Come as you are

You're wrong about sex

Editorial note: The author’s name has been changed to maintain her anonymity.

In a country where only 24 states mandate sex education in public schools, it's no wonder so many kids get their info from their friends.

There are more than a few myths many of us learned in our formative years and carried into adulthood, and they're ruining our sex lives.

From pineapple semen to popped cherries to condom ignorance, here are three misconceptions and the truth behind them.

Pineapple juice makes your fluids taste good

This is a popular tidbit of misinformation. When I eat pineapple, I secretly tell myself my boyfriend is going to have an extra fun time going down on me later.

It's pretty easy to debunk, but the pineapple juice myth does hold a sliver of truth.

What you eat does impact how you taste and smell. A healthy diet, staying hydrated and eating enough fiber help keep the good bacteria in your gut nice and happy, OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Gunter told BuzzFeed Health. This helps you stay healthy in your lower half, keeping your smells relatively pleasant.

On the same note, eating smelly foods, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can make you smell and taste stronger.

However, chugging pineapple juice now isn't going to make your semen taste like fruit tonight.

A consistently healthy lifestyle and regular hygiene routine are necessary to keep funky smells at bay.

It's also important to remember everyone's genitals have a mild odor and taste; balls smell and taste like balls, vaginas smell and taste like vaginas.

Strong, foul odors are what you should watch out for, as they can be a sign of infection. When things get abnormally pungent, it's time to see a doctor.

Protection is only necessary for penetrative sex

Too many people forget condoms protect against more than just pregnancy. According to the Center for Disease Control, performing oral sex on a penis, vulva or anus puts you at risk for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HPV, HIV and trichomoniasis. That’s a long list.

Getting tested regularly and discussing sexually transmitted infections with your partner can help you avoid getting one of these bugs, but it’s also a good idea to use a barrier when venturing into unfamiliar territory.

Condoms and dental dams are the two most useful forms of protection against STIs during oral sex. You’re probably familiar with condoms, but dental dam may be new vocabulary. A dental dam is a thin sheet of latex that can be placed over the vulva or anus for protection during oral sex.

Keep a stash of unlubricated –– maybe flavored –– condoms, just in case. You can even use them to make dental dams if you’re out or can’t find any. Unroll the condom just enough to have access to the tip, cut the tip off with a pair of scissors and snip the rolled-up condom ring. Unroll it, and you have your very own DIY dental dam.

Popping the cherry

Thanks to years of sexual shaming and glamorized virginity, many believe people with vaginas are supposed to go through some kind of bloodbath the first time they have penetrative sex. While the concept of virginity is antiquated, misogynist and heteronormative, societies around the world still attribute female virginity to an intact hymen. I’m shaking my head as I write this.

The hymen is a thin layer of tissue that surrounds the vaginal opening. Like most other body parts, hymens come in all shapes and sizes. Some look like a ring. Some have two holes. Some cover the entire vaginal opening. And some people don’t have one at all.

Virginity tests –– inserting a finger or two to check for an intact hymen –– have been practiced for centuries and still happen all over the world today. Some healthcare practitioners use them during physical examinations following sexual assault. All of them are misguided.

Because the hymen comes in so many forms, it’s impossible to use one test to determine whether someone has had sex. On top of that, the hymen doesn’t even have to break the first time –– or any time –– someone has penetrative sex. With slow and careful work and gentle pressure with fingers, toys and lots of lube, the hymen stretches.

While hymens can and do tear, people break their own hymens doing activities completely unrelated to sex including inserting a tampon or riding a bike.