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