Science Debunked: Six Strange Sex Myths
Ever wondered how many of those insane sex stories you hear during university are actually true? We’re lucky enough to live in a society where sex can be openly discussed, but there are still some absurd sexual myths told throughout the world. Funnily enough, some of them are sometimes true.
Luckily, scientists are working diligently to sort the fact from the fiction of sex. Disproving the myths, below are six debunked sex myths, showing that those old wives’ tales are often more than uncomfortably literal.
Myth #1: Sex can cause blindness
Despite all those crazy atheists telling us masturbation is safe, your mother may have been right after all when telling you that it can make you go blind. Sort of.
Fact: It’s been proven that it’s possible to have an orgasm so aggressive that it induces loss of vision. This distressing blindness at the peak of the action, known ominously as amaurosis fugax, mercifully only tends to last a few minutes before normal vision is restored.
Bizarrely, it also only tends to happen in one eye. Doctors aren’t sure why this happens, but it’s speculated that a particular kind of exertion that people tend to experience during orgasm can dam the blood vessels in the eye; some patients have been cured by taking blood-thinning medications before sex.
Myth #2: A penis can break (with audible snap)
“Surely not? It’s not like there’s any bones to break…”
Fact: Well no, but there are two cylinders of tissue that become rigid during erection, and if a woman lands on these in the wrong way, the penis can fracture with an “audible cracking sound”.
Interestingly, penile fracture is more likely to occur when a male is being unfaithful, according to researcher Dr. Andrew Kramer at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Dr. Kramer reasons that this is due to illicit sex being more likely to happen in unusual places or ways, and the commonly awkward positions cause the males to be more prone to this painful end.
Needless to say, penile fracture demands immediate medical attention and will probably always require surgery. Cases of embarrassment may be outweighed with memoirs of sexual athleticism and acrobatics.
Myth #3: Hickeys can cause strokes and paralysis
Hickeys, or love bites to the older generation, are long-lasting marks caused by suction on the skin, supposedly a sign of affection. Pretty weird when written out like that. Even weirder and off-putting, they can apparently cause strokes.
Fact: There is evidence of a healthy Maori woman suffering a stroke due to a hickey on her neck right next to a major artery. The hickey had been so violent it had bruised her major artery, which then clotted to the event of a stroke and potential paralysis.
Doctors can’t find any other recorded examples, but that is not to say it has not occurred, with no connection made. Should stroke victims be checked for hickeys in future?
Myth #4: Semen can transmit food allergens
It’s true that some people are allergic to semen, some men are even allergic to their own semen. But it can’t be feasible for food allergies to be triggered by semen, surely…
Fact: Not only can semen cause allergic reactions itself, causing swelling and itching or flu-like symptoms, but food allergies can also be triggered by semen. If the male has recently ingested a substance his partner is allergic to, it’s possible his semen can cause what is coined a sexually transmitted allergic reaction.
A young British woman with nut allergies suffered widespread hives and impaired breathing in 2007 after having sex with her boyfriend, who had recently eaten brazil nuts.
Despite having showered and brushed his teeth to avoid causing his girlfriend an allergic reaction, his semen still carried the nutty remains of his bar snacks. Her reactivity was tested via the ‘Skin prick testing’ method, where samples of the male’s semen (before and after he ate brazil nuts) were injected under her skin.
This may seem a bit strange, but it’s a standard allergy test procedure administered by doctors, also done with bread mold and ground up dust mites.
Myth #5: People can definitely get stuck together
There are sometimes stories told of men getting stuck during the act. It seems like the stupidest of horror sex stories, but sometimes even they have a kernel of truth to them.
Fact: This is a case of the rarely documented but not unknown phenomenon called penis captivus (no need for Latin fluency to figure that one out).
Rumours of this ‘captivation’ have existed for centuries, and there are known stories of couples getting stuck together, even needing to be carried on a single stretcher into hospital.
Modern medicine dismissed the idea for a long time, but now experts say all it takes is for a female’s nether regions to tighten in such a way as to create a form of vice. Fortunately for us humans, this only tends to last for a few seconds, but other animals can experience the problem for much longer.
If you would like further illustration, there are many, many videos on YouTube of it happening to dogs, but we don’t recommend it.
Myth #6: Cheating can cause injury or death
This isn’t a case of karma coming back around. Penis fractures seem to be a light escape for some unfaithful partners.
Urban legends about infidelity causing death have circulated for eternity, for no other reason than to discourage immoral behaviour for fear of God’s smiting. But some clever scientists have now shown that biology has a part to play here.
Fact: Studies have shown that around 1% of sudden deaths occur during some bedroom shenanigans. However, of that group, almost all of them were being unfaithful to their significant partner. It was also a trend to see older males dying whilst with much younger women.
The logic is not hard to follow, similar to penis breaks, older men in midlife crisis adultery mode will be out to impress, whilst full of excitement and feeling fearful of getting caught. This all cumulatively causes too much stress for the heart or whichever of their weaker organs. Before they know it, they’ve thrust their way off the mortal coil.
Adulterers and adulteresses, you have been warned.
Author: Alice Hargreaves Jones
Illustration: Charlotte Summers