| The truth behind 12 sex myths

1. Men reach their sexual peak at 18, and women reach theirs at 28

True: With regard to their supply of sexual hormones, at least. Testosterone peaks at age 18 in men; women’s oestrogen hits its high point in their mid-20s. “But peak hormones don’t mean peak sexual performance,” says Marc Goldstein, MD, a professor of reproductive medicine and urology at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College. So feel free to try for a personal best – at any age.

Read more: 12 weird sex facts you won’t believe are true

2. Semen is low-carb

False: “Semen is mostly fruit sugar [fructose] and enzymes – not low-carb,” says Dr Goldstein. Which finally explains why there’s no oral sex diet.

3. Masturbation yields the strongest orgasm

True: But it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, as it were. “It depends on the individual,” says Jon l Pryor, MD, a professor of urologic surgery at the University of Minnesota. “For some it does, but for others, there’s nothing that beats good ol’ intercourse.”

Read more: 5 masturbation secrets you don’t know about

4. The average erection is 20cm

False: Relax, shorty. It’s closer to 15.

5. No penis is too large or too small for any vagina

True: But perception still wins the game in the end. “I was once at a dinner meeting with seven other sex doctors – six men and one woman,” says Dr Pryor. “The men all agreed that size doesn’t matter. The woman looked at us and said, ‘Think what you want. Size matters.’ We all left dejected.”

6. Oysters make you horny

False: You make you horny. “There is no scientific evidence that oysters increase libido,” says Dr  Pryor. “But there may be a placebo effect, so if it works, great!”

oysters, food, sex

Read more: 8 signs you have low testosterone levels

7. Green M&Ms make you horny

False: Unless they do. Then it’s true. Isn’t the mind wonderful?

8. Men think about sex every 7 seconds

False: That number is tossed around a lot, but the truth is that only 23% of men claim to fantasise frequently. But maybe the rest are just too distracted to check the clock.

9. Cutting out broccoli will make your semen taste better

True: Semen is naturally bitter, and eating broccoli and drinking coffee can make it worse. A ray of hope for the oral sex diet!

brocolli, vegetable, food

Read more: 7 signs your semen is healthy and strong

10. Having sex before an important event – the big game, the critical presentation – can ruin your performance in the event

False: Swiss researchers performed stress tests on people two and 10 hours after the subjects had had sex, and found that by 10 hours, the participants were fully recovered. There was only a small dip in performance two hours after sex.

11. Having sex in water (swimming pool, hot tub, shower) will kill sperm

True: Some of your swimmers may die, but it isn’t an effective method of birth control, according to Dr Pryor. Though a hot tub can overheat your testicles and kill sperm, there should be plenty left for the egg hunt.

Read more: Are you ‘pulling out’ as a form of contraception? Here’s why that might be a problem

12. You can be addicted to web porn

True: But the risk is low. Only 1% of all people who check out internet porn will become addicted. If you’re sporting a ring, be careful: 38% of addicts are married.


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Image credits: iStock

NEXT ON HEALTH24X | How to treat a yeast infection on your period

Few things feel worse than having a yeast infection (a cursed health issue) when you’re on your period – that deep, invasive itch you can’t scratch is extra uncomfortable when it’s coupled with achey cramps and a whole lot of blood.

Even more annoying, the ways a person might typically manage menstruation – tampons, menstrual cups – might become untenably messy when you’re dealing with a yeast infection, too.

So what’s a person to do when a yeast infection strikes at exactly the same moment their period arrives?

Read more: Here’s exactly how to skip your period every month

“There are tons of options for treating yeast infections, regardless of where you are in your cycle,” says Dr Jennifer Conti, a clinical assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology.

That’s good news, as infections are exceedingly common. Typically characterised by intense itching, soreness and/or clumpy white discharge resembling cottage cheese, yeast infections result when the vagina’s good bacteria – specifically, Lactobacillus acidophilus – are thrown out of whack, allowing the vagina’s natural yeast to flourish.

Factors that can tip that delicate flora balance in yeast’s favour include, according to the US Mayo Clinic, a compromised immune system; antibiotic use; uncontrolled diabetes; hormone therapy; and pregnancy, thanks to peaking oestrogen levels that can predispose people to yeast infections.

And while yeast infections are often attributed to menstruation shifting the vagina’s pH, according to Dr Conti, that’s a misconception.

In a healthy vagina, pH hovers between 3.5 and 4.5, fostering the growth of good bacteria and suppressing the overgrowth of infection-causing bad bacteria and yeast.

Blood, meanwhile, has a pH of around 7.3. While pH imbalance does contribute to bacterial vaginosis, which sometimes presents with a similar itch, Dr Conti explains that blood passing through the vagina once a month shouldn’t throw off vaginal pH enough to trigger an infection.

Indeed, she adds, oestrogen levels are low during menstruation and blood might actually help flush out some of that yeast, providing relief.

Read more: 5 period symptoms that might signal a serious health problem

What might also make an insufferably itchy vagina feel better? Diflucan (fluconazole), an oral medication that often treats a yeast infection in one dose. Because it’s a pill rather than a vaginal insert, Diflucan is likely the least messy and most convenient option for menstruating yeast infection sufferers, although it does require a doctor’s prescription.

Unfortunately, the remedies that are widely available at pharmacies – like anti-fungal creams – might be less effective during a period, Dr Conti explained, “because it’s hard to keep one fluid up there while another fluid’s trying to come out.”

And when it comes to containing menstrual blood, yeast infection sufferers can proceed as they normally would.

“It’s totally fine to use tampons or pads if you’re bleeding and also have a yeast infection,” Dr Conti said.

The one thing you absolutely shouldn’t do? Douche. Attempting to clean out the vagina with an over-the-counter hygienic product can imbalance pH such that an infection does develop. Plus, they’re a waste of money: As Dr Conti put it, “The vagina can clean itself, thank you.”

The bottom line: Yeast infections are super common and announce themselves with a few distinctive signs. But bacterial vaginosis could easily be mistaken for a yeast infection, as could trichomoniasis, symptoms of which include itching, irritation and white discharge.

If you have a vaginal complaint, it’s always better to check in with a doctor if you can, rather than seek an internet diagnosis. That’s true whether you’re menstruating or not.

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Image credit: iStock | Two Oceans 2018: Your training starts here!

Tackling the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in 2018?

Arrive at the start line on Saturday, 31 March ready to conquer the race.

Following a structured training programme will allow you the best chance at achieving your goals.

Pick the programme best suited for you and click on the relevant link.

Happy training!


SUB-4 (SILVER): Download

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Sign up to the FREE Two Oceans training newsletter, here.

For Half Marathon training programmes, click here.

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Answer every weird cycling question at the lunch table this Christmas

You brought your bike for Christmas lunch? My grandma asked, baffled as to why my plus-one had two wheels and a carbon seat post, not the strong jawline and rugged good looks she’d hoped for.

Don’t worry, we’ll sleep in separate beds while we’re here, I assured her.

While it’s dangerous to ask your aunt about her new, multi-level marketing scheme and downright scary to ask your cousin if his Richard Spencer-style haircut was an accident, lobbing so what’s with all that spandex anyway? at the cyclist in the room is pretty innocuous.

Which means that this Christmas you’ll probably be pinged with more than your fair share of probing about your beloved hobby.

In the interest of keeping family peace, diverting the “so, have you met any nice men?” questions away from your perpetually single aunt, and possibly even converting some of your loved ones to Team Bike – we urge you to happily answer all your family’s cycling-related queries.

Here’s how to do it both with grace and without. Choose your own adventure.

1. ‘Aren’t you scared of getting hit by a car?’

Answer: Absolutely. But cycling can lower my overall risk of dying from any number of health-related issues, like heart disease. And honestly, I’m sometimes afraid that I’ll go to sleep and never wake up the next morning, but that doesn’t keep me from tucking into bed each night.

If they still won’t drop it: Quote Plato: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” It won’t really answer their question but everyone will leave the pretentious guy (that’s you) alone for the rest of the night.

2. ‘But what about all that spandex? Are you all just really vain?’

Answer: We are vain. But skin-tight clothing also has a function. On a bike you travel faster than you can on foot, so drag from the wind becomes a real, er, drag. A streamlined profile (even if our midsections aren’t all that aero) makes a difference. Plus, stretchy clothes don’t bunch, chafe or get caught on your chainring. Finally, cycling has a way of making you feel pretty damn awesome about your body and its capabilities. You stop caring what you look like and start embracing the fact that on two wheels you are unstoppable.

If they still won’t drop it: Sing “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly” while shaking your spandex-clad rear end. It won’t answer the question, but it will make everyone in the room feel awkward.

3. ‘So how do you feel about Lance?’

Answer: This question has evolved over the years, and honestly, it’s kind of nice to no longer have to answer, “So basically you want to be just like Lance, right?” The safest answer is to probably say “I’ve heard nice things about his bike shop.”

If they still won’t drop it: Embark on a 30-minute rant about how a patriarchal, capitalist system rewards win-at-all-cost behaviour, especially among successful white males. We promise, no one will ever ask you about Lance again.

4. ‘Doesn’t that seat make your butt hurt?’

Answer: Because many non-cyclists don’t realise you can change the seat on your bike, explaining the process of finding a seat that works for you can be illuminating. Explain that yes, to some degree you do have to accustom your backside to spending hours in one position, but that pain isn’t something cyclists must silently endure. Bonus points if you can convince someone to give their bike another try now that they know that saddle woes don’t have to be part of riding.

If they still won’t drop it: Introduce the words penile blood flow or “labial pressure”. Count the seconds until someone changes the subject.

5. ‘Why do your shoes lock to your bike?’

Answer: Mostly we just like attracting a ton of attention as we click and clack through the local coffee shop. While many cyclists say that clipless pedals increase efficiency, research is somewhat limited, though this paper seems to suggest that the claim might be true. When mountain biking, clip-in pedals do work to keep your feet from bouncing off the pedal on rough terrain, too.

If they still won’t drop it: Tell them that this is the first step to becoming one with your bike. Surgery to have your handlebars permanently implanted in your palms is set for next week.

6. ‘What is chamois cream?’

Answer: When a person and a bike love each other very much, sometimes that special relationship just needs a little lube to keep things running smoothly. Chamois cream relieves chafing and hot spots, especially on really long rides. You probably could use diaper rash cream, but cyclists would rather pay a small fortune for fancy butt salve than have their buddies catch them slathering on diaper rash cream.

If they still won’t drop it: It’s basically butt butter. I put some in the mashed potatoes, actually.

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Image credit: iStock