Adults may feel embarrassed when they have questions about sex, or when they find out that they have been operating all this time with misconceptions. It’s crucial that such embarrassment doesn’t get in men’s way of pursuing sex education; a lack of knowledge in this area can not only lead to significant penile health problems, but unplanned parenthood as well. Consider the following to better protect oneself and one’s partner.

Nobody Knows Everything

Whether through arrogance or embarrassment, a man may wish to assume that he knows all there is to know about his penis and about sex. This may be the biggest barrier between him and actual knowledge.

The state of sex education in the U.S. is not stellar. Most states don’t even mandate that sex education be part of the curriculum; those that do allow programs to skip discussions of contraception and sex before marriage. If a guy is lucky, he may vaguely recall learning about a bunch of weird-sounding infections and watching his health teacher roll a condom over a banana. Either way, there are likely things a guy never learned or has since forgotten. It’s never too late to get educated.

Common Misconceptions

1) Pulling out will prevent pregnancy. This may or may not be true. Semen released during orgasm contains the most sperm, for sure, but pre-seminal fluid may contain some as well. Plus, relying on the pull-out method is risky simply because a guy might start to leak before he’s fully exited his partner, as ejaculation can happen rather quickly sometimes. Barrier protection is the best way to prevent pregnancy - preferably in conjunction with a second form of birth control.

2) All condoms protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Most do, but lambskin condoms do not. This type is effective in preventing pregnancy, but the material contains pores large enough for certain infections to pass through.

3) There’s always a symptom when an STI is present. It would be very nice if this were true, but it’s simply not. There are several STIs with no noticeable symptoms. Luckily, some are harmless. But even chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis can be present without noticeable, or with barely noticeable, symptoms. And they can be passed on, too. Also consider the fact that most STIs have a period between infection and symptom presentation (when the latter does occur), and that they could be passed along during this period.

4) If tests came back negative, the person is clean. Even more unsettling, perhaps, than the above is the fact that, when one goes in for STI testing, not everything can be tested for! Ask one’s health professional what exactly is being tested for and what is not; ask the same of one’s partner. Understand that there is always a risk when having sex.

5) Lubricant is optional. While it’s true that some partners produce enough lubrication to keep sex comfortable, enjoyable and safe for the most part, even the wettest women out there are bound to run a bit dry now and then, particularly during rough or prolonged sessions. Lube isn’t just about personal preference; it protects delicate penile and vaginal skin from tears that not only hurt but provide harboring grounds for bacteria, viruses and fungi. Ample lubrication is also crucial for preventing condom breakage.

6) Washing and wearing protection are all a man can do for his penis. Actually, there are skin care products for men designed with the manhood in mind. Maintaining healthy skin condition is necessary in order to preserve sensitivity and keep the member attractive over time. Men should seek out a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) with the skin-friendly ingredients Shea butter, vitamin E and vitamin C for rejuvenating the penis. Using a moisturizer like this daily will protect against the ravages of friction from hands, bodies and clothing, keeping the penis radiant and ready to go.