We think that kids believe the stupidest things, but turns out, so do adults. Throughout history, people have believed tons of crazy myths about sex, no matter how ridiculous they sound to us now. But at the time, these people thought they were right (and they probably thought they were like, really smart). I don’t mean to sound smug, because the reality is, even today people still believe a variety of sex myths. And, look, I get it. Sex can be uncomfortable. Sometimes it feels like limbs are everywhere, and it can be overall an awkward experience. For some people (not me because I publicly write about my sex life), the thought of talking about sex with their parents, friends, or doctor is scary and uncomfortable, so they turn to the internet, which we all know is not always the source of reliable information.
To be honest, as a kid, I was so uncomfortable with the idea of sex that I refused for my mom to ever give me “the talk.” Hard to believe, I know. All I can say is thank God that the internet exists, or I would definitely still believe some of my own absurd sex myths. Here is a list of some of the craziest sex myths throughout history, that you’ll have trouble believing other people even took seriously (I hope).
Farts Caused Erections
Aphrodisiacs are a beautiful thing. Oysters, chocolate, wine, etc. are considered to be aphrodisiacs. But we don’t typically think of foods that make us gassy to be foods to set the mood. But up until the 18th century, Roman physician Galen believed foods that are “warm and moist” (yuck) and “windy” (aka that make you fart) were aphrodisiacs. Spicy foods (specifically peppers), carrots, asparagus, and others were thought to get people horny. Why? Because people used to believe that erections were caused by wind inflating the penis. Oh god. I don’t even have time to get into all the ways this is wrong. I trust you all took some basic sex ed, yes?
Sneezing After Sex
People really used to believe this myth that in order to prevent pregnancy, you needed to sneeze. Greek Physician Soronus recommended a woman do squats, sneezes, and then rinse out her vagina to avoid getting pregnant. This sex myth is absurd … if I just
had sex did some exercise, I don’t want to do more exercise by doing squats. And if this were the case, no person with seasonal allergies or a cold would ever get pregnant. Honestly, I wish it were that easy—then we would never have unwanted pregnancies.
Masturbation Cures Hysteria
This sex myth is crazy. Starting in the first century A.D., hysteria was described as a female-specific illness and was a result of a “wandering womb.” So what was the cure? Doctor-induced orgasms. It was thought that an orgasm (known as hysterical paroxysm) could help cure a woman of her symptoms. As a result, the vibrator was developed to help doctors with their verrry difficult jobs. The worst part? “Hysteria” was considered a medical condition in the DSM (aka the psychiatry bible) until 1980!!! Aka 5 years after the Vietnam War ended and Jaws was released. (Ever realize that a hysterectomy is the word for when a woman’s uterus is removed? Yeah.)
You Can’t Get Pregnant From Rape
This list of sex myths could not be complete without a scarily recent one by Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin. In 2012, he told KTVI-TV that if a woman is legitimately raped, her body has a way of rejecting the sperm so she does not get pregnant. WTF?? The best part of his statement is that he said, “from what I understand from doctors.” I’m sorry, but what doctor is he talking to? Because they can’t possibly be licensed physicians. Also, don’t get me started with his use of “legitimate rape.”
Masturbating Ruins Your Eyesight
In 1758, Samuel Tissot, a Swiss physician, believed that the more semen a man lost from masturbating, the worse his eyesight would be. He wrote a whole book on the disease of masturbation. V curious about what other sex myths he believed. This sex myth also made people believe that masturbation causes a wide range of symptoms and that it is a disease in and of itself.
Periods Deform Babies
The French believed that if you had sex on your period and got pregnant, the baby would be deformed. The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation outlines the history of period myths. The book says that a baby conceived while a woman has her period will be “puny, languid, and moribund, subject to an infinity of fetid maladies, foul and stinking.” What vivid, gross imagery! There is also the myth that if you’re on your period, you can’t get pregnant. Although unlikely, it is still possible, making this among the common sex myths that people still believe. TBH people believe the craziest things about vaginas in general.
Thank god we as a society still don’t believe some of these truly ridiculous sex myths, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding the human body (and particularly the female anatomy). If nothing else, this proves we really need better sex education.
Images: Giphy (3)