There are so many stories around sex, it’s hard to know what to believe. Find out about the facts – it’s the best way to make sure that you have safer sex.

8: No, a boy’s testicles (balls) will not explode if he doesn’t have sex.

You may have heard the myth that if a boy doesn’t have sex his balls will explode. The truth is, not having sex doesn’t harm boys or girls, and a boy’s balls will not explode.

Boys and men produce sperm all the time. If they don’t ejaculate the sperm is absorbed into their body. Ejaculation can happen if they masturbate or have a wet dream. They don’t have to have sex. Find out about boys’ bodies.

9: No, condoms can’t be washed out and used again.

Don’t believe anyone who says that you can wash condoms and use them again. The truth is, you can’t use a condom more than once, even if you wash it out. If you’ve used a condom, throw it away and use a new one if you have sex again.

This is true for male condoms and female condoms. Condoms need to be changed after 30 minutes of sex because friction can weaken the condom, making it more likely to break or fail. Get tips on using condoms.

10: Yes, you can get pregnant if you have sex only once.

You may have heard the myth that you have to have sex lots of times to get pregnant. The truth is, you can get pregnant if you have sex once. All it takes is for one sperm to meet an egg. To avoid pregnancy, always use contraception, and use a condom to protect against STIs.

11: You don’t always get symptoms if you have an STI.

You may have heard the myth that you’d always know if you had an STI because it would hurt when you pee, or you’d notice a discharge, unusual smell or soreness. This isn’t true.

Many people don’t notice signs of infection, so you won’t always know if you’re infected. You can’t tell by looking at someone whether they’ve got an STI. If you’re worried that you’ve caught an STI, visit your GP or local sexual health clinic. Check-ups and tests for STIs are free and confidential, including for under-16s. Find out about sexual health services near you.

12: Yes, women who have sex with women can get STIs.

You may have heard that women who sleep with women can’t get or pass on STIs. This isn’t true. If a woman has an STI and has sex with another woman, the infection can be passed on through vaginal fluid (including fluid on shared sex toys), blood or close body contact. 

Always use condoms on shared sex toys, and use dams to cover the genitals during oral sex. A dam is a very thin, soft plastic square that acts as a barrier to prevent infection (ask about dams at a pharmacist or sexual health clinic). If a woman is also having sex with a man, using contraception and condoms will help to prevent STIs and unintended pregnancy.

13: Not all gay men have anal sex. 

You may have heard that all gay men have anal sex. This isn’t true. Anal sex, like any sexual activity, is a matter of preference. Some people choose to do it as part of their sex life and some don’t, whether they’re gay, straight, lesbian or bisexual.

14: A girl is not ready to have sex just because she’s started her periods.

You may have heard that a girl should be having sex once she starts having periods. This isn’t true.

Starting your periods means that you’re growing up, and that you could get pregnant if you were to have sex. It doesn’t mean that you’re ready to have sex, or that you should be sexually active.

People feel ready to have sex at different times. It’s a personal decision. Most young people in England wait until they’re 16 or older before they start having sex. Find out more about periods and the menstrual cycle.

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