Sex, since time immemorial, has been wrought with rumors, misunderstandings, and myths that have been needed to be debunked. From the idea that masturbation causes hairy palms, to all the things that will ruin your sex life, when it comes to sex-related rumors, it can feel like there's no end. Myths are great when it comes to story hour, but can be harmful when it comes to sexual pleasure. That's why we need to nip things in the bud.
One prime example? Herpes. So many people think that a herpes diagnosis is the end of their sex life, but that myth couldn't be further from the truth.
"Genital herpes will not ruin your sex life," Dr. Sheila Loanzon, a board certified OB-GYN and author of Yes, I Have Herpes, tells Bustle. "This diagnosis has the opportunity to cause isolation and destroy the possibility of future relationships if you let it. While the virus may seem catastrophic to some, in terms of disclosure to future partners, outbreak management, and cultural stigmatization of the virus, there are numerous HSV positive men and women (who are publicly sharing their virus status on social media), who are in fulfilling and loving sexual relationships."
As someone who is HSV positive and single, Dr. Loanzon can attest to the fact that, having genital herpes, despite what some might thing, won't ruin your sex life. She is living proof of it. "As a single woman dating, I have actually found that after disclosure it has not made a difference to my partners what my positive status was," Dr. Loanzon says. "They would like to get to know me as a person."
So before you get yourself in a dither over all the other possible things that could squash your sex life, take note. In addition to herpes, here are eight other things that absolutely will not "ruin" your sex life.
First of all, when it comes to HPV, it's very important that we point out the fact that, according to the Center for Disease Control, HPV is the most common STI. In the U.S. alone, 79 million people are infected and it's estimated that 80% of sexually active people will contract HPV at some point in their lifetime. That's how common it is.
"When patients are newly diagnosed in the office with HPV, the immediate thought is regarding what this means sexually... and the risk is if the HPV causes changes to your cervix," Dr. Loanzon says.
Those changes can be the possible growth of precancerous cells. Which, also, don't have to ruin your sex life.
"Precancerous cells of the cervix are slow growing and as long as you follow appropriate follow-up intervals, as discussed with your health care provider, abnormalities can be caught early and treated," Dr. Loanzon says. "To prevent the exposure to HPV, use of condoms can decrease transmission of the virus."
But, because condoms aren't 100% foolproof, it's still important to get checked regularly if you're sexually active.
2. Having Multiple Partners
Considering we're living in an era of sex positivity, the fact that how many sexual partners one has had could even remotely be categorized as a thing that ruins sex lives is mind-boggling. I mean, doesn't practice make perfect?
"The only judgment here would be the one placed on yourself on what others may think of you," Dr. Loanzon says. "Multiple partners may be a high risk behavior, but if a person practices safe sex and contraception, it can be enjoyable."
See? Practice makes perfect after all — as long as everyone is safe about it.
Granted, no one wants an STI, but if you get one, it's absolutely not the end of the world. Nor is the end of your sex life. Especially since antibiotics can get ride of some STIs.
"Luckily modern medicine has assisted with this as well," Dr. Loanzon says. "Bacterial infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are treatable with antibiotics and, if caught early enough, do not cause long-term damage. Lifelong infections such as HIV, and hepatitis B and C are well managed with medication as long as appropriate follow up is completed."
While a contracted STI that has no treatment will involve telling future partners about your diagnosis, as Dr. Loanzon has personally experienced, it does't put the kibosh on your sex life.
4. Birth Control
If you're afraid that your birth control might mess with your sex drive, therefore ruining your sex life, hold up, because the jury is still out on that one.
"There is conflicting data regarding the effect of hormonal contraceptives on female sexuality," Dr. Loanzon says. "The study results are mixed with some studies finding a decreased in sex interest in women using some birth control methods but not others. Other data shows an increase in libido and frequency of sexual encounters on hormonal contraceptives."
According to Dr. Loanzon, there's even suggestion that dosage can affect libido as well, but it's ultimately hard to say for sure.
"Given this variable data, decreased libido or mood changes may be based on the relationship and other factors confounded with the use of contraception," Dr. Loanzon says.
In other words, don't stress yourself about this one.
A fibroid is a noncancerous growth in the body that, due to size, can make sex uncomfortable or even painful.
"Based on the size of the fibroid, deep penetration may be more uncomfortable," Dr. Loanzon says. "Abnormal, heavy bleeding can occur with fibroids which can cause fatigue from anemia. It is important to speak to your health care provider about what medical or surgical treatments may be beneficial to prevent complications from the fibroid."
Once you talk to your doctor and have a plan of attack for treatment and/or managing the fibroids, you can continue to have an enjoyable sex life.
From hot flashes, to vaginal dryness, to moods that are off the charts, menopause tends to get a bad rap. And it really shouldn't. It's just another stage in your life — a life that will continue to be sexually active, if that's what you want.
"Average age of menopause is 51 years old with some women experiencing the change in hormones sooner or later than this age," Dr. Loanzon says. "Menopause is associated with vaginal dryness, decreased libido, pain with intercourse, night sweats, hot flashes, and mood changes. It is important to recognize these symptoms and discuss with your health care provider how to mitigate the symptoms and keep [them] at a steady baseline."
To avoid painful sex once menopause hits, using personal lubricant is the easiest way to manage things, as well as estrogen-based vaginal creams that replenish the lack of estrogen in the vaginal tissue that comes with menopause.
"It may take extra effort as arousal and orgasms may seem illusive," Dr. Loanzon says. "However, communication with your partner during this time can be effective and increase intimacy."
7. Urinary Incontinence
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 3% to 17% of women experience urinary incontinence. Although it mostly affects people with vaginas 70 and older, it can still affect people who are much younger, and it can be awkward during sex.
"Sexual dysfunction is reported by up to 47% of women with urinary incontinence and 45% of these women may experience loss or leaking of urine during penetration or orgasm," Dr. Loanzon says. "This distressing situation significantly correlates to interest in intercourse, [but] surgical repair or treatment management may improve these symptoms."
And, should you not opt for treatment, it's important to keep in mind that it's just a little urine, and everyone pees.
8. Having A Baby
There's enough that comes with being a new mom, so we really don't need to add ruined sex life to the list, too, yet rumor has it that this is the case.
"Sexual function can decrease during pregnancy and may be impacted in the postpartum period," Dr. Loanzon. "With a new infant, the strain on couples of an enlarging family, decreased libido and pain with intercourse, anatomic and hormonal changes that have occurred, decreased sex is multifactorial. Generally, within three months postpartum, 80-90% of women have resumed sex."
Myth officially debunked.
While there are things that can possibly ruin one's sex life, trauma for example, these things do not. It's important to get your facts straight before you assume the worst; in many cases there's a remedy and your sex life will keep on truckin'.