Well, summer’s over. Unfortunately, it’s time to bid a fond farewell to the GTL lifestyle…and say hello to overnights in Bapst (and we don’t mean the kind where sleep is involved). On the other hand, the start of the school year means new blog entries from us! While it may seem like a poor exchange, sooner or later you’ll be thanking us. After all, no one but BCSSH is better equipped to help you on your quest for safe, informed, and ridiculously fun sex.
For those of you who are new to this blog, or those who could use a refresher course, Boston College Students for Sexual Health consists of several mind-blowingly awesome students who like to stand around on the sidewalks near Upper Campus and hand out condoms. Yes, we’re those people. (You’re welcome, by the way.) Handing out condoms isn’t all we do, however. We’re a group dedicated to promoting informed decisions and an open dialogue on sex and sexuality within the Boston College community. You might recognize us from some of our recent events and programs, including Freshman Conversations, Sex Toy Bingo and Sex Trivia, Responsible Party Kits for BC’s weekend warriors, and managing to hold regular condom distributions despite the valiant efforts of some to ensure otherwise.
To kick off the new semester, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common sex myths floating around out there. It’s Mythbusters: The Sex Edition, only without videos of us debunking these myths. Sorry.
MYTH #1: If you have sex, you will get pregnant and die.
FACT: Although it’s happened before, you are unlikely to die while having sex. However, if you have sex, you may very well become pregnant and be at risk of exposing yourself to STI’s. As always, abstinence is the only 100% fail-proof birth control. For those of us who find the celibate life unappealing, though, your best bet at avoiding an unwanted pregnancy is using multiple forms of birth control. We’ll talk more about safe sex in future blogs; for now, check out our website.
MYTH #2: “It’s my first time, so I can’t get pregnant!” Slash, “I’m on my period! That’s when the eggs leave my body, right? So, there’s nothing to worry about…right?”
FACT: There is no truth whatsoever behind either of these statements, and whoever made them up should be forced to spend the rest of their lives changing the diapers of all of the babies created as a result of this myth. If anyone tells you that you can’t get pregnant because [insert ridiculous excuse here], hold your ground. You can get pregnant any time you have sex*, which is why you need to be prepared.
* Yes, even on your period. To those of you who don’t mind a bit of bloody sex (you brave souls, you), be warned: you still need to use at least one method of birth control to prevent an unwanted pregnancy – not to mention STIs.
MYTH #3: We’ve had sex before, so I have his/her consent.
FACT: Wrong. A partner must give clear consent for each sexual act each time it happens. A person can say “no” at any time, even if he/she has said “yes” before. Also – this is important – a person can withdraw consent at any time, even in the middle of a sex act. Note: this does not make him/her a “tease.”
MYTH #4: Sexual activity under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is okay as long as my partner says yes.
FACT: Legally, a person cannot consent to sex or sexual activity while intoxicated. This isn’t to say that sex is completely out of the question once someone has had a drink – but, as we all know, there’s a difference between slightly buzzed and falling down drunk. Pro tip: if a person is unable to stand, can barely talk, or is vomiting or unconscious, they are NOT capable of consenting. Ask yourself, “Do I usually make reasonable decisions when I drink?” If the answer is yes, you may not have too much to worry about. Remember, though, that you can never make this judgment for anyone else, and these decisions are always better made sober.
MYTH #5: “My boyfriend’s too big for a condom.”
FACT: When I was in high school, my health teacher – a six-foot tall, just under two hundred pounds guy – pulled a condom on over his arm, all the way up to his elbow. Ladies and gentlemen, if you are considering having sex with a man whose penis is bigger than my health teacher’s arm, you might want to rethink that. Your internal organs will thank you. On the other hand, if his penis is not bigger than my health teacher’s arm, then he might be trying to get out of wearing a condom…in which case you still might want to rethink having sex with him. If he’s really insistent, consider pointing him in the direction of some magnum-sized condoms. If he still resists, it might be helpful to remind him that sex with a condom is much more pleasurable than no sex at all. If even that fails, show him the door. He clearly values his sexual pleasure over your sexual health, and that kind of guy is never worth it.
MYTH #6: Condoms and the pill are the only options for birth control.
FACT: While condoms and pills tend to hog the spotlight, there are plenty of other viable options when it comes to birth control. Though abstinence is the only 100% effective means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy and STIs, those who choose to be sexually active have a wide array of options when it comes to birth control: use-’em-as-you-go types such as a diaphragm, male/female condoms (no kidding!), or a cervical cap; methods requiring a bit more maintenance, such as the pill, a birth control patch, or a vaginal ring; and then the long-term solutions such as the birth control implant or an intrauterine device (“IUD”). All of these options lower the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. (Note: “pulling out,” while effective when done properly, is not recommended for the sexually inexperienced, men who have difficulty determining when they will orgasm, or, we’d imagine, the slightly tipsy.) It should be remembered, however, that male and female condoms are the only effective methods of preventing STI transmission.
Partners should understand and discuss their options and ultimately settle on the method with which they are most comfortable. Remember: although safer sex is a joint task, your sexual health is ultimately in your hands. Still have questions? You can read more about the birth control choices we’ve mentioned on the Planned Parenthood website, ortry their ‘My Method’ tool to help you determine what works best for you.
MYTH #7: I’ve had unprotected sex, but everything looks/feels fine, so I don’t have an STI.
FACT: Anyone who has had unprotected sex should get tested for STIs, stat. Many infections can lie dormant for years, so even if you are symptom-free, you could still pass it on to others or face more serious consequences later on. There are tons of resources available for getting tested on campus or in the greater Boston community. (The Planned Parenthood Health Center is only a T ride away.)
MYTH #8: If I ask my partner to get tested, he/she will think I don’t trust him/her.
FACT: While you can’t change what you or your partner have done before you met, you can control your sexual relationship together now. Getting tested isn’t a blame game, it’s a healthy and responsible investment in yourselves. In fact, consider making a day of it! Grab some lunch, get tested together, then celebrate your (hopefully clean) results by having lots of awesome sex. Don’t forget to use protection, and please be considerate of your neighbors.
MYTH #9: I don’t have to use a condom/dental dam during oral or anal sex because they’re safer.
FACT: There is no such thing as “safer” sex without protection. STIs can be transmitted via any mucous membrane or cut that comes into contact with bodily fluids (that includes the mouth, anus, eyes, or even that tiny paper cut – ahem, battle scar – from your Bapst study marathon). If you’re going to touch it, wrap it.
P.S. For those of you who don’t find the taste of latex appealing, we’ve got two words: flavored condoms. Yeah, oral sex just got that much better.
MYTH #10: Since my school doesn’t support premarital sex, I don’t have any resources or support available to me.
FACT: If you’re looking for information, safer sex materials, or someone to talk to, come to a BCSSH meeting or visit one of our safe sites on campus. You can find a list of safe site locations here. Check out our website for more!
Peace, Love, and Lube,
BC Students for Sexual Health