These 8 Google Autofills Tell Us a Lot About Sex in America, From Breast Health To Erection Questions

Who should we talk to when we have questions about sex? Ask Jeeves is long defunct, and many of us don't have a wise older sister type to coach us through the finer points. Maybe our folks never mustered up the courage to give us The Talk in the first place. Maybe we only learned the basics in the school: "Don't have sex; you'll get pregnant and die." Maybe swimming around in the dating pool has left us with more questions than answers. Either way, sometimes sex has us stumped.

Clearly, we're not talking about sex enough, at the cost of our sexual well-being, pleasure, and health. Psychology Today's Noam Shpancer suggests that an individual's difficulty communicating about sex comes from a fear of her own sexuality: "Perhaps we worry about sexual communication because we intuit the vast range of individual differences that exist with regard to sexuality. We feel strongly about our own tastes, and we sense that others feel similarly about theirs — whatever they may be. We recognize that anything personal we say about sex has the potential to stir, scare, offend, and unsettle those who are closest to us."

Lack of information often moves us to explore our sexuality in the relatively anonymous space of Google, where we hope to get some answers to our deepest, darkest questions — queries about everything from bodily functions to strange rashes to basic anatomy to unplanned pregnancy to how many calories are in semen. Shpancer says we fear judgement from our sexual partners, but Google, on the other hand, will never judge, will never be offended by any sex question, no matter how crass. Google is incapable of laughing at you, even if you don't know where the clitoris is or whether pee and semen come out of the same hole.

Anyone with a computer and vague curiosity can explore America’s collective sexual psyche via Google's autofill function. After typing a few words into Google's search bar, autofill suggests other popular search terms that are "a reflection of the search activity of users and the content of web pages." The function makes it easy to explore what sex-related statements or queries people are too intimidated to discuss with friends, family, or medical professionals, and posit what those things reveal about our sexual culture. Here are 8 searches that have lots to say about our attitudes and ideas about sex.

1. "Sex feels"....

It’s not surprising that people who feel like sexual activity is a chore take to Google for help, rather than bring up the subject with their uninspired sex partners, who they might offend. Men and women can have a difficult time making their desires and fantasies known to a partner, yet communication is the key to fulfilling sexual experiences.

A study combining over 30 years of research by Canadian psychologist Sandra Byers found, predictably, that couples do not communicate nearly enough about what turns them on in bed. As for sex being better during or after pregnancy, some ladies say that giving birth gave them the best sex of their lives, though there are still quite a few myths about the orgasmic potential of popping out a baby. (Vagina tearing is real.)

2. "Can sex"...

These are the type of search terms that most distress me, because they suggest inadequate sex education, which can lead to (and stem from) fear surrounding sex in so many communities. Let me take this moment to set a few things straight. Yes, sex can kill you (if you have a heart attack during the act or contract a fatal STD, for example), but so can walking down the street, texting and driving, or using a vending machine. If you're thinking about having sex during pregnancy, here are 10 things you should know, the first being that it will not kill your unborn child. Yes, sex can cause UTIs, disproportionately in women, and no credible study suggests sex causes constipation, though I'm sorry this is a phenomenon many people feel they're experiencing.

3. "Is sexting"...

As with all matters sexual, we worry about death, illegality, and morality. The act of sexting, sending dirty pics to someone with the aim of turning on yourself or the recipient, is viewed as especially risky, because anyone can do anything with pictures. (For some reason this is still not the first thing they teach you in Politician School.) While expressions of young sexuality will forever make us uncomfortable, studies have shown that sexting is a perfectly healthy element of modern dating. Yet, it's important to remember that sexting to unwanted parties is sexual harassment, and in some cases, minors sending personal nudes is considered to be the distribution of child pornography.

4. "Is an erection"...

I wonder, here, if women or young boys are the main demographic typing in erection-related queries; I'd imagine it's a combination of both. I know I wish I knew more about the science of erections, or what having an erection felt like, but I would never dare ask a man or doctor or health teacher, even in my relatively progressive high school sex ed classes. Once again, autofill illuminates that we take to Google when we're scared of getting laughed at or of someone saying, "I can't believe you didn't know that!! You sick bastard, how could you even ask such a twisted, demented question?!?!?!"

5. "Do orgasms"...

There will always be a cultural mystique surrounding orgasms. Makes sense. Orgasms are strange and beautiful and magical, as science now supports. There is significant evidence that orgasms cure the common cold, decrease risk for certain types of cancer, help us sleep, and just generally make us feel awesome, which I can support with anecdotal evidence, maybe some other time. These orgasm-related searches are on the less-absurd side of the Google autofill spectrum. (Many studies do suggest that orgasms cure headaches, though sex probably doesn't induce labor.)

6. "Are breast"...

Breasts. I could talk about breasts all day, and I usually do. Owning breasts is such a wild experience. Despite considering myself reasonably well-educated, and talking my doctor's ear off about breast issues at any opportunity ("Why is one breast hair thicker than the other??" "How come my left nipple is a different shade of pink??"), I'm certain I'll never be done wondering about boobs. I'm sure this is true for men, too, who likely wonder about boobs even more, however differently. Breast health was the subject of the majority breast-related queries I encountered, which signals to me the massive need for better education of breast health, from basic anatomy to causes for concerns. (The National Breast Cancer Center is a wonderful resource.)

7. "Are my boobs"...

BOOBS GET BIGGER AND SMALLER ALL THE TIME, AND YOU (OR A FRIEND) CAN ANSWER THIS QUESTION FOR YOURSELF BETTER THAN GOOGLE CAN. GOOGLE (HOPEFULLY) CANNOT SEE YOUR BOOBS.

8. "Birth control is..."

Yikes. It's disheartening whenever sin gets mixed up with female sexuality, especially in the instance of birth control. Birth control is so crucial to so many women (99 percent of American women age 15-44) to manage health conditions and prevent unplanned pregnancies, yet it is still stigmatized, considered "bad" and "sinful" by many for religious or moral reasons. All women should feel comfortable, safe, and informed when they're making the choice whether or not to be on birth control, and this begins with open and facts-based communication. A November survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen or Unplanned Pregnancy found that 79 percent more people would use birth control if they knew about the range of options; 78 percent more if they felt more comfortable talking about it. Guys, let's get talking!