Anyone who knows me knows that I’m kind of preachy. It’s in my nature. Actually, it’s in my major, too, since Community Health is all about promoting healthy ideas and preventing bad health outcomes—these both require me to harp on other people about what they do with their bodies.
So it makes sense that when I see other young college-educated adults perpetuating entirely false misconceptions about sex, I feel the need to speak up. Whether we admit to it or not, sex is a part of daily life for every single one of us. We see the sexual assault posters every time we go to the bathroom on campus. Almost all of the media we consume on a regular basis has some relation to sexuality. And a lot of us (although not as many as you think) participate in some kind of sexual activity at least occasionally.
That’s why I think it’s so amazingly important that we stop believing these misconceptions. When you believe false things about something as integral to life as sex, it can put you at risk for a lot of things, like STIs or low self-esteem. Because I want IU to be a healthy and happy campus, I’ve done the research to make sure you get the right information to make that happen. Here’s the myths and misconceptions we debunked….
1. College students are having sex all day, every day. (except for my lonely self)
Sorry, my self-deprecating peer, this simply isn’t true. The fact of the matter is, your friends aren’t getting laid as much as you think they are. About 27% of students haven’t had sex in the past 30 days, and 30% have never had sex at all. This isn’t even going into statistics regarding oral and anal sex, or even just making out. College students aren’t having sex for many reasons; it could be because they don’t want to, their partner doesn’t want to, they haven’t found the right person, etc. But one thing is for sure: if you want it to happen, it probably will in due time, since only .3% of people consider themselves virgins at the age of 40 and older.
2. You can’t gets STIs unless you’re sleeping around a lot.
This absolutely isn’t true. A lot of people have gotten STIs, and some of them have only been with one partner ever or have just forgotten a condom one time (plus those claim it feels better without one). Thanks to the good ol’ Center for Disease Control, we know that basically every sexually active person in the US will get a form of HPV at some point in their lives. Combine that information with the fact that there are almost 20 million new cases of STIs per year in the US, it’s probably safe to assume that getting an STI is a pretty common occurrence. And because 48% of us don’t get tested for STIs regularly and many of these infections have no super crazy symptoms, even more people could be getting infected than we thought—yes, this means you. So do yourself a favor and be safe and get tested, even if you’re not sleeping with a different partner every Thursday-Saturday night. Just remember you wont get sick if you wrap that dick!
3. Everyone wears condoms, so I’m probably safe to go without every once in a while.
Okay, except everyone else is thinking the same thing as you. Basically, everyone is under the assumption that if everyone else takes charge of their sexual health, then this will protect them. In fact, it’s estimated that about 1/3 of college students never use condoms and still regularly have sex. In regards to pregnancy, even if you’re on the pill, you’re probably not perfect about taking it so it’s probably only about 92% effective in preventing pregnancy; plus, we now know that the actual act of intercourse can increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant all by itself. And STIs? Our age group is responsible for about 10 of those 20 million cases of them I mentioned earlier. So please, for the love of all that is healthy, get yourself and your partner tested and cap it before you tap it.
4. If you’re a guy, you can’t really be raped, especially by a girl.
I have heard this quite a bit lately and frankly, I am tired of hearing it. Not only is it possible, it’s actually somewhat frequent, unfortunately. Despite gender-based definitions for rape and sexual assault being widely used, many people are coming together to agree that these crimes are more about a loss of power and invasion of privacy and less about a male perpetrator and female victim. Some researchers have found 1 in 20 men have been forced to penetrate during sexual activity. And others estimate that as many as 1 in 10 men will face some sort of sexual abuse before the age of 18. If you click through those links, you’ll also find info that sexual assault against males doesn’t have to do with sexuality—straight, cisgender men are victims, as well as trans or gay/bi men.
5. As long as I abstain from sex, I’m protected against all the bad stuff.
I know a lot of us were given abstinence-only sex ed, and all we ever heard was that the only sure-fire way to prevent STIs and pregnancy is by not having sex. This is somewhat true, since it’s virtually impossible to get pregnant without intercourse, but this doesn’t take into account that you can be abstinent from intercourse and still have oral sex or various other sexual activity. That’s a big problem—this doesn’t really cover the fact that the definition of abstinence may vary from person to person. It also doesn’t address the other forms of sex that can pass on STIs. So, if you’re performing oral sex but not having intercourse, you’re definitely putting yourself at risk for getting something like the herp or the clap, (unless you’re using some sort of barrier, which only about 5% use during oral sex.) Basically, don’t mislead yourself into thinking you’re safe just because you’re not having SEX sex. Keep some of this article’s statistics in mind the next time you’re sexually active in any way.