Just 31 Things We Should Have Been Taught In Sex Ed But Weren't
"I wish we had learned more about consent. No one ever talked about consent..."
1. "That not everyone feels sexual attraction or wants to have sex. I spent the first 30 years of my life feeling broken because what I felt didn't line up with what I was taught was natural/normal. Once I discovered I was asexual, I was released from that fear/despair/self-loathing. When we teach about sexual orientation, we need to talk about ALL of them."
2. "They should have taught us about our genitals in general! Some parents can’t bear to talk about anything to do with genitals, and so much can go wrong down there that has nothing to do with sex or pregnancy. And if something pops up or itches, our first thought shouldn’t be herpes because the only frame of reference we have is the stuff we learn about during the one week we spend on sex education."
3. "I wish they had taught us about Planned Parenthood and services like this. I can’t tell you how many girls in my dorm were broke (and showering in dirty communal showers) who just got yeast infections and either didn't have the funds to see a doctor or didn’t want to see their family doctors for fear that it was an STD. Planned Parenthood was affordable and anonymous and helped them treat things that had basically nothing to do with sex."
4. "I wish we had learned that women have orgasms too. I went to a private school, and they never taught us that women orgasm too; they only taught us about male orgasms."
5. "I wish we had learned about period shits. I never knew that many women also experienced diarrhea when cramping."
6. "Gender identity and queerness. I almost didn't make it through my teens due to crippling gender dysphoria leading to years of suicidal thoughts."
7. "It would have been great to learn about lubrication, and that there is 100% NOTHING wrong with needing it. I didn't know what was wrong when it came to sex with my ex-husband for a long time — why it hurt and felt like my inner skin was ripping. After I called a health service and spoke to a nurse, they recommended lube, and EVERYTHING CHANGED FOR THE BETTER."
9. "Sex education should teach kids what is not a healthy relationship. It should also teach that having a healthy, active sex life is normal when you as an individual are ready for it — and no one can tell you when you're ready for it. It's something you have to figure out and decide for yourself."
10. "I wish I was taught that sexual pleasure is okay and that safe and consensual sex is a good thing. I was taught about STDs/STIs and pregnancy. It was presented as if only bad things can happen, but I was not told how to prevent some of those things, and that your partner's and your pleasure isn't a bad thing. It’s human."
12. "I would have loved to learn about all of the forms sex can take. I came out of sex ed knowing the missionary position and that some guys will try to put it up your ass. That was it. Now, 20 years later, I STILL have questions."
13. "I wish they taught us that it is normal for a woman to stop wanting to be sexually active sometime around her twenties and thirties, regardless of relationship status. I thought I was broken for SO long. Don't worry — your sex drive does come back!"
14. "I know I’m not the only one, but...I would have loved to be taught how to put a tampon in. I now know that it says it on the packaging, but I spent at least a whole year doing it wrong."
15. "That sexual attraction is a spectrum, that things like gray-sexuality and demi-sexuality exist, and that there’s nothing wrong or strange about being on the asexual spectrum."
16. "All the methods of contraception available. I only knew about condoms and pills — imagine my surprise when I found out there were waaaay more methods."
17. "It would have been great to learn about how your cervix can actually move — and that it moves throughout your cycle and can impact which sexual positions are comfortable for you and your partner. It does not mean something is 'wrong' with you."
18. "It's always pissed me off that I learned about my clit from porn instead of sexual health education."
19. "Genitalia doesn’t always look like the diagrams. We are all different and beautiful."
20. "I wish sexual and reproductive health classes were required to talk not just about the different kinds of birth control but also about how to access them, especially if you don't have insurance, or have parents who are nosy or against it. I had a friend whose parents were extremists and would have kicked her out if they found birth control. She had no idea until I told her (we were both 22, by the way) about IUDs being subtle and long-lasting. She thought I was joking."
21. "I wish I had been taught that female masturbation was a good thing. It would’ve helped with urges versus one-night stands."
22. "Could we teach people about exactly how thoroughly you CAN and SHOULD wash genitals, please?"
23. "Or how to speak about sex — boundaries, tips on saying no in unsafe situations, things to ask your partners beyond STD histories, etc. All of my education was logistics of the physical — nothing about navigating honest, adult conversations or creepy internet dates."
24. "I wish we learned about infections in the genitals and how to fix them. Sometimes you can get a yeast infection or a UTI without having sexual intercourse. I wish someone had told me earlier so that I wouldn't think I was going to die."
25. "People with female anatomy sometimes feel arousal only when they’re stimulated, whereas people with male anatomy tend to feel arousal before stimulation. Learning about this was eye-opening. I’ve always thought I was broken because I’m only ever 'in the mood' when things are already happening. But it turns out that I’m okay and American sex ed sucks."
26. "The fact that IUDs exist!! Considering how many awful side effects the Pill can come with, I wish I had been taught about IUDs. They are more effective and less harmful, last longer, and can be a better option overall."
28. "Vaginal discharge. For years I thought that something was wrong with me, but I was too embarrassed to ask. Now, as an adult trying to conceive, I'm learning about all the differences in discharge and cervical mucus. I feel like this should've been covered back in the day, instead of me being left alone to go incognito in web browsers at 27."
29. "In addition, we were never taught all of the different phases that the female reproductive system goes through within a single menstrual cycle. We really only learned the basic anatomy (and how to avoid pregnancy), and that's about it."
30. "The difficulties you can face as a woman. Penetration may not be possible for a while; it may hurt, and you may need to try different positions or accessories until you’re comfortable. I also would have loved to learn that sex can be about fun, and not just about making babies. I wish I’d learned that it was nothing to be ashamed of — perhaps I would have grown up a little less scared of it."
31. And finally: "That your vagina makes noises, it can change smell (not always a bad thing), and — yes! — it’s acidic and can bleach your undies! It took way too long to figure out what the hell was happening to my panties."
What's something you wish you had been taught in sex ed? Let us know in the comments!
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.