Art imitates life, though Hollywood’s imitation of sex is often a crude copy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good rom-com, and I may or may not be on my second viewing of True Blood, but sometimes I just don’t get it. The sex on TV is not the sex in real life, be it on Showtime or the Hallmark channel. It’s time to set the record straight and for some sex health 101.
1) Vaginal penetration is not the gold-standard for orgasm
The history and fallacies surrounding vaginal-only orgasm could fill a novel, and have.1 If you are interested in a shortened version check out this fun musical rendition. We’ll leave the social commentary and just talk about the simple facts. The vagina is just one of many erogenous zones that can lead to orgasm. And conventional heterosexual penetrative intercourse is not the only way to get there. Biology can help lead us down some alternative paths. The vagina, a passageway from the outside world to the uterus, is built more for transport than sensation. The sensory map for the vagina is very vague and follows the visceral sensation back to the brain. Think about it, would you want to have precise sensation for tissue that needs to stretch >3x its normal size for birth3 I don’t think so. Now, the clitoris on the other hand, no pun intended, has the highest density and precision of receptors in the whole body.4 All bodies in fact, as the glans clitoris has almost five times the receptor density as the glans penis.5 Since the glans clitoris is on the outside of the pubic bone, it is not stimulated during penetration alone. And the clitoris is just one option on a road to orgasm. Check out this blog to get some more ideas. Or take a look here to learn how sex is more than just a P in a V.
2) Sex on the beach, a tasty drink, yes, an enjoyable experience, I think not, more like sandpaper in the crotch
Now what is more romantic than the sunset, a lover’s embrace, waves lapping at your feet, and sand…getting everywhere. For the brave who have tried, you would find that it’s not so comfortable, for either party. Genital tissue is thin and sensitive for a reason, so if anything rough is rubbed on it over and over again…well you can imagine the ramifications. Also, chemical irritants can wreak havoc on genital tissue, especially the vagina. This brings me to those hot and steamy pool scenes. The pool- fine to swim in, the labia provide a type of leak-proof seal. Unfortunately with penetrative sex, chlorine, and other pool floaties, get a little too up close and personal. The vagina has a delicate hormonal and bacterial balance that maintains its pH at a happy 3.8. It even has its own cleaning system. Throwing chlorinated water, a strong sanitizer with a pH 7.2, or pretty much anything into the vagina, can cause problems. For a little more info about what makes for good vaginal health, take a look at our most popular blog: How your vagina is supposed to smell, 50,000 reads and counting.
3) The walk of shame is not the only repercussion of an unprotected one-night stand
The walk of shame may be enough of a deterrent for some, but there are a couple other reasons you may want to rethink unprotected stranger sex.. One is fairly obvious…pregnancy. There are few movies that broach the subject. Obvious Child and Knocked Up use this “unexpected” plot twist to show viewers the “comical” experience of unplanned pregnancy. There are also more true-to-life renditions, like Precious or this BuzzFeedYellow film. However, these seem to be more the exception than the norm. Another missed opportunity for theatrical conflict, STIs! In the top 200 films of all time (rated by IMDB), there was only one mention of condom use, and that was just in reference to birth control.6 I’m more of a rotten tomatoes fan myself, but you get the point. This, along with the recent rejection of California’s Prop 60 condom mandate for pornographic films, exemplifies how condoms aren’t seen as sexy and STIs are not considered a serious health risk. This is even more disparate from reality since in the US we are seeing a 20-year record high in the number of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases.7 And these rates just keep increasing each year. All this to say, can we please just have a movie with a dude who puts on a condom for some good clean fun…I think Ryan Gosling could make it work.
4) Not all good sex is easy sex
Hopefully this isn’t too surprising. Not all holes are created equal. Sometimes it takes a little maneuvering to get the angle right. I chuckle every time someone just slips in during penetrative sex- especially if it’s a first-time kind of deal. In the real world, it’s normal to have to recalibrate to match your partner. That’s part of what makes sex fun. Also if you need something to grease the wheels a bit, which is normal too, try some lubrication. Young and old alike, lube is your friend. But before you reach for the KY, check out some better recommendations for a good time. Also, sex is messy, so sex requires clean up. If I chuckle at the slip-in, I LOL at the roll over and go to sleep when it’s all done. Umm, does every starlet have a UTI and a wet spot she curls up in? And does every hero have a split stream? It’s not that unreasonable to add a little girl-sitting-on-the-toilet pee scene, à la Girls, or if that is too crude, how about a shower scene to get everything spic and span and sexy. Remember, we’re talking just water here, no soap in the nether regions, please.
5) Sex is not just for the young, beautiful and belly-free
This is more of a comment on Hollywood as a whole. I’m sure we can all agree that what we see on TV does not match what we see on real bodies. And, no, Gwyenth’s egg is not going to get you there (you know I had to fit that in somewhere 😉 ). But I just want to remind everyone that sex is for everyone. It looks different for everyone. Whether we’re talking intercourse, or outercourse….uppercourse or lowercourse, let it be consensual, let be fun and let it be real. So go get yours!
- Gerhard J. Revisiting “the myth of the vaginal orgasm”: The female orgasm in American sexual thought and Second wave feminism. Feminist Studies. 2000;26(2):449. doi:10.2307/3178545
- Munarriz R, Kim N, Goldstein I, Traish A. Biology of female sexual function. Boston University School of Medicine. http://www.bumc.bu.edu/sexualmedicine/physicianinformation/biology-of-female-sexual-function/. Accessed January 10, 2017.
- Ashton-Miller JA, DeLancey JOL. On the Biomechanics of vaginal birth and common Sequelae. Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering. 2009;11(1):163–176. doi:10.1146/annurev-bioeng-061008-124823.
- Winkelmann R. The Erogenous Zones: Their Nerve Supply and Significance. Proceedings of the Staff Meetings of the Mayo Clinic. 1959;34(2):39–47.
- Shih C, Cold CJ, Yang CC. Cutaneous corpuscular receptors of the human Glans Clitoris: Descriptive characteristics and comparison with the Glans Penis. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2013;10(7):1783–1789. doi:10.1111/jsm.12191.
- Boseley S. Sex, lies and celluloid: Doctors hit out at Hollywood. The Guardian. October 3, 2005. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2005/oct/03/health.aids1. Accessed January 12, 2017.
- Tello M. Sexually transmitted infections on the rise. Harvard Health Publications. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sexually-transmitted-infections-on-the-rise-2016112810653. Accessed January 12, 2017.