In middle school and high school you received sex education, and what that meant exactly varied greatly from school to school, even teacher to teacher. And because there is no oversight on the curriculum being taught a result, you were probably exposed to many sex myths from health class. Which is a huge problem not only for your 13-year-old self, but your adult-self as well.
Teenagers are vulnerable to taking in a myth as an absolute truth, in part because they may have no other avenue of information on sex, and in part because they have been indoctrinated to believe everything they are taught in school. It's often not until college that some kids realize there are different angles of the truth and that school teaches only the chosen angle. When a teacher stands before the class and dismisses contraception questions, citing they are not allowed to answer those kinds of questions in a sex ed classroom, it's a powerful message to kids. What it says depends on who is listening, but to my thirteen year old daughter, the message was that if you choose to have sex, you won't get any help from the adults around you on how to do it responsibly or safely. Meanwhile, the United States continues to have the highest teen birth rate of any of the world’s developed nations.
Myths about human sexuality can be presented as improper statistics, facts, or simply the removal of crucial information. Below are some of the most common sexual myths that you probably learned in your ‘90s health class and , unfortunately, may still be propagated today.
1Heavy Petting Can Cause Pregnancy
Sperm are strong little swimmers, but according to some health teachers, they have legs, too. In fact, they can just stand right up and walk from a girl's thigh straight into her vagina.
As Planned Parenthood correctly notes, sperm can only impregnate a woman when put directly onto her vulva or into her vaginal canal.
2Abstinence Is The Only Way To Prevent Pregnancy
The only way to truly ensure you don't get pregnant is to avoid being naked and horny with a person of the opposite sex.
User error factors heavily in the failure of contraception, but the Centers For Disease Control notes that contraception done right has great success rates. When a condom is properly placed on the penis, it prevents 98 out of 100 possible pregnancies. The pill has a 9 percent failure rate. Using birth control in addition to refraining from sex during your most fertile days increases success rates of contraception.
3Sexual Education Outside Of Abstinence Will Increase Sexual Activity
Sexual education in public school often consists of only abstinence teachings, following the belief that if you teach kids about birth control and STD prevention, they will be more likely to engage in intercourse.
Advocates For Youth, an organization that advocates for and funds programs for comprehensive sexual teaching to teenagers, found through a five-year study mandated by the U.S. Congress that abstinence-only programs have no impact on young people’s sexual behavior. Let that sink in: NO IMPACT. So we spent (and are spending- this is the program at my 13-year-old daughter's middle school) thousands of dollars on programs that have zero impact on our children's actual behavior.
4Masturbation Is OK In Small Amounts
We moved on from "masturbation will send you to hell" and "masturbation will make you sterile" (please don't tell me we haven't), but plenty of kids are still being taught that while yes, it's natural to want to masturbate, it's probably best if you just chill out on that as much as you can and focus on your hobbies.
For many teens, thinking about sex is more of a past-time than any hobby will ever be. Masturbation is not only normal, but Best Health notes that it's a great stress reliever and a way for kids who are horny but who don't feel ready to engage in sexual activity to avoid total frustration. Psychology Today also acknowledges that masturbations is an important way of learning about your own body and sexuality.
5Orgasm Is About Sexual Penetration
Although a sexual education teacher may not directly say this, it's implied by the lack of any information on oral sex or the female orgasm. The only reference to orgasm is around the male orgasm. Not only is this incredibly bad education, it's sexist, and leaves the impression that girls function in sex is simply as a receptacle for sperm.
Men usually ejaculate during sex, but according to ABC News, 75 percent of women can't orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. For the majority of women, orgasm must be obtained through direct touch or oral sex.
Looks like not everything we learn in school is accurate. Not that you needed me to tell you that.