Much was revealed in Martha Stewart's AMA on Reddit last weekend. She admitted that she would like to be closer friends with Snoop Dog. She denied rumors that she and Gwyneth Paltrow are on bad terms. And she revealed a strange bit of sex advice that she follows religiously: take a bath before and after.
I am all about following Stewart's table-scaping or cookie-baking advice, but I'm not so sure about her insistence on bathing before and after sex. In fact, it's just one of many sex hygiene myths floating out there in the world. The following is a list of widely-held beliefs regarding sexual hygiene, some of which are fact, some of which are fiction.
1. You should take a bath before and after sex.
FICTION. First of all, who has the time to take two baths in one day? Second, there have been no studies showing that pre- or post-sex cleansing minimizes the risk of sexually transmitted disease. If it makes you feel more confident, well, then go right ahead.
2. Having sex while you're on your period is dirty.
FICTION. Again, every woman should decide for herself whether or not she's comfortable having sex while menstruating — but there's absolutely nothing dirty or "unclean" about it, despite what many religious texts maintain. (There are still cultures that prohibit contact with menstruating women.) However, it's important to be extra careful about using protection when you're on your period; the cervix opens up for the menstrual fluid to pass through, letting bacteria travel more easily through the pelvic cavity.
3. It's important to urinate after having sex.
FACT. This is the best way to protect against urinary tract infections. Doing so will eliminate bacteria that may have built up in your urethra during intercourse. Dr. Lissa Rankin advises, "In general, it’s a good idea to pee after sex. Sex can introduce bacteria where it shouldn’t be, up inside the normally sterile urethra (the tube from the bladder to the outside world)."
4. Using two condoms ensures double protection against pregnancy and STDs.
FICTION. It would seem that if you use double the condoms, you're double protected, right? So, so wrong. When you use two condoms, especially when they're lubricated, they are far more likely to slip off during intercourse, opening you up to more than double the risk of pregnancy and STD's than if you had only used one condom that had stayed in place. "If you use two condoms, they will rub against each other during penetration, creating friction," writes Anka Radakovich in Redbook. "And they could break or slide off the ol' fireman's pole."
5. You're more likely to catch an STD during bathroom sex.
FACT. As much as you may love riding your significant other in the tub, there is a higher likelihood of transmitting disease when you have sex in the water. Why? Water minimizes your body's natural lubricants, thus causing more friction and increasing the risk of vaginal tears. It is in these vaginal tears that bacteria and viruses are looking to settle down and start a life. In Women's Health, medical sociologist Adina Nack recommends sticking to manual stimulation when you're in the tub.