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Here's Some Sex Education You Actually Need — Including How Much Porn Is Too Much and Whether You Really Need to Pee After Sex

Let's just say there's a lot that's not always covered in sex ed.

Sometimes the sex education we learn around the world isn't, well, that educational. So we've spoken to sex educators, doctors, and medical experts of all kinds to compile some information we think everyone should have access to. This list is not exhaustive, and will probably always need adding onto, so feel free to let us know what you may still be curious about at the end!

A screencap from "Sex Education" saying "Because when shame is used as a weapon, it doesn't just hurt people, it can damage them forever"

1. Virginity is not really a thing. Relying on someone's hymen to determine whether or not they are considered a "virgin" is wildly misleading and, according to Dr. Diane Horvath (MD, MPH), also based on a patriarchal fairy tale that a penis is so powerful it can change who a person is.

A screencap from the scene in Clueless that features Tai saying, "You're a virgin who can't drive"

2. Birth control pills are not the only form of birth control on the market. Dr. Horvath likes to think about birth control in three categories: things that you use at the time you have sex, things that you have to take every day/week/month, and things that work over the long term.

Stock image of a birth control packet of pills

3. Dr. Horvath continues that things you take daily/weekly/monthly for birth control purposes include hormonal contraception like pills, patches, and vaginal rings. You’ll generally need a prescription for these, though there are online telehealth services that don’t require an in-person exam. And, Dr. Horvath adds, "Some states allow pharmacists to dispense these products, so it’s worth checking to see if that applies to where you live."

A stock image of someone holding up a birth control ring in front of a pink background

4. The last main category of birth control, according to Dr. Horvath, includes things that are effective for months, years, or even permanently. The shot, an IUD, or more permanent surgical options are examples of this.

A stock image of an IUD

5. Let's get to the bottom of squirting once and for all. Most experts seem to think that "cumming" — if you will — and squirting are two different things: squirting is the release of clear, watery fluid from the bladder through the urethra, sometimes up to 10 tablespoons. And vaginal ejaculation is thought to be from a structure called the Skene’s gland which is located under the urethra.

A stock image of a woman holding a hose

6. And, according to Dr. Horvath, the fluid from female ejaculation is usually thicker and whitish, and there’s less of it — typically up to a tablespoon.

A stock image of a kiwi fruit being squirted with water

7. STIs are often part of having sex, and they’re nothing to be ashamed of!!!! You wouldn’t be embarrassed to catch a cold at work, school, or a party, and likewise you shouldn’t be ashamed of catching an STI.

A piece of fruit depicting a vagina on a pink background color next to a gynecological speculum

8. Seriously, STIs are common. We're talking, like, 1 in 5 people currently have an STI, though many may not even know it. And about half of new STIs are acquired by people ages 15–24.

a gloved hand holding a tube of blood labeled "STI Test"

9. Some STIs, like herpes, are incurable but mostly harmless (if annoying). Others, like syphilis, are curable but can be dangerous if left untreated according to Rymland.

Stock image of a banana with a condom on it

10. Ok, so STIs are oftentimes asymptomatic, but there are some symptoms that people should be on the lookout for. According to Rymland, these include any changes in your genital region; like painful urination, pelvic pain, unusual discharge, or odors.

A stock image of a cacti bent over, struggling to stand upright

11. In terms of testing for STIs, unfortunately you may not be able to rely on your primary care provider or gynecologist to give you comprehensive testing — many don’t test unless you explicitly ask for it, or only test for chlamydia and things that affect fertility.

a person's hand in a thumbs-up position with the top of a condom on the thumb

12. And, by the way, it's worth noting that there are some STIs that can be transmitted through saliva.

A close-up image of two people swapping saliva and touching tongues

13. And remember, some STIs can be passed through oral sex, as well as through toys, so sexually active people should consider using dental dams for oral sex and condoms or other protective barriers on any shared toys. You should also clean toys regularly!

Stock image of pink sex toys on a yellow background

14. In terms of periods, there’s a pretty wide range of normal when it comes to periods, and according to Dr. Horvath, what’s normal for any one person can change throughout their lifetime. And no, severe pain during your cycle isn't normal and shouldn't be brushed off!

Stock image of a woman sitting on a toilet

15. And remember, while it can be relatively normal to have some cramping before and during a period, it’s NOT normal to miss work, school, or other regular activities because of pain.

Stock image of a woman in underwear, stained with period blood

16. And, abortion actually is healthcare! And it's ok to learn about what abortion actually is and why access to it is crucial for all kinds of people.

A woman holding up a sign at a protest for abortion rights that reads, "I trust women to make their own decisions."

17. The other option for early abortion is medication abortion. This is NOT the same as emergency contraception/Plan B/the morning after pill, notes Dr. Horvath. She goes on to explain that medication abortion typically involves two different medicines — mifepristone, which stops the growth of the pregnancy, and misoprostol, which softens the cervix and causes the cramping you’ll need in order to pass the pregnancy as you would in a miscarriage.

Stock image of a hand holding two pills

18. Vaginal discharge is normal, but there are certain kinds of discharge that could indicate a problem worth talking to a medical professional about.

An image top down of underwear

19. Painful sex is not normal. And according to Dr. Heather Jeffcoat, pelvic floor physical therapist and author of the book, Sex Without Pain, sex is not supposed to hurt — ever! If it does, the reasons for this pain must be determined. She adds that, unfortunately, our society has normalized pain to the point where women are not seeking what could be critical care. So let's dive into reasons as to why this may be the case.

20. With painful sex, the first thing that needs to be ruled out by a physician is an infection or other underlying medically-treated condition. By "medically-treated," Dr. Jeffcoat clarifies that she is referring to conditions requiring medication (typically topical/local or oral), surgery, or in-office procedure.

A stock photo of a woman's legs in stirrups at the gynecologist office

21. And, says Dr. Jeffcoat, don’t lose all heart if your gynecologist can’t ’see’ your pain. "With endometriosis, for example, there is no single imaging that will capture all types of endometriosis, which is why laparoscopic excision surgery remains the gold standard."

Stock image of a woman at the gynecologist

22. And, according to Dr. Jeffcoat, when a couple is engaging in penetrative intercourse, there may also be signs that additional intervention may be needed.

Screencap from "Friends with benefits" showing Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake in bed together

23. And it's really important to remember that penetrative sex is far from the only way to have sex. Dr. Jeffcoat explains that sex is really how the individual and/or the couple define it. She continued, "Masturbation is a form of sex if that’s how one defines it. Partnered sex without penetration of penis or dildo in the vagina, for example, is also a form of sex if that’s how you define it. But you may define sex as only penis-in-vagina, and that is okay, too."

Screencap of a masturbation scene from "Dear White People"

24. Peeing after sex *is* a good idea, BUT, if you don’t feel the urge to pee and aren’t prone to UTI’s, don’t force yourself to go, says Dr. Jeffcoat. Straining to pee can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction over time, such as pelvic organ prolapse, and should be avoided.

A still of Jemima Kirke of "Girls" sitting on a toilet

25. All sex education classes should include a broader scope of female pelvic health, including bladder and bowel health, says Dr. Jeffcoat.

A screencap of Aimee Lou Wood from Netflix's "Sex Education"

26. Watching porn is a tool for entertainment — but not education — according to Cassandra Corrado, a sex educator who specializes in helping adults unlearn the shame and misinformation they learned when they were younger. So, Corrado continues, remember to not judge your body or sexual experiences based on what you might see in porn.

Stock image of a computer screen that says "porn"

27. Cassandra believes that generally speaking, sexual media like porn isn't inherently all harmful or all good — it's complex, and is going to depend on a lot of factors.

Stock image of barbie doll legs sticking out from under a blanket

28. And when it comes to consent, Corrado sums it up nicely: Consent is just a conversation. And when we think about it that way, it becomes a lot less scary or overwhelming.

29. When it comes to conversations about sexual orientation, gender identity, gender roles, relationship structures, and more, it doesn't do anyone any good to speak in rigid, dichotomous terms about who we assume our students are or should be, says Corrado.

So, there you have it! Some education around sex that hopefully you can actually use. What other topics should we dive into in the future? Let us know in the comments!