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Sex myths vs facts

Sex myths vs facts
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The truth behind some of the weird and worrisome things we think about sex and our bodies.

Myth: Sex burns major kilojoules

Myth: Sex burns major kilojoules
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Truth: A 30-minute romp in the hay burns anywhere from 335 to 1255 kilojoules, depending on how long you go and how – ahem – active you make it. That may sound like a decent burn but the problem is the average sex session lasts just six minutes, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. During that short span, the biggest increase in your heart rate and blood pressure only occurs for about 15 seconds during orgasm, and then things quickly return back to normal. So if you’re burning 16 kilojoules per minute then that amounts to 100 kilojoules total – the amount in two peanut M&Ms.

Sex may not burn a lot of kilojoules – but sex can actually help you live longer.

Myth: Oysters and chocolate are turn-ons

Myth: Oysters and chocolate are turn-ons
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Truth: While oysters do contain a lot of zinc, a mineral that sperm need, no study has ever shown any sexually enhancing effect from eating oysters, according to a study published in Sexual Medicine Reviews. Similarly, the researchers found no support for chocolate as an aphrodisiac either. Dark chocolate has been linked to several health benefits, including lower blood pressure and better functioning of blood vessels, which could enhance blood flow to the penis (important for erections) but you’d have to eat an incredible amount to see any noticeable benefit. That said if a food makes a person think about sex – whether because it resembles intimate anatomy, as oysters might, or even because the person believes it might be an aphrodisiac – then that food might become an aphrodisiac, says Fran Walfish, PhD, psychotherapist, and author.

Myth: There’s a 10-year difference between women’s and men’s sexual peaks

Myth: There’s a 10-year difference between women’s and men’s sexual peaks
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Truth: This myth stems from old research done by sex research pioneer Alfred Kinsey. He found that men had the most orgasms at around age 18, but women had their highest number of orgasms in their 30s. There are two things to note about this, says Wendy Patrick, JD, PhD, an attorney, relationship counsellor and author. First, just because a young man is having orgasms doesn’t mean he’s having sex. Second, it was the 1950s and women weren’t exactly encouraged to be sexual, much less get pleasure from it. But if we believe frequency of sex to be the factor that matters most in sexual peak, then there’s no difference between men and women, with both genders having the most sex during their 20s, according to the International Society for Sexual Medicine. Sexual desire constantly fluctuates and is related to many more factors than age, Dr. Patrick says.

Here are 5 ways sex could save your life. 

Myth: Sex can give you a heart attack

Myth: Sex can give you a heart attack
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Truth: Many men (and women) have worried about the effects of a vigorous romp on their heart, especially as they get older. But sex does not increase your risk of a heart attack and, in fact, having sex more often is linked to better heart health, according to research published by Harvard Medical School. But what if your heart already has problems? The reality is that most people just do not exert themselves that much during sex – the Harvard researchers found that simply walking on a treadmill got men’s heart rates up higher than a sex session.

Here are some more myths debunked about sex after 50. 

Myth: Wearing socks during sex is a mood killer

Myth: Wearing socks during sex is a mood killer
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Truth: Danish researchers attempted to do brain scans on men and women while their partners tried to give them an orgasm, in a study published in NeuroImage. Apparently, it was drafty in the scanning room and the cold was making it difficult for their subjects to enjoy themselves. So they gave them socks. Lo and behold, once they had warm feet, 80 percent of couples were able to orgasm as opposed to less than half previously, explained lead author Gert Holstege. No one is sure exactly why this works but one theory is that in order to orgasm, you need to be totally relaxed and anxiety-free, and cold feet can interfere with the ability to really get into sex, especially for women, says Walfish.

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Myth: Men think about sex every seven seconds

Myth: Men think about sex every seven seconds
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Truth: A recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research effectively debunks this myth. Looking to tally up the true number of times men (and women!) actually thought about sex in a day, the university had 238 students keep track of their thoughts about food, sex, or sleep for one whole week. The results? Men think about sex far less than you think, averaging about 19 sex thoughts per day instead of the nearly 8,000 thoughts per day that would be netted if men were really thinking about sex every seven seconds. Thoughts about food came in close second, with 18 thoughts per day, while sleep garnered 11 thoughts per day. As for the women? They averaged about 10 thoughts about sex, 15 thoughts about food, and 8.5 thoughts about sleep per day.

Myth: All women experience orgasm through intercourse

Myth: All women experience orgasm through intercourse
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Truth: “Around half of heterosexual women sometimes orgasm as a result of penetration alone but the other half either require added clitoral stimulation or other sexual activities in order to climax,” says Justin Lehmiller, PhD, a research fellow at The Kinsey Institute and author of a study on sexual fantasies and the book Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life. Research, published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, backs this up, finding that 37 percent of women said they need some other sort of stimulation during intercourse to achieve orgasm.

Think your sex life is over after 40? Hardly!

Myth: Sex can affect sports performance

Myth: Sex can affect sports performance
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Truth: This theory has been debated for many years, with coaches often telling their athletes to abstain from sex before big games or competitions. The idea comes from Ancient Greece and traditional Chinese medicine, with the prevailing thought being that not having sex would help “increase frustration and aggression, and boost energy.” However, recent research, published in Frontiers in Physiology, suggests sex has little impact on athletic performance – and could possibly have a positive effect instead.

Myth: Having sex can cause a pregnant woman to go into labour

Myth: Having sex can cause a pregnant woman to go into labour
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This myth is so pervasive that even doctors will tell their full-term patients to give it a try. But not only does having sex near your due date not start labour, it may actually delay it, according to a study done by the Ohio State University Medical Center. Researchers found that women who were sexually active in the final three weeks of their pregnancies carried their babies an average of 39.9 weeks, compared to 39.3 weeks for women who weren’t having any sex. It’s not a huge difference but when you’ve got a 3kg ball pressing against your lungs, every day counts!

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