Sex column: 5 myths about sexual hygiene and pleasure busted

Whether a woman expresses it or not, one thing no one would like is a partner who is unhygienic or smelly or worse, infected

sexual hygiene

Whether a woman expresses it or not, one thing no one would like is a partner who is unhygienic or smelly or worse, infected! According to Dr Kersi Chavda, Psychiatrist at Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai, txday women are more vocal about what they expect from their partner, which wasn’t the case 10-15 years ago. While this is an encouraging sign, there are still many myths surrounding safe sex and hygiene. One of the most bizarre questions 

Dr Chavda received was from a young man who was about to get married. He asked whether he needed to take off the condom every time he penetrated and then wear it back. 

You can laugh all you want at that guy’s query, but there may be issues that you wonder about but hesitate to openly discuss it with your partner because of the taboo surrounding these topics.

Let’s delve into some of these issues and clear up any misconceptions.

Also read: Sex column: Does alcohol help lubricate your sex life because of lowered inhibitions?

hygiene for women

Unknown = Abnormal

Is it normal for a penis to lean? Is it ok to have a vaginal secretion when aroused? For those who know it, these questions seem absurd. For others, the answer is yes and yes. Often, we think that something is weird or not normal when it comes to sex and anatomy because we have not come across a certain shape, size or type of activity. 

Says Dr Duru Shah, Gynaecologist, Director Gynaec World, “People have false impressions about how the size of the breasts or the penis have a lot to do with sexual pleasure. They seek silicone implants or want to increase their penis size. It is not the size but the nerve endings that are responsible for the pleasure.” Porn, she says, is the culprit for these beliefs and also for unrealistic expectations. “There have been couples who have come to me because their partner forced them to watch porn and expects to do the same things when they have sex. I have had women cry because their partner expects to spank or pinch them or perform any other activity that they don’t consider pleasurable at all.”

Even if the partner is not demanding, people may have unrealistic self beliefs if they fall prey to the popular notions of what is normal or not when it comes to sexual attraction. Sexuality educator and counsellor Niyati Shah shares the case of a woman who was convinced that her partner would find her unattractive because of her small breasts even though he was fine with it. Another woman did not get her husband’s foot fetish and confessed that she just waited for him to finish sucking her toes and playing with her feet.

Seems like these issues could be resolved with a simple conversation but that is the one thing most people are reluctant to do. The problem, Niyati feels, is that women are not comfortable talking to their partners because of fear of being judged. In an intimacy survey she conducted, the biggest concern of most women was what their partners think. They didn’t want their partners to wonder “How does she know this? Has she been sleeping around? What is she upto?” 

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Intact Hymen = Sexual Inexperience

There are women who don’t have a hymen or whose hymen is ruptured or even if it is intact, there may be no bleeding. Niyati informs that there are women who are not even aware of how many orifices there are. “One of the women in my workshops said that she discovered the childbirth passage on the delivery table after she asked the gynaec why she is not experiencing any sensation in her butt.”

Lack of knowledge about the anatomy often leads to such misconceptions and even today there are communities where the bed sheets are checked after the wedding night to get proof of innocence. 

The pressure to bleed can lead to women opting for a procedure called a hymenoplasty where the hymen is constructed surgically to feel like a barrier. Even though it is a physical process, it can take an emotional toll. Dr Chavda reveals that hymenoplasty sometimes leads to guilt and the women end up confessing all to their husbands who are then unable to face the situation. 

Also, is an intact hymen really proof of sexual inexperience? After all, one can give pleasure to a partner and oneself in a thousand different ways without even touching the hymen. 

Also read: Sex tip: Do people seek sex outside marriage when they are not happy with their spouse?

No Labia = Heightened Pleasure

What is a clitoris? Where is it found? How does one stimulate the clitoris? From doctors to men’s magazines, there have been many experts who have tried to answer these questions for every sexual debutante. No wonder there are 5,71,00,000 results on Google when you look up the word clitoris.

And for those who want to singularly focus on the clitoris, surgery seems to be one of the options. Dr Shah explains, “There is a myth that when the labia majora or the external thick part of the genitalia is removed, then the clitoris will stick out and it will lead to more pleasure. But, it is not at all recommended and we (the gynaecological fraternity) regard it as a mutilation and not a necessary procedure. Even though people get it done for cosmetic reasons, it is a procedure that could go horribly wrong.  Sometimes there may be excessive bleeding during the surgery or there may be scarring or infection after. So you can’t take these procedures lightly.”

Apart from this, a surgical procedure that women opt for is a vaginoplasty. This is done for many reasons, especially to fix problems such as uterine prolapse. However, women may choose to get a vaginoplasty to tighten the vagina so that their sexual pleasure is enhanced. And there is nothing wrong with that, according to Dr Shah.

Another type of surgery which is usually done for religious purposes is male circumcision. But, this is also a good practice on health grounds because it becomes easier to clean the area as the fluids don’t gather under the foreskin, says Dr Shah.

hygiene

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Hairless = Hygienic 

One of the biggest myths when it comes to sexual hygiene is that pubic hair is dirty! According to Dr Shah, “Women tend to wax or shave to remove pubic hair completely because they think it is unhygienic. But it is better to trim the hair than to shave because shaving can lead to infection of the hair follicle. If one must shave the pubic area, then she recommends the use of disposable razors instead of reusable ones that can trap the bacteria.”

Douching is popular among women who feel that it is a way to keep the vagina clean and their partners also encourage the same. But this is a big NO for Dr Shah. Washing up the secretions after sex is fine but it is not compulsory. And peeing after sex is also fine, but contrary to popular opinion, it does not ensure that a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is washed away.

That brings us to one of the most popular myths of all.

Also read: Sex tips for men: What is your partner thinking of during sex?

Clean = Safe

When it comes to sexual hygiene and pleasure, one of the biggest myths is cleanliness! If you are in a monogamous relationship and getting tested regularly, you may be willing to bet that there is no risk of infection, but what about birth control? 

According to women who have been around on dating apps, “I am particular about hygiene” is usually code for “I don’t like to use condoms!” And if you are one of the guys who thinks cleanliness and overall body hygiene is enough to ward off infections, think again!

While there are certain external signs of STIs like a foul odour, genital warts or a weird discharge, not all STIs are apparent at a glance. You may contract Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), chlamydia or Human Papillomavirus (HPV), if you don’t use a condom! And that means also using a condom or dental dam during oral sex!

Remember, we as a nation had to learn about sanitisation and basic hygiene thanks to a global pandemic. One can only hope this extends to overall sexual hygiene and that hygiene is not to be confused with absence of infection! 

Also read: Sex column: Real women reveal their biggest turn offs

Signs of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) 

* Greenish, yellow or blood stained discharge

* Foul odour

* Warts around the vagina

* Inflammation, swelling, redness

Don’t use a condom or dental dam during oral sex because he/she looks clean?

Practice safe sex, not only during penetrative intercourse, but during any sexual activity!

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