Prakash Nanalal Kothari is an Indian medical doctor and the Head of the Department of Sexual Medicine at the King Edward Memorial Hospital and Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College, Mumbai. A graduate of the Mumbai University, Kothari is credited with several books and articles on sexology. The World Association of Sexology (WAS) selected him as the Man of the Year in 1989. He was honored by the Government of India in 2002, with the fourth highest Indian Civilian award of Padma Shri.
We had a long insightful conversation with renowned sexologist Dr Prakash Kothari, in which he revealed some popular sex-related myths and debunked them for us.
Q: Your favourite myth that you like to deconstruct?
Prakash Kothari: Once I was discussing orgasm with Osho (and Kalyanji, the music director) and he said that we don’t have a good word for orgasm in India. I argued that is wrong. I started analysing the women who came to me – to know how they termed or defined orgasm. In Gujarati, they said, “Tamne santosh malyo?” They use the word ‘santosh’. Or ‘sukh’ – happiness. Bohris use the word ‘param sukh’. Maharashtrians ask, “Tumhala samadhan hotey ka nai?” – “Have you ‘settled’?” Sindhis use the word ‘shanti’ – peace. Tamilians use the word ‘trupti’. In Telugu they use the word ‘samtrupti’. Kashmiris say ‘khushi’. A woman from a slum came to me and said, “Doctor sahib, hamare shauhar jaldi khatam ho jate hain, aur ham nashe mein nahi aate.” She was comparing orgasm with intoxication.
In Malayalam they have a beautiful word – ‘rati murchha’ – rati means intercourse, murchha means trance.
In Latin the word means ‘to swell with lust’.
Q: Isn’t sex a skill that you need to learn? It is passion – of course.
PK: It surely is. You need to satisfy your partner in one way or the other. Vatsyayana, who hailed from Gujarat, a city called Nagarakh, 3 km away from Khambhat, was a bachelor and compiled all the previous knowledge and came out with his own compilation, which was known as the Kamasutra. He wrote it between 351 and 375 AD and though Kamasutra is ancient, it is yet modern. At that time he mentioned that if a man is unable to satisfy his partner, then he must satisfy her by oral sex or masturbation or artificial penis.
Vatsyayana stressed that the important thing is satisfaction – and not sexual intercourse.
He also said that oral sex is normal and hygienic. That not only should the woman do it, she should do it simultaneously. He said that after an orgasm, the man’s arousal ceases, the woman’s does not.
Related reading: 5 tips to keep the erotic spark alive
Q: What about other common myths in India?
PK: The most common myth in our country is about masturbation. And about the size of the penis; the myth is prevalent all over the world and not only in India. I’ve given lectures all over the globe and I asked, what is the size of the penis and people’s answers have ranged from 2 inches to 13 inches. Then I have to tell them I am asking about humans and not elephants.
Very simply, my argument is that the anatomical length of a vagina is 4 inches, and you have 2 inches of compressible tissue till the front face of sacrum, so it becomes 6 inches. Only the outer one third has sensation, and the inner two thirds is virtually insensitive, leading us to conclude that to arouse your female partner, you must concentrate on the outer one-third of the vagina, which is 2 inches. And second, the size of the penis could be anything, 2 inches or more for adequate sexual gratification.
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I was the first person to write this down, globally too. And this misconception you will find among the therapists also. I write columns in several magazines and people want to know the surest way to increase the size of a penis. And there is one. Do you know what? Use a magnifying glass: don’t use it in bed, use in direct sunlight!
Q: What about the frequency of sex between couples who have been married for ten years or more?
PK: Frequency doesn’t give any clue about vigour or vitality, what is important is the quality of the sex. Sexual pleasure is not a performance to be gauged. It is a pleasure, or more importantly, happiness. Instead of the word intercourse, I prefer ‘sambhog’. Sambhog is a concept of equality and mutuality. So ideally, it should be a sambhog, both the partners should be satisfied. Vatsyayana also mentioned about this 1600 years ago. In those days he also wrote that if you’re unable to satisfy your partner with peno-vaginal intercourse, then you may use paanimantan (masturbation), auparishtaka (oral sex) or abharadhravya, meaning artificial penis, what we call a dildo. So these are the concepts of 1600 years ago. And they’re still as valid today.