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10 things we get wrong about sex, according to the experts

Sexperts bust common intimacy myths involving everything from watching porn to masturbating solo when in a relationship.

Gay couple enjoying sex to illustrate sex myths article
There's so much inaccurate information about sex out in the world - so we've asked the experts to set the record straight. (Getty Images)

Size matters, orgasm is the main goal, it gets worse as you get older…These are all sex myths we’ve peddled - and they’re holding us back.

Open your mind as the sexperts tell us what we’re getting wrong and why - and watch your confidence improve.

What we get wrong about sex

1. Sex is better if it’s spontaneous

"While spontaneous desire is a wonderful thing," says psychosexual and relationship therapist, Jill le Jeune "It is more commonly experienced in the early stages of a relationship, after which desire will become more responsive, e.g. following on from something we find arousing such as touch, affection, intimacy etc."

And sometimes, the most ‘vanilla’ tried and tested positions, such as the missionary position, are the biggest turn on.

"Couples report that they like the feeling of eye-to-eye close contact of missionary position," says le Jeune. "Try enhancing this through trying to keep your eyes open at the point of orgasm (can take a bit of effort/practice!)

"We need to still enjoy intimacy in our relationship once the initial raging hormones have subsided, which is where the rather unsexy sounding 'scheduling' sex or date night can be helpful."

Ness Cooper, clinical sexologist for jejoue.com adds: "Often it takes foreplay to become aroused. Even when sex feels spontaneous we are often fantasising about it long before we do it. These thoughts act as mental foreplay, that can help with physical arousal."

2. That sex is only good when you are young

"'Good sex' is about satisfaction and quality, and this is subjective," says Kate Moyle, LELO’s sexpert and author of The Science of Sex: Every Question About Your Sex Life Answered. "Which means that good sex is possible at any age."

"We need to adapt our sex lives depending on what age and stage we are at," says Moyle. "And changing hormones obviously come into play. But, this does not have to impact the quality of sex, and in fact, adapting your sex life rather than continuing to stick with the same thing, is likely to improve sexual satisfaction."

Elder couple bodies close to each other with the man's hand stripping shoulder-strap of woman's underwear
Many people find sex is most pleasurable in the later years when both participants are more comfortable in their bodies and know what they want. (Getty Images)

3. Porn use makes you uninterested in the real thing

"Actually, studies show that individuals in relationships who view porn have a more active and enjoyable sex life. Porn doesn’t alter people’s desire to connect with a partner, and many find it helpful."

4. That our reasons for desiring sex don’t change - and that if they do does, it means there’s a problem

"Actually, research shows that there are as many as 237 reasons why humans say they have sex, meaning that on any given day, our desire for sex can be impacted on what we want to get from the experience," says Moyle. "Even if we're having sex with the same partner. It's natural that sex changes - we just never talk about it."

5. Shape and size matters

Not true, says le Jeune. "We come in all shapes and sizes, but the images we see in porn, social media or on TV/movies represent unrealistic ideals which can affect confidence.

"Penis size makes virtually no difference in heterosexual sexual satisfaction, as most women achieve more pleasure via clitoral stimulation."

5. I need to feel sexually attracted to my partner to enjoy sex

This depends how you define 'attracted'. "We tend to find our partner more or less of a turn on at different times in our lives," says Cooper.

"Feeling less attracted to a partner doesn’t mean you love them less. There are multiple ways to find someone attractive, such as their personality or an act of love they have performed. It’s unlikely we’ll be attracted to a partner in all these ways at once."

Le Jeune adds: "We place a lot of expectations on our primary relationships and it’s difficult to navigate around the different roles of co-parent, lover, supporter and expect to retain sexual chemistry at the same time."

"This is why it's important to share (verbally) what's going on for you. If you are feeling taken for granted, or are unsure you're going to be able to get an erection."

6. We are not having enough sex

"There’s a common misconception that everyone else is having more or better sex," says le Jeune. "Whereas research shows that at any given moment, around one third of partners in a long-standing relationship (defined as over two years) are sexually inactive - i.e. having sex six times a year or less."

7. Sex is all about achieving orgasm

It’s not all about the O, people. "The way our bodies age, what’s going on in the world around us all affect how long it takes for us to orgasm, of if we orgasm," says Cooper.

"In the longer term, as we navigate all that life can throw at us it can be more helpful to think of sex as sharing intimate physical connection," adds le Jeune.

7. My sexual fantasy is wrong

Wrong. "Fantasy is just that: thoughts in your head," says le Jeune. "Thinking about having sex with your friend’s partner is exciting but doesn’t indicate you will do it!"

"Interestingly, communities which report the highest levels of sexual satisfaction are kink and BDSM. This is probably because more conversations have to be had around content and consent. Like them,, we should talk more to one another our fantasies."

8. That you always have to be in the mood to have sex

Not so. "One study showed that 75% of people still had a good time when they engaged in consensual sex that they weren’t fully in the mood for," says Cooper. "Let’s face it, when we are horny does not always, or even often, match with your partner!"

So, just get it on and there’s a good chance you’ll get turned on.

Young couple lying in bed and talking about sex
Talking to your partner about what you enjoy in relation to sex will help you both have a better time. (Getty Images)

9. My partner should know what I like

"How? Are they telepathic?" asks le Jeune. "Far better to educate them as to what turns you on. It’s usually better to have this conversation outside the bedroom where emotions can run high."

"Try watching something which will provide a neutral starting point for the conversation. For example, Netflix's how to build a Sex Room is more erotic than a kitchen makeover!"

10. Masturbation when you’re in a relationship has to always involve your partner

It’s a common misconception that you can’t, or shouldn’t, masturbate alone once you’re in a relationship. This is rubbish.

"Masturbation and self-pleasure can be enjoyed with or without being in a relationship or having a partner present," says Cooper. "However, research shows individuals who masturbate often enjoy more satisfying sex lives with their partner, and find it easier to communicate what they enjoy sexually."