If you went to high school in the U.S., then you'll probably agree that the list of
things they don't teach you in sex ed — but totally should — is unfortunately long. There are more than a few problems with the state of American sexual education, but the biggest by far is the fact that many states still rely on an abstinence-only model, which lacks crucial information about how to have safe, healthy, satisfying, consensual sex. Sadly, there are so many important topics that still go unexplored in many sex ed classrooms: conversations about female pleasure, consent, the bevy of birth control options out there, what sex looks like for LGBTQ folks, and so much more.
The good news? There are awesome people out there who are working tirelessly to
revolutionize the way we teach sex ed here in the U.S.. But until every young person has access to accurate, comprehensive information about sex and sexual health, it's imperative that we, as adults, acknowledge areas where we might be un- or misinformed, and work to fill in those education gaps on our own (even if it's years later).
In a recent AskReddit thread, one user asked people to share some examples of
things we aren't taught in sex ed that all sexually active adults need to know, and the responses are proof that even if you *think* you learned it all in school, there's probably plenty of stuff you don't know about sex. Here are 11 crucial tidbits of information related to sex and sexual health that you may not have learned in sex ed — but when it comes to being informed, better late than never, right?
Most Women Don't Orgasm From Penetration Alone
Although some of the more unrealistic porn out there might have led you to believe that all women can reach orgasm after just a couple minutes of jackhammer-like penetration, the truth is that in order for most women to get off, they need clitoral stimulation, too.
In fact, a 2017 study by Debby Herbenick at Indiana University found that only 18.6 percent of women said
penetration was enough to reach orgasm — so don't forget the clit.
Peeing After Sex Can Help Prevent UTIs
One pro tip they should absolutely teach in sex ed? The importance of
peeing after sex to prevent UTIs or other infections. Urination is a way for your body to fight back against any potential bacteria and flush them out of your system — and even though women are more prone to UTIs than men, everyone should pee after sex, just to be safe.
It's OK If You Need To Use Lube
Honestly, I'm not sure I
ever heard the word "lube" used during my sex ed classes... and that's a serious problem. Although vaginas are self-lubricating, it's normal (and not at all anything to be ashamed of) to need a little extra help in the lubrication department.
There's More Than One Kind Of Birth Control
In order for young women to be able to choose the
best birth control method for their bodies, they first have to be aware of all the different options that exist, from IUDs to oral contraceptives to arm implants.
Foreplay Is A Very Important Part Of Good Sex
One thing that isn't touched on nearly enough in sex ed (and especially in abstinence-only environments), is the fact that the act of sex isn't comprised solely of penetrative sex:
foreplay is an extremely important part of sex that shouldn't be overlooked or rushed through, because it helps both partners get primed for what's next.
The Basics Of Safe Anal Toy Play
Honestly, I can't recall ever discussing
how to have anal sex in my high school sex ed classes — let alone talking about how to safely use sex toys for anal pleasure. The number one rule? No double dipping! If a toy has been in a butt, it shouldn't go into a vagina (or any orifice) afterwards, even if it's been cleaned.
Sex Should Be About Mutual Pleasure
Something that all young adults could stand to learn as they begin to explore their sexuality? Sex should
always be about mutual pleasure, not just one person's, and you shouldn't be afraid to speak up if something is not working for you in bed.
Vaginas Don't Change Size/Shape Depending On How Many Partners You've Had
I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone joke about a woman's vagina being "loose" because of how many partners she's had — and that's one harmful sexual myth that
needs to go. In reality, the vagina is a muscle, and only vaginal trauma (most commonly, childbirth) can actually "stretch" the vagina; it doesn't happen simply because someone has lots of sex.
What Safe Sex Looks Like For LGBTQ Individuals
In a lot of sex ed classrooms, the word "sex" is used primarily as a way to describe penis-in-vagina sex between a heterosexual man and woman — and as a result, there's not nearly enough focus on
what "sex" means for LBGTQ youth, let alone how to do it safely. Sex ed classes would do better to cover safe sex in a way that pertains to all gender identities and sexual orientations, instead of being heteronormative only.
Consent Can Be Given Or Withdrawn At Any Time
In recent years, the conversation surrounding consent has been growing louder and louder, and more people than ever are aware of the
importance of enthusiastic, verbal consent. Even still, there's one aspect of consent that needs even more exposure: the idea that consent can be given or withdrawn at any time. If someone says "yes" to one thing, that doesn't automatically carry over to anything else — so it's important to ask for consent every step of the way.
Mainstream Porn Sex Isn't An Accurate Representation Of Real Sex
While there's plenty of feminist porn out there that does a better job of
realistically portraying female pleasure, that doesn't mean that both women's and men's perceptions of sex aren't still influenced in part by what they've see in mainstream porn. It's important to teach young folks that porn is not necessarily an accurate portrayal of real sex (and that it's OK to speak up in bed if something isn't bringing you sexual pleasure).
The good news? Becoming informed about any given sexual topic is as easy as doing a little research and if we all take the time to educate ourselves — and then share that information with
the young people in our lives — we're one step closer to a world where everyone can have a safe, happy, healthy sex life, regardless of the quality of their formal sex education.