Let’s be real here – the amount of actual beneficial information you learn about sex in sex ed classes can be pretty hit and miss. Some schools don’t even have formal sexual education, and others teach the biology but skip over practical information about birth control methods and STI protection, which isn’t exactly helpful. (In fact, research has shown that teens who get comprehensive sexual education — with all the nitty-gritty details — actually had a significantly lower risk of pregnancy than those who didn’t.)
The more informed you are, and the more you learn about sex, the more likely you’ll make smart decisions about sex and relationships later down the line — so if you experience pretty bad sex education, you’ll probably need to fill in the gaps. It’s really important for young people to be aware and informed with sex ed, no matter where they are getting that information from. Here are a few things you need to know (even if you’re nowhere near feeling ready to do the deed) that most likely wasn’t mentioned in school sex ed.
A huge component of learning about sex is consent. Consent in sexual situations is usually taught as, “If a woman says no, it means no.” That’s nice, but it completely glosses over the complexity of the issue. It continues to frame sex in a “Women get to decide, you have to convince them,” perspective. This reinforces the perception that men must somehow prove themselves to women and women must somehow be “won over” by a man to have sex with him. Often conversations around consent don’t touch on same-sex relationships either.
Sexual intentions and desires should be stated clearly from the get-go by both parties. And I don’t just mean, “I want to have sex with you,” or a little grunt every now and again, but every step of the way. “I’m attracted to you, I want to go out with you,” “I want to go home with you,” and so on. When you learn about sex, you should be taught that there’s nothing shameful about saying “yes” or “no” and that you should not be ashamed nor shame someone else for saying either. This is regardless of gender, orientation or reason.
Contraception is not a one-size-fits-all solution
Figuratively and literally. There’s the male condom, the female condom, the IUD/coil, the implant, the injection, the patch. The list continues. There’s literally dozens of different contraceptive pills. Basically, you have options. It’s up to you and your doctor to determine which one works best for you, and it may take a little trial and error.
As with all medications, there’s a risk of side effects with contraception, so be sure to tell your doctor if anything feels off so they can help you find a method that actually makes life easier.
Lube is your new bestie
When in doubt, add lube. But not oil-based lube, because that can make latex condoms less effective. Water-based and silicone-based lubes can make sex feel more awesome for everyone involved. You can also get specialist anal lube if that’s your thing.
Pee. All the time.
I did not realise the sheer importance of pee until I started having sex. Ideally you should be peeing before sex, and always always after sex to help prevent those nasty UTIs.
Peeing after sex is the best 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.
WHERE THE DAMN CLITORIS IS AND WHAT IT’S FOR
Seriously. That’s my whole point.
It’s not all about penetration
First of all, thinking that a penis entering a vagina is the only definition of sex is some seriously hetero-normative BS. Where does that leave lesbian or gay couples? Not very inclusive is it. And second, this definition is wildly limiting even for straight couples. When you learn about sex, you were likely taught the process of reproducing and totally left out any information on having sex for pleasure. In truth, there are a variety of other ways to experience sex including oral, clitoral stimulation, and anal play (which doesn’t have to mean penetration).
Maybe anal play is more your vibe
Honestly, I can’t recall ever discussing anything remotely related to 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.
What sex essentials were missing from your sex ed classes? What have you learnt about sex since sex ed in school? Let me know in the comments!
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