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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Sex Ed Failed Us. Maybe This Will Help.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Sex. If you’ve been paying any attention to, well, the world, you may have seen this subject raised once or twice. What it is, how to do it, when to do it, who can do it: all questions that circulate our media and our minds. 

Sexy Sex Ed GIF by HannahWitton - Find & Share on GIPHY
Credit to Giphy. Image of Hannah Witton, a sex educator and author. Check out her website here.

Supposedly, our sex education classes in primary, middle and high school answered all our questions for us. You’ve got the penis. You’ve got the vagina. When you stick ‘em together, you get life. Sometimes you get sick. That covers everything right? Right? Sure… We went on believing this until we hit middle or high school and then suddenly: BAM! Sex was everywhere. In the news, in the media, in our books and our movies, we learned that it wasn’t just about procreation, but about pleasure and love and exploration. And no one told us what that meant. We understood the mechanics just fine, but no one told us about the emotions that are often behind it. And if you didn’t fit into the category of heterosexual sex, you were even more screwed!

No one told us about how to create and enjoy pleasure. No one told us the importance of consent, let alone HOW TO DO IT! No one told us sex doesn’t just involve a penis and a vagina and that frankly, many of us vagina holders need more than just a penis to enjoy it. No one told us that there was sex beyond a penis and a vagina. That the heterosexual “standard” for sex was not the end of it. No one told us about exploring our own bodies, or about vibrators or rings or beads. No one talked about BDSM. No one told us that not everyone enjoys or even wants sex, and THAT THAT IS OK! A penis and a vagina and a baby and illness. That is what we received. 

And so now, most of us are left to our own devices to figure out what this intimate part of our lives means. 

Well. Maybe this will help. Your curiosity and desire for answers about yourself, these activities, and the world that simultaneously supports and shames them…it’s all natural. Allow yourself to question and explore. I hope these resources help. 


  1. Planned Parenthood 
Credit to Pinterest and Ms.

We gotta start off with the big dog. The one that most people know. The one that draws the most media attention. 

If you’re looking for answers, this is the place to start. Planned Parenthood’s website covers everything from abortion to cancer to pleasure to masturbation. In fact I’ve compiled a list to get you started:

  • Sex and Pleasure
    • Toys
    • Orgasms
    • Arousal
  • How to talk to your partner about sex
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Abortion
  • Cancer
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Consent
  • Relationships
  • Birth control 
  • Emergency contraception

The list goes on and on. My suggestion? Start here. And if their website doesn’t have the information you need, schedule a visit here. They even have resources for educators and parents! It’s an organization by and for everyone. Planned Parenthood my friend: step one.

  1. The Trevor Project
Credit to Pinterest and the Trevor Project

While the incredible organization doesn’t address sex directly, they focus a large amount of their resources on education regarding sexual orientation. What does this mean? Sexual orientation is a term used to describe the way that and who people are sexually attracted to. 

Sexual orientation is an ENORMOUS part of sex. Understanding who you are or are not sexually attracted to is the first step in your sex journey. Learning who you will or will not be having sex with will help you begin to understand what that sex will look like. It’s also important to know if you want to have sex at all! Not feeling sexually attracted to anyone or only feeling attracted in certain circumstances is normal, and something important to understand and explore about yourself.

The Trevor Project has incredible resources and explanations regarding the exploration and understanding of your sexual orientation. 

Furthermore, it provides resources regarding mental health, gender identity, creating a supportive community, and even provides counseling and a 24/7 hotline should you need it. 

If you’re exploring who you are and who you are or aren’t attracted to, this is a wonderful place to start! 

Note: the site also has a quick escape option so if you need to close your browser quickly you can do so. Safety first my friends!

  1. The Love, Sex, and Gender Center
Mental Health Therapy GIF by YouTube - Find & Share on GIPHY
Credit to GIPHY

Therapy. It’s important, and frankly, looking at the state of the world, something I think should happen annually just like our annual check ups at the doctor. Yes, therapy is wonderful and if you haven’t tried it I highly recommend it. There’s therapy for everything. Individual therapy, couples therapy, trauma based therapy, and yes–sex therapy! 

Sometimes exploring the wide world of sex can be intimidating. Who am I kidding–it’s always intimidating. But having a guiding hand can help. That’s what sex therapy is for. Sex therapy can help you simply explore and understand sex and your sexual orientation, or it can get more specific. 

I’ve personally used the Love, Sex, and Gender Center which is the reason I chose to include it on this list. It was a wonderful experience filled with kind, patient people who made me feel welcome, normalized, and gave me resources to further explore my questions. If you’re looking for support, this might be a good place to start. 

The Love, Sex, and Gender Center can help you address issues like:

  • Gender Identity
  • Non-Traditional Relationships
  • Non-monogamous or monogamous relationships
  • BDSM, kinks, and fetishes
  • Erectile issues
  • Orgams issues
  • Sex addiction

And these are but a few of the areas they address. The center also includes couples and relationships counseling, providing service for both sexual and nonsexual issues!

Need a guiding hand? This might help!

  1. Fascinations

Toys are a great way to explore yourself and your partner. There are a LOT of shady sites out there on the internet. And when it comes to your body and your safety, we want the highest quality. 

Fascinations is a well known brand that has both an online and in-person shopping presence. If going to a store to purchase and explore your toy and lingerie options seems intimidating, explore their online site. Orders come in discreet packaging too so if you want to keep this part of your life private, you can. 

If toys are not in your interest or wheelhouse, that’s okay too! There is no right or wrong way to explore yourself with or without others (as long as it’s consensual and doesn’t cause harm). Start with what feels right. This may or may not come later. 

NOTE: This website doesn’t have much educational information about sex toys, BDSM, or other aspects of sexual intimacy. It’s purely included for a shopping opportunity. If you seek more information, check out Planned Parenthood and its information on sex toys (types, how to keep them clean, etc.) and other forms of sexual play.

  1. Healthysexual
Health Care Wellness GIF by INTO ACTION - Find & Share on GIPHY
Credit to GIPHY

One thing most of us did learn about were sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STD/I). They’re scary, they’re dangerous, all that good stuff. But what we weren’t taught was how to prevent or treat them. Other than using a condom or not having sex. Well. Yes. STDs are something to be taken seriously, and it’s always important to be aware of them when engaging in sex, BUT there’s more we can do to prevent them thannot have sex or always use a condom (though condoms are incredibly helpful in preventing STDs).

Healthysexual is an excellent website that provides information on what STDs are, how they can be transmitted, and what we can do to prevent them. They include resources on how and where to get tested, what the testing looks like, how to talk to your partner about their sexual/sexual health history, and the signs to look out for. 

The best part? They do it without bashing queer relationships. STD’s have often been associated with queer relationships and queer sex, yet they affect anyone and everyone who engages in sexual intimacy. That’s not to say you have to suddenly fear them, but be aware that they are a possibility and use resources like Healthysexual to explore what they are and how you can be proactive about them!

Well, that should get you started! Remember, sex is natural and normal and wanting to understand it and yourself is also natural and normal! Done carefully, with love and respect, it can be a beautiful, erotic, and healthy experience for all parties. Explore, learn, and love. 

The taboo around sex in the Western world has existed for centuries. My hope is that through articles like this, through conversations, through questioning and understanding, we can break that taboo. Sex and sexual identity are both complex, intriguing parts of the human experience. How wonderful is it that we are able to delve into this complexity, revel in it, find our voice in it? 

I hope you enjoy your journey and that it ends with a deeper understanding of yourself, the world, and the beings that inhabit it. Good luck, be safe, use your head, and follow your heart.

Hannah van Duursen

CU Boulder '25

Hannah (she/they) is a contributing writer at Her Campus at the CU Boulder chapter in Colorado. She covers a variety of topics ranging from pressing social justice issues to book reviews to discussions about mental and emotional health. Outside of their Her Campus work, Hannah enjoys volunteering at their local Planned Parenthood and seeking out other opportunities to give back to their community. Hannah is currently working towards a bachelors degree in Women and Gender studies and a minor in Spanish. She's passionate about social justice work and hopes to one day obtain her PhD to become a professor of Women and Gender studies. When not campaigning for human rights, Hannah can be found hiking in the woods or diving into a good book. They adores cats and can often be found at their local cat cafe sipping hot chocolate and hanging with the kitties! She's also a major movie buff and will talk for hours on end about her latest marathon to anyone who will listen. With her interest in the arts, it’s no surprise she enjoys creating herself. She currently houses a large collection of poems she’s written that cover everything from her thoughts on puppies to her questions about what humanities' role is in this small corner of the universe.