4 Sex Myths Debunked

Libido pop quiz! How informed are you on the more out-there aspects of female sexuality?

woman with whip
(Image credit: Liz Von Hoene)

Q: Does better foreplay = better orgasm?

A: NO. Longer sex does! A recent study found our ability to orgasm depended not on foreplay but on the "quality and duration" of sex. European scientists asked 2,360 women to track whether they had orgasms, and how long they'd engaged in foreplay and actual sex, whenever they got it on. The findings? Length of intercourse was more important for orgasms than foreplay. Focusing "on vaginal sensations during intercourse" — not before — is the orgasmic secret, says Stuart Brody, Ph.D., the study's author and professor of psychology at the University of the West of Scotland. (A second study found that longer penises also contributed to orgasms. So much for that old saw about size not mattering.)


Q: Can some women really think their way to an orgasm?

A: YES. Climax without physical contact exists. Up to 10 percent of women can orgasm just by thinking about it, says Barry Komisaruk, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, who's been studying thought-induced orgasms, or "thinking off," since the 1990s. Recently, he imaged the brains of women having orgasms from physical and then mental stimulation, and concluded that the thought-induced orgasms were the real deal. The women he studied used everything from porn to auditory cues (whispered sweet nothings) to relaxing imagery (walking on the beach) to reach orgasm — and at least one didn't discover her, um, talent until her mid-30s. So could others out there unknowingly have this ability? Maybe, Komisaruk says. "The brain can do very surprising things."

Q: Does the G-spot exist?

A: NO. The G-spot might be purely fictional, according to researchers at King's College, who studied sets of twins where one sister reported a G-spot to try and find a genetic basis for the spot's existence. They came up empty. "Women reporting a G-spot were more open in their sexuality and more susceptible to sexual stimuli," says Andrea Burri, MsC, who worked on the study. "But we concluded that self-reported G-spots don't exist — or self-reporting is the wrong way to assess this." We say, get visualizing. If G-spots are all mental, then anyone can have one. And that's good news.

Q: Is there really a sex fetish involving balloons?

A: YES. Foot fetishes look positively pedestrian next to "looning," which involves sex with a balloon prop. Couples put an inflated balloon between their lower abdomens during sex, then get off on anticipating and hearing an unexpected pop. Is the horny helium craze erotic, or full of hot air? Kellogg-Spadt, of Philadelphia's Pelvic and Sexual Health Institute, says that some "paraphilias [unusual or unhealthy sexual practices] are no laughing matter. They can go from something that seems benign to criminal behavior." Not to burst your bubble, but before embracing a fetish like looning, Kellogg-Spadt suggests checking if "harm to self or others, breaking the law, or a power differential" is involved.