As we stand right now, only 29 states teach sex ed in high schools, many of which have loose regulations over curriculum and topics. This leaves many students across the country with unanswered questions. Whether your school didn’t teach sex ed at all or what they did teach left much to be desired, opening the conversation can help break down the shame and silence some young adults feel around sexual health topics. The minimal sex ed I got, left me feeling confused, so much so that I turned to Cosmo for answers. Unfortunately, sometimes this reliance on a magazine led to even more confusion. If you were lucky enough to go to a school that had a successful program, I hope that more schools revise their curriculum so all students feel as comfortable as you do.
Here are three topics I wish had been covered in my sex ed class that you might also have been missing, and some resources in case you want to take your learning further.
- How to Deal with Periods
Personally, I was the last girl in my class to get her period and none of my friends talked about it. The cloak of silence around the topic can lead to a lot of misconceptions. Many young girls deal with unbearably painful or heavy periods, yet don’t realize there are options that they can utilize to lessen or temporarily stop their cycle. Due to the silence around the subject, I only recently realized that I was using tampons incorrectly! Such a small misunderstanding that was never addressed for six years because I didn’t speak with anyone about it. Even for the girls who don’t feel confused about the subject, having an honest conversation with a trusted adult and peers can create a safe place that is beneficial for students. Overall, a more in-depth conversation about all the ways to manage periods would be beneficial to the majority of students and is severely lacking in our current education.
- Medications Can Affect the Performance of Birth Control
Something I didn’t know until recently is that many medications can affect the way that hormonal birth controls work. Different types of antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-anxieties, and even ingredients in supplements can interfere with the way that hormones work in your body. Of course, the best way to determine if a medication can lessen your birth control’s effectiveness is to ask your doctor, and not all of these medications will render your birth control useless. But addressing topics such as these in a sex ed class is important so that women know to ask these questions when getting a prescription.
- How to Safely Use Dating Apps
In an increasingly digital world, it’s time that curriculums start to keep up. By addressing how to safely navigate the world of online dating, schools can help ensure the future safety of their students. While most high school students are too young to create dating app accounts, this discussion is important to have before they run into uncomfortable or unsafe situations. At my high school, there were many underage students using various apps with very little direction about how to use them safely. Young adults are likely going to continue using these virtual services, and giving them the tools to do so comfortably will benefit them in the long run.
When it comes to our sexual health, knowledge is power. The more information we give young people about their bodies allows them to make the best choices for themselves. If you also felt like your sex ed (or lack thereof) was missing important topics or if your curriculum covered a subject you happy you learned about, comment them below! And if you still have questions that are concerning you, there are still ways to find answers. Planned Parenthood’s website, The Center in San Luis Obispo, and Cal Poly’s Health and Wellness Services all offer different options to meet your needs. Creating open conversations about our bodies is the first step towards empowering each other to make educated decisions regarding our bodies and feel comfortable with discussions about our sexual health.