Q: I've seen links throughout the internet saying that masturbation can lead to penis shrinkage. Is that true?
A: This is definitely not true. There’s nothing that leads to penis shrinkage other than removing part of the penis surgically. I googled, “masturbation makes penis shrink” and the only sources I could find were websites that were trying to sell penis enhancing pills (which don’t work, by the way). So, I think this myth was probably manufactured by these types of companies.
Can two people without STDs get them by being exposed to body fluids, like blood or feces, during sex?
Q: Can two sexually engaged partners who doesn't have AIDS or STDs get it by having unprotected sex where blood or fluids have mixed? For example, a male and a female having unprotected sex during her menstrual period.
A: If two people don’t have any STDs, then they cannot infect each other. STDs or STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are viruses or bacteria, so if neither person is infected with these, they cannot pass them along to anyone else. Also, having sex while a woman is on her period is perfectly safe and healthy.
However, many people with STIs are unaware that they’re carrying them. For example, scientists estimate that 70 – 80% of people carry Herpes Simplex-I (oral herpes or herpes of the mouth) by the time they are in their mid-20s. This is an extremely common virus that tends to get passed on by kissing, sharing food, or simply having hand-to-mouth contact with the virus. For most people, this never causes any symptoms, so they don’t realize they have it. For others, they may get cold-sores or rashes around their mouth, but only once in a while (often when they’re sick with something else). And yet, for others, they can have persistent sores on their mouth. Since STIs affect everyone differently, it’s impossible to absolutely know if someone has an STI without getting checked out by a doctor.
One of the most common STIs that often goes unnoticed is HPV (human papillomavirus). This virus usually has no impact on men who carry it, but can cause cervical cancer in women who contract it. So, it’s best to always use a condom when having sex if there’s any uncertainty in what STIs your partner (or you) have. It’s always a good idea to get a virus screening (which you can get for free at Planned Parenthood in Merced (209-723-7751), especially when you get a new sex partner. It would be great if you could have your partner do the same.
Q: How do people die from masturbating?
A: There is a widespread myth that masturbating is unhealthy and that masturbating too much can make a person sick. However, there is no scientific evidence to back this up. In fact, studies show that regular masturbation is a very healthy thing to do. It can lower stress, regulate blood pressure, and decrease one’s likelihood of getting certain types of cancer (e.g., prostate, cervical). It can also greatly alleviate menstrual cramping in women.
Check out this video on the health advantages of masturbation: https://youtu.be/GU3JqoUDkjA
Once in a while you’ll hear about someone who “died of masturbation.” There was one such story in 2012 that made its way across the internet about a 23-year-old medical student who supposedly died from donating to a sperm bank too many times. This story ended up being a hoax created by the family so that they could sue a sperm bank (they lost the lawsuit, by the way). These stories most often turn out to be a hoax or simply a misunderstanding of how someone actually died. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been one credible case of anyone ever dying from masturbating.
Q: After having sex for first time, why does one's body change so significantly? (example like smell, period length, etc)
A: While sex can create temporary changes in one’s body, such as increased blood flow and estrogen levels (for women) or testosterone levels (for men), there are no long-term changes that the body goes through after having sex for the first time. There is actually no observable way to tell if someone is a virgin or not. It used to be thought that a woman’s hymen would tear when she had sex for the first time, but we now know that many women lose their hymen well before they ever have sex (it begins to naturally deteriorate when beginning puberty) and that some women’s hymen doesn’t tear at all from having sex. In other words, having sex for the first time or any time doesn’t produce any lasting or noticeable changes in the body.
It’s likely that if you noticed any changes in yourself, this is probably due to “illusory correlation,” which is when people expect a relationship between two events (such as having sex and seeing resulting changes in their body) and so become hyper-focused on finding any evidence for this relationship. This is similar to a placebo effect. For example, if you took a pill that you thought would make you drowsy, it’s like you would start to notice yourself becoming drowsy, even if the pill didn’t actually contain any medication at all. If you took the same pill, but expected it to make you anxious, you would probably find yourself suddenly becoming more anxious. We often see or experience things simply because we expect to.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.