I never had a candid conversation about sex until I started college. Once I found a supportive group of people who were willing to talk about sex, I started to have the confidence to discuss it with my peers, allowing me to lose my sense of fear and hesitation.Other than having the infamous sex talk and a discussion about periods with my mom, sex was something that was not really mentioned growing up. This was completely fine by me: the idea of talking about sex with my mother made me very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn much from my school’s sex education class either. Rather than having sex-positive conversations, the class put great emphasis on the dangers of sex.Two new papers published by researchers from Columbia University studied the effects of abstinence-only sex education programs. The findings revealed that between 2002 and 2014, the percentage of schools in the United States that required students to take a sex education course decreased from 67 to 48 percent. Regardless of your opinion on when one should become sexually active, it is essential to be educated and have healthy discussions about safe sex. Having honest dialogue about sex allows people to openly discuss their emotions without feeling judgment and can give us a sense of preparedness when something unexpected occurs.Courtesy of GiphyI had sex for the first time in the beginning of my freshman year of college with a guy I met on Tinder. Afterward, I felt anxious, emotionally detached, and just wanted to be by myself. For a long time, I didn’t tell anyone how I felt because I was ashamed and extremely confused. Sex ed certainly did not prepare me for this.I slowly began to tell a small group of friends about how I was feeling, and they assured me that my emotions were valid and completely normal. After telling one friend about how detached I became post-sex, she told me how she experienced something similar. Knowing I was not the only person who felt this way brought me a great deal of comfort and reassured me that I am not the first person to ever experience these feelings. By having a group of supportive friends and talking to people who went through similar experiences as I did, I began to develop the courage to ask questions and feel more comfortable discussing sexual topics.Courtesy of GiphyWomen (and men) can greatly benefit from having open conversations about sex. Having real conversations about sex has personally raised my confidence level and helped me in a way I would have never expected. Talking to others and sharing advice from past experience reinforces the idea that the problems you are facing are also happening to a lot of other people as well.