Health

The Crucial (Biological) Things Bridgerton's Characters Get Wrong About Sex

The show's sex scenes were steamy AF, but also kind of misleading...

The Duke in 'Bridgerton' caused a huge stir with *that* spoon scene.
Netflix

Bridgerton has been one of Netflix’s biggest hits of the past few years. And while Shonda Rhimes’s scandalous series set in Regency-era London is all about whimsical dresses and fancy balls, the one thing that's got viewers talking it the seriously hot sex scenes. Who knew the thing you’d be wishing for in 2021 is a Duke? While these storylines may have given fans a lot to think about, there are also a few things we need to get straight about Bridgerton's sex scenes.

Since it first aired on December 25, Bridgerton has dominated group chats and Zoom calls everywhere. It was the Christmas gift we didn't know we needed, with 63 million households tuning in within less than a month of the series premiere. It’s hard not to get hot under the collar watching Daphne and the Duke’s will-they-won’t-they relationship, but some have pointed out issues within the show, especially when it comes to the intimate scenes.

For starters, there's been a fair bit of criticism surrounding the way that the series presents and discusses consent, with some viewers asking why the rape scene written into Julia Quinn's original novel was left out of the series.

As well as this glaring omission, there are also a great number of misinformed moments when it comes to the Bridgerton bedroom scenes. Of course we're all aware that this is a fictional series set in a time when doctors and medical professionals were yet to figure out how sex, pregnancy, periods, and pleasure really worked. Plus there's the whole issue of women purposefully being kept in the dark to maintain their "innocence." Nonetheless, it's still worth looking at these scenes through a 21st-century lens to make sure viewers know what's what.

Below, Dr. Jack Pearson, an in-house medical expert at Natural Cycles, highlights three key things Bridgerton gets wrong about sex.

Contraception

Netflix

The build up to when Simon and Daphne consummate their marriage in episode five was intense. I know I’m not the only one who was dying for them to put their love/hate relationship to one side and make out already.

Sadly, at this moment in history, the pill was still decades away from being developed. So, in a bid to avoid pregnancy, the Duke pulled out before he climaxed.

As we now now, the pull-out method is far from perfect. Dr. Pearson suggests it's "only 80% effective" in most circumstances, and Planned Parenthood agree, writing on their site that "in real life, about 22 out of 100 people who use withdrawal get pregnant every year — that’s about 1 in 5."

Planned Parenthood and Dr. Pearson are also in agreement that, if done perfectly, its effectiveness goes up to about 96%. However, executing the pull-out method effectively "is extremely hard to do," Pearson notes.

"Perfect use involves predicting ejaculation and pulling out before it happens and it’s not always possible to get that crucial timing right. Even if you are spot on, there is still a risk of pregnancy due to pre-ejaculation or pre-cum."

In other words, the Duke was a bit of a fool thinking the pull-out method would 100% guarantee he'd never sire an heir. (There's a sentence I never thought I'd write).

Pregnancy

Netflix

The women of Bridgerton didn’t have the luxury of nipping to the shops to get a pregnancy test if they thought they were expecting. Throughout the series, Miss Thompson and Daphne check their bedsheets and their underwear to see if there are blood stains. But this definitely isn’t the fail-safe method they hoped for.

“It’s not uncommon to experience light bleeding or spotting during your first trimester,” says Dr. Pearson, “This is called implantation bleeding which is when a fertilised egg cell attaches to the wall of the uterus in early pregnancy.”

As Clear Blue's Jennifer Walker and Dr Joanna Pike write, implantation bleeding can actually be "an early sign of pregnancy" – so the total opposite of what Miss Thompson and Daphne think.

It should be noted that heavy bleeding during pregnancy can be a cause for concern, and you should consult your doctor to rule out any risks.

Pleasure

Netflix

While Bridgerton left little to the imagination in the intimate scenes between society's most eligible singles, the show lost its nerve when it came to female masturbation. As Daphne is schooled in the art of self pleasure by the Duke on the bridge, he instructs her to touch “in between [her] legs” – a frustratingly vague instruction.

Women in the 1800s weren’t encouraged to explore their sexuality and sex was seen as an act of pro-creation rather than for pleasure. However, knowing your body and what you think feels good is healthy. According to a study from wellness brand Univia, masturbation is rated as the second most effective form of self-care and nearly 59% of people who said they masturbate weekly also said they have a positive body image.

So, let's talk about masturbation.

“The vagina is the name for the internal canal leading to the cervix, and the vulva is the external genitalia including the clitoris, labia and vagina opening. Vaginas and vulvas are like snowflakes, no two are exactly the same,” says Dr. Pearson, “Only 18% of women experience orgasm through vaginal penetration alone so when Simon tells Daphne to touch herself, he’s likely referring to the vulva which offers a plethora of pleasure. And interestingly, although it looks small, the clitoris we can see is just the tip of the iceberg and the rest of the organ spreads internally and can be up to five inches.”

For more tips of how to have fun by yourself, check out this guide to mastering a sexual wellness routine at home.