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Sexual health vs. sexual myths

Diane Gallagher
Assoc. Features Editor

Learning more about sex, and sexual health should be an easy task with all the technology available to us. But studies have shown that a lot of the information found on the internet is either filled with errors, omissions or out-of-date advice. This leads to misinformation being spread and causes sexual health myths to circulate and start to be believed by many.
Here are a few sexual health myths that need to be corrected:
• You can catch an STD from a toilet seat: Sexually transmitted diseases or infections cannot live outside the body for a long period of time.

The internet is full of misinformation when it comes to sexual health.
The internet is full of misinformation when it comes to sexual health.

• A Woman can’t get pregnant during her period: It is highly unlikely; however it still possible for a woman to get pregnant during her period, especially if no form of contraceptive, such as condoms or birth control, is being used. Some women have periods that last long enough to overlap with the beginning of ovulation. This means they can be fertile even though they are menstruating.
• The “morning after” pill causes an abortion: Plan B, also called the “morning after” pill, is not the same as RU-486, a pill that causes an abortion. If a woman takes Plan B when she is already pregnant, a fertilized egg has attached to the wall of her uterus, it will have no effect on the woman or fetus.
• Birth control pills make you gain weight: Many clinical trials have been performed with the same inability to prove any correlation between oral contraceptives and weight gain. The only type of contraceptive that may cause weight gain is injectable depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), commonly known as the birth control shot. In a study published in March 2009, University of Texas researchers linked the shot to an average 11 pound weight gain over three years.

Talking to your doctor about sexual health is always the best source of information.
Talking to your doctor about sexual health is always the best source of information.

Now that some of the myths have been put to rest, here are some of the health benefits of sex:
• Sex boosts your immune system: Researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that college students who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of an antibody compared to students who had sex less often.
• Sex improves female bladder control: Good sex is like a workout for the pelvic floor muscles. When a woman has an orgasm, it causes contractions in those muscles, which strengthens them. A strong pelvic floor is important for avoiding incontinence, any involuntary leakage of urine, something that will affect 30% of women at some point in their lives.
• Sex is a great workout: Sex burns approximately five calories per minute while increasing your heart rate and using various muscles.
• Sex decreases pain: Orgasms release a hormone that helps raise your pain threshold.
• Sex improves sleep: The hormone prolactin is released after orgasm which is responsible for the feelings of relaxation and sleepiness.
• Sex reduces stress: Being close and intimate with your partner can soothe stress and anxiety.

International Education Week

The best place to get information about sexual health is from a doctor. But if you are feeling anxious over talking to someone face-to-face about these private matters, there are reliable resources available on sexual health. A few resources to utilize are:
• Go Ask Alice: (http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/) a question-and-answer service maintained by Columbia University.
• Savvy Women Magazine :(http://www.savvy-women-magazine.com/Love/sex-facts.php) a magazine dedicated to sharing facts about sex and other stuff that is helpful to know.
• Everyday Health: (http://www.everydayhealth.com/conditions/sexual-health) a website full of sexual health advice as well as other daily health questions.