Is saliva a good lubricant? Myths about sex debunked by science

Pop culture maintains ideas like that married people have less sex than single people, or that spontaneous encounters bring the best orgasms, but studies demonstrate that it may not be true

Mujer abraza a hombre encima de la cama
A couple in bed.LWA/Dann Tardif/Blend Images (Getty Images)

Myths about sex seem endless. We may have overcome the idea that masturbating causes acne, or the taboo against sex while menstruating. But others continue to appear, claiming, for instance, that our sexual desire is linked to our zodiac signs, or that masturbating can lead to better performance at the gym. Such urban legends tend to complement already-held opinions, beliefs and prejudices, and they continue to flourish even when sexologists and studies have debunked them.

Information, curiosity and a critical spirit are the antidotes against these myths. Here we want to counter some common false ideas about sex.

You’ll know if you have an orgasm

This is true for a significant percentage of people, but not for everyone. How can they not know? There are women who don’t know how to identify their organism. In the case of men, orgasm and ejaculation tend to go together, becoming a clear physical sign of the physical sensation of climax —although they can happen separately, as they are different processes. But many women do not experience such a clear signal. And it is a different experience for everyone: some feel it very explosively, others don’t. The latter may not be able to identify the maximum point of pleasure, particularly when they are expecting a burst of colors, screams and spasms. One clue to identify the female organism are the contractions in the vaginal area. How can you know if you’ve had an orgasm? Sexual education and knowing your own body.

Spontaneous sex is the best sex

No objections to the marvels of a passionate encounter, where two (or more) people see each other and sparks fly, leading to sex out of a movie. For many, it’s the ideal. There’s nothing wrong with it, but we have to be conscious of the fictional aspects of it. Spontaneous sex does not always bring the best orgasms, and planning sex isn’t necessarily anti-climactic. The latter often has to be debunked in sex therapy: it is necessary to plan sex to maintain a healthy erotic relationship in couples that have been together for some time. Studies have demonstrated that there is no relationship between sexual satisfaction and whether an encounter is planned or spontaneous.

Wetness doesn’t lie

Vaginal lubrication is not necessarily a sign of sexual excitement or desire. Arousal is one thing, and physiological processes are another. It is easy to understand it in parallel with the penis’s erection, which does not always occur because of arousal. The opposite can also occur: someone can be aroused and experience no lubrication or erection. On the other hand, studies have shown that women can experience a physiological sexual response to stimuli that do not necessarily have to do with their erotic tastes. The hypothesis, according to Pedro Nobre, director of the Sexual at the University of Oporto, is that the response is an adaptation or protection mechanism for possible penetration.

intimate young couple in home bedroom
Studies show that married people, or those who live with their partners, have more sex than single people.NanoStockk (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Married people have less sex

There is some truth to the idea that getting married means no longer having sex. As the years go boy, routine and familiarity do away with the initial passion. If a couple does not cultivate their sex life —planning their sexual encounters, for example— it can get lost. But that isn’t always the case, and studies confirm as much. In a 2017 sociological study that gathered over 1,000 interviews about individuals’ sexual habits, it was found that married people, or those who live with their partners, have more sex than single people: 48.4% of married people did it at least once a week, compared to 33.8% of singles. Another study, from New York University, concluded that, among the sample interviewed, 45.8% of people with stable partners had sex between two and three times a week, while only 8% of singles met that number. But, yes, there may be a trend among married people, or those with stable partners, to have less and less sex, while single people have increasingly active sex lives. So it is possible that things may change. Regardless, this isn’t a competition. As long as we take care of our sexual health, to each their own.

Saliva is a good lubricant

Using saliva as a lubricant is a common trope in film, as in the first night of passion between the two cowboys of Brokeback Mountain, but it isn’t a good option. Saliva is 99% water, and water dries easily. When applied around the vaginal or anal area, it evaporates quickly, and the lubricant effect does not last. Once dry, it does not protect against friction, which can cause small wounds. There are two options: apply saliva constantly, which does not seem practical or comfortable, or use one of the many lubricants on the market. And stay informed to avoid falling for other myths.

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