Adult Sex Education: Bridging the Gaps in Our Knowledge
Sex is an integral part of life and when it comes to sexual wellness, information is key to making important decisions and navigating our sex lives. Yet, many of us received sex education in school that was lacking, leaving us with gaps in our knowledge around intimate health going into adulthood.
Talking to others about their sex education classes, most people recall learning about the reproductive function of sex, and that classes were split so that the girls learnt about periods, and the boys learn about wet dreams. It didn’t cover sex for pleasure, the emotional or psychological aspects to sex and for the most part only focused on heterosexual and penetrative sex. According to a recent YES customer survey, 22% wished that sex education had taught them about the emotional side of sex; 19% about peer pressure, 12% wanted to learn more about vaginal dryness and the fact that sex can be painful. Other responses included wishing that they had been given more information on STIs; that sex can be enjoyed for pleasure; how to properly insert a tampon; more details of the anatomy; masturbation; different birth control options and sex in relation to other sexualities other than just heterosexual sexual relationships.
Sex-negative messagingSex ed was also often filled with a lot of negative messaging, as Dr Karen Gurney points out, ‘ for many of us our early sex education was a mish-mash of scaremongering, finger-pointing and threats of impending disaster…don’t get pregnant, don’t get an STI, and, actually, try not to have sex at all okay?’<1> Sound familiar? The quality of sex education that we all received is likely to vary (and has hopefully come on a long way in schools today), but it does have some valuable advice at its core. Unfortunately, the unhelpful way that it can be presented means that we often miss those core messages. Many sex-negative messages are conveyed with a sense of fear, disgust, embarrassment, or shame.<2> According to Dr Karen Gurney, ‘the way we learn about sex shapes our perception of it. Many women are still psychologically imprisoned by the way in which the concept of sex was presented to them, as something shameful, dirty and not to be celebrated.’<3> The reality of how bodily changes can potentially affect our sexuality in adulthood is often overlooked, including how the vagina changes from the start of our menstrual cycle, to menopause and even post-birth, and how we could combat any difficulties that we might face. This gap in our education and inadvertent body shaming often leads to embarrassed people reluctant to come forward after facing certain unexpected situations or symptoms, questioning ‘am I normal?’, which often leads to unnecessary suffering in silence.
How can we turn sex negativity into sex positivity?We need to think about sex and communicate about sex in a more positive way. Providing you take the appropriate precautions sex can be great! Afterall, it’s fun and we should be able to enjoy it! Part of the solution is to create safe spaces to discuss sex, sexual or intimate disfunction and share experiences without judgement. ‘Sex is about pleasure and enjoyment, but it’s also important not to forget that some aspects of sex are difficult and can be painful, which is why it’s important to discuss these openly’<4> says Ruby Rare.
How will The YES YES Company help?
We want to help create a safe space for discussion and education on all things sex and intimate health related. We believe it is important to help educate people about their bodies and to make informed decisions about the products they are putting on and in them. We are creating this space through conversations on our social media accounts, via our Live Chat service with our customer service team and our health and wellbeing hub. Equally, we are joining you on this sex ed journey. We are experts on YES products first and foremost, so if we can’t answer a question, we’ll call on our friends who can. From sexual health therapists, to pleasure influencers and menopause experts, we’ve got you covered!
To start you on your adult sex education journey, check out some of our favourite resources:
- Download the free YES guide to Vaginal Dryness Causes, Symptoms and Natural Treatment
- ‘Sex Ed, A Guide For Adults’ by Ruby Rare
- ‘Mind The Gap: The truth about desire and how to futureproof your sex life’ by Karen Gurney
- ‘My Menopausal Vagina’ by Jane Lewis.
- ‘What is a Vulva Anyway?’ booklet by Brook
- Vulva anatomy worksheet by The Vagina Museum
Upcoming EventsKeep an eye on our social media accounts for giveaways with some of our favourite intimate health brands, and live chats discussing a range of intimate health topics including:
- ‘Talking Vaginas’ IGTV series with Lavinia Winch (View Episode 1 with Liz O’Riordan, here)
- Emma Brockwell & Eleanor Gardner on Incontinence via IGTV - Monday 23rd November 2020, 7.30pm
- Erica Lewis & Eleanor Gardner on Pelvic Pain via IGTV – Thursday 3rd December, 8pm