Let's face it: Sex can sometimes be an uncomfortable conversation topic when you're young. Whether your school had a teacher attempt to explain things in health class or your parents sat you down for a "birds and the bees" talk, chances are you spent a majority of the time learning about sex wishing that you were anywhere else.
Recently, Reddit user u/wilson-volleyball77 asked, "What is one sex education fail you’ve heard/experienced?"
Here are some of the best:
1. "If you use a tampon before sex, then you're no longer a virgin. The number of people that believe this is unbelievable."
"When I was a freshman in high school, my dad heard me tell my mom that I needed tampons from the store, and he freaked out. He thought that you had to have sex first before being able to use them. I was only 14, and I understood all that a lot better than him."
2. "There was this boy in my last year of high school who told me that he has unprotected sex with his girlfriend, explaining, 'She won't get pregnant because we do it just after her period has ended.' When I explained that doesn't work, he said, 'You don't get it. She won't get pregnant, it's not possible.'"
"Two months later, she had an abortion."
3. "Here's a good one, some girl thought that the only way she could get pregnant was DURING her period."
4. "My old roommate was talking about how you had to wash inside of your vagina with soap. He does not have a vagina or any brains, for that matter."
5. "Mine was being told to take a pregnancy test before taking Plan B the day after having sex. This man genuinely thought you could find out you were pregnant the day after, and that Plan B was an abortion pill."
6. "A guy once told me he thought periods lasted a whole month."
7. "I was asked this question, 'How will you be able to pee when you have your hysterectomy?'
"I had to tell my first girlfriend she didn’t pee out of her vagina. She didn’t know she had a urethra."
9. "Copying positions in porn. Porn positions are meant for the camera view, not comfort or pleasure."
"This is so widespread that I genuinely thought for the longest time something was wrong with me. I was assaulted more than once, and I thought it 'ruined me,' and that’s why I didn’t look like a porn star. I wouldn’t have sex with the lights on or let anyone see me until my most recent ex because I thought I would be seen as damaged goods. Past boyfriends would make comments, so it really wrecked my self-esteem. My ex and I broke up due to mental health issues, but I seriously am so grateful for that guy for really being the one to drill in my head that nothing is wrong with me."
11. "That my worth as a human being was inversely proportionate to the number of people I had slept with (or even thought about sleeping with)."
12. "Not exactly the same, but I somehow thought (I can't pinpoint exactly where I got it from) that being a virgin makes me attractive and kind of holy. I'm really not religious, but somehow, I believed my virginity is something to be protected and that it made me special."
"It's the religious version of 'I'm not like other girls!'"
13. "My ex thought having your period only lasted one day. He was mortified to hear the truth. He also thought only girls can give guys STDs, not the other way around."
14. "He told me there was no way that I could be vulnerable to conception because he smoked weed before we had sex. You can’t have much more of a failure than that, right?"
15. "The number of people who don’t know about birth control, how to use it properly, and the side effects of it. A guy at my work was telling us that his girlfriend was pregnant and she must have lied about being on birth control and baby trapped him. I asked if she had been sick or changed pills recently, and he said she had gastro about a week before she got pregnant. I told him that she probably wasn’t lying about being on birth control, but because she was sick, it didn’t get absorbed properly, and therefore, a baby happened."
"Everyone else in the office (made up of mostly adult women) were shocked and didn’t believe me until they Googled it."
16. "Our high school biology teacher told everyone she was Christian and didn't believe in sex outside of marriage, but she was required to teach some sort of sex ed. She played a half-hour video one time for which I was absent with another school activity. So, since I missed a 45-minute class once, I never got sex ed."
17. "My mom is convinced that I'm really unhealthy because I have an IUD and don't have a period. She thinks it's unnatural. I'm anemic, so my doctors specifically chose to stop my period to help with it. My mom doesn't understand."
18. "I work in sex ed, and I find it appalling how many people are still clueless about the clit and its importance. It is mystifying to me that so many men act like clitoral stimulation is optional and then get confused when their partners don’t enjoy or want sex as much as they do."
"Anatomically speaking, for most people, sex that ignores the clit is like sex that ignores the penis. Like, yeah, you’d feel that way if your penis was consistently being ignored by someone who claims to care about your pleasure, too."
19. "My sister sincerely asked if you can get pregnant if you found the condom up there when you peed the day after. The answer is obviously yes, immediately followed by, 'I'm taking you to get emergency contraceptives.' I ended up regularly advising my sister on her sexual health years before I became sexually active myself. The real kicker is I know she got excellent sex-ed."
"I know because we attended the same school (which had a really thorough and judgment-free program), and our parents got pregnant as teens, so they also took great care to make sure we got the talk young and without sugar coating. Realizing she had actively ignored all of it was both eye-opening and horrifying, and I am glad I had good enough sex ed to help her avoid repeating our parents' mistakes."
20. "My great aunt told me to put a Tylenol in there after sex."
21. "Pam Stenzel came to my high school and preached about abstinence. She said, 'Look to your left. Now look to your right. By the time you graduate, odds are one of you will end up pregnant.' After a pause, the entire auditorium burst out in laughter. I went to an all-boys Catholic school."
22. "My male sex education teacher told our entire classroom that period cramps do not exist and that he would not accept them as an excuse to get out of gym class. No one protested as it was grade nine, and the girls were too embarrassed to say otherwise."
23. "We were in med school, and one of my female classmates refused to use the swimming pool because she 'didn't want to get pregnant.'"
25. "A girl I used to know thought that you could get pregnant through oral sex. She was in her 20s."
26. "I knew a girl in high school who planned to have sex exactly as many times as it took to have two children, then never again. She was very upset when I suggested it might take 100+ times to have two kids, and also that she should make sure that her partner was on board with that plan."
"Her super-religious mother had told her a lot of stuff about how horrible sex is and how men are monsters and so on, so that was part of it. I also wondered, in retrospect, if she was asexual and just didn’t know she could have kids without having sex at all."
28. "No one ever mentioned discharge! I genuinely had no clue what it was and got scared that I'd somehow developed an STD whilst having zero exposure to one."
29. "'You can’t rape your wife,' said a male student in my COLLEGE women’s studies class."
"My teacher and I vented about it after class."
31. "In school, I had multiple presentations that used a tinfoil heart to symbolize sex and virginity. It was directed at girls. They crumpled the heart up to signify having sex, then straightened it back out afterward to signify how you’re no longer as good (because who wants wrinkly tin foil?). Basically, you’re no longer as desirable if you aren’t a virgin."
"Welcome to Arkansas sex ed."
32. "In fifth-grade reproductive health, we were talking about getting pregnant, and I brought up the option of abortions. They immediately shut me down, moved on, and contacted my parents."
"I had other kids coming up to me after asking what abortions were and to explain it."
33. "When I was 17, a girl my age asked me if I knew that women can masturbate."
34. "I was told stories about boys pressuring their girlfriends to sleep with them, then breaking up with them afterward because it was a test to see if the girl was pure. Lesson: Say no to your boyfriend. Not mentioned in the lesson: Boys, don’t sleep with your girlfriend and then break up with her for it."
35. "When I was a freshman in high school, we had a teacher who gently told every female to 'put a dime between her legs and never let it drop,' and shamed any girl who did so much as hug someone of the opposite gender."
36. "My sister, who was 15 or 16 years old, and her friends thought that it was ok to flush their used pad down the toilet. Of course, when I had to spend my morning unclogging the toilet, I made sure they understood very clearly that their pads don't dissolve."
"Our school district provided sex ed in the fifth grade for about two weeks, and she is the youngest sister as well, so I don't even know how she thought it was okay. Apparently, she's done it multiple times before that."
37. "A friend's mom told us they used to use cling film because they couldn't afford condoms."
38. "Multiple people I’ve encountered believe that only pulling out is a very effective form of birth control."
39. "Comparing porn to real-life sex. One of my best friends broke up with her boyfriend because he wanted to copy everything that was in porn, the sounds, moans, etc. He was disgusted when she was on her period, and he even cheated on her."
40. "A friend told me that her boyfriend said that she's tighter since she started working with all females, so he knows she was cheating on him before because the vagina is like memory foam — it forms perfectly to the last penis that was in it. She believed him."
"He had a lot of other stuff to say that was beyond incorrect, but this is the one that stood out the most."
41. "According to my ex, one Plan B pill would decrease your fertility by 25%. He freaked out on me thinking that I was already 50% infertile by the time we started dating. It was insane."
42. "I learned nothing about safe sex — basically only about how babies are made and nothing else at all. It wasn't abstinence-only, but they just said condoms exist and left it at that. Nothing about health. I had to learn about health on my own."
"Sex ed taught me that asexuality doesn't exist, nothing about breast health (we were told the symptoms of breast cancer but not what was normal, which gave me a breast cancer scare), and nothing about what was normal for people with vaginas, such as discharge. They also implied periods aren't that bad."
44. "A guy that I went to school with thought that the first time that two people have sex, the woman can’t get pregnant. I still have so many questions as to why he thought this and what the logic is."
45. "My sex ed was, 'When two people are married, they have sex to make a baby.' I started having sex at 16, and I was not taught about knowing when you’re ready, condoms, or about consent. So, I got taken advantage of a lot when I was younger. I’m 30 now, have healthy boundaries, and have great communication with my partner about sex. But I am honestly lucky that I don’t have an STD from having unprotected sex for a while. I was on birth control, so I didn’t even think condoms were necessary."
46. "'Sex is a dirty, messy, dangerous thing unless it's between a married man and a woman.' That was the opener to my freshman year sex-ed class, led by a woman who was also the sponsor of the school Christian Students club."
"Everything she went on to teach us was super sex-negative and shame-based."
47. "Condoms are a sin, so if you have premarital sex with a condom, you’re now committing TWO sins. Teens used this to justify not using condoms."
49. "Very recently, a coworker of mine asked if males only had a finite number of sperm their entire lives, or if they just made more. I wouldn't count this as the biggest failure, but found it interesting because I'd never heard this asked before."
"I thought he was joking at first, but he was serious. I used it as a teaching moment. I didn't judge him. You can't know what you don't know, after all."
50. "My friend's sister got pregnant after an abstinence-only sex-ed class. Because they taught her literally nothing, her older boyfriend convinced her that they only had to use a condom for the first orgasm every day because there's only sperm in the first ejaculation."
51. "My ex (who was 27 at the time) was dealing with an accidental pregnancy and needed some emotional support. After talking about it with him for a couple of weeks — the girl was going back and forth on abortion and then adoption — he asked me, 'Can you get a girl pregnant by fingering her? The dates don't make sense.'"
53. "I knew a guy who thought all women could lactate if they squeezed their nipples hard enough. He straight up asked me if I could do it for him, and I was so amazed he was serious."
54. "I told my ex I was really tired from PMS, and he just stared at me and said, 'Porn…Masturbation…Sex?'"
55. "There was a sex-ed talk in our school auditorium for an hour in 2008. The teacher told us, 'Don't EVER do anal. If you do, you will never be able to hold your poop in and will need to wear diapers for the rest of your life.' Back then, I was terrified of this. And my parents are the 'we pay taxes so the schools should teach you sex, not us' type, so I went years without knowing the truth."
"I have personally met friends (male and females) who have had nothing BUT anal sex, and I assure you, they are in their 30s, not wearing diapers, and don't have any leaks."
56. "When my husband and I first got together, I got a UTI. I’d never had one before, so I was being a big baby. I explained that we couldn’t have sex because I was majorly uncomfortable, and told him that I had a UTI. He said, 'That can’t be true, we used a condom!'"
57. "I genuinely believed the whole 'if you put it in the wrong hole, she can die' thing, which made sex for the first time incredibly stressful. I did not want to kill my first girlfriend. This is why I spent a lot of time with my fingers first to try to map it out and aim for the 'correct' hole."
58. "'Gretchen sexual' is a real quote from this dude who taught abstinence. He was 'only attracted to his wife, Gretchen.' The next year, this dude came and told us how he got an incurable STD from unprotected sex and is not abstinent by choice (he didn’t really say that, but it was obvious) because he kept bragging about all the sex he had."
59. "Old roommate used to complain about yeast infections all the time. She separately told me that her mom told her to spit on her toilet paper if she ever wiped in a public bathroom to make it cleaner. I kindly explained to her that she may have found the problem."
60. "A few years ago in my 20s, I had to explain to a grown-ass man (in his 40s) that you can get STDs from oral sex. He tried to argue with, 'But I have nice teeth, no cavities.' He went silent after I sent him a few links explaining oral STDs and how you get cavities in your teeth."
61. "My manager, female, got a kidney stone that was really big, but it was positioned where the doctors couldn’t break it up. My 38-year-old coworker said it’s less painful for women to pass kidney stones since we are built to push out babies. I had to make him clarify that he thought both of those things would come out of the same hole."
"Then I had to teach a man who had been sexually active for two decades, that women don’t give birth and pee from the same hole, and show him pictures that I easily Googled."
62. "I have twins. Someone asked me if we had to have sex twice for that to happen."
Do you have any sex-ed fails of your own to share? Let me know in the comments!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.