Sex education can be a gamble, if you had access to any at all. You might’ve gotten a clinical course about heterosexual baby-making or a stern lecture about abstinence until marriage. You might’ve also heard a few myths about virginity and queer sexuality that could really use clearing up. But you might not have gotten much in the way of helpful facts. Here are a few things you probably didn’t pick up from your high school sex education class.
1. The Morning After Pill Might Not Work in Higher-Weight People
Emergency contraceptives, aka “the morning after pill,” are up to 89% effective at preventing pregnancy, if used correctly. They’re a great choice if you forget to take your regular birth control, have unprotected sex, or your condom breaks. It’s also easier than ever to get the morning after pill and birth control online, discreetly and affordably.
But what you might not know is that, when it comes to emergency contraception, not everyone has the same odds. The morning after pill unfortunately just doesn’t work as well for people with larger bodies. Plan B has an upper limit of 165 lbs, while ella works for people who weigh up to 195 lbs. If you weigh more, you may need to consider other options.
If you weigh over 195 lbs, you might want to use a backup method of birth control, like condoms. You might also want to double check that your regular birth control method is right for you. The birth control patch, for example, isn’t recommended for people over a certain weight. It might not work as well as other available birth control methods.
The good news is: if your birth control fails, the morning after pill isn’t your only option. In bodies of all weights, you can consider getting an IUD as a form of emergency contraception. If inserted within five days after unprotected sex, a copper IUD is up to 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. If it’s legal in your state, you could also consider an abortion.
2. There’s No Such Thing as Normal
Desire exists on a massive spectrum that just isn’t addressed in most sex ed classes. You were lucky if you learned the basics of LGBTQ+ sexuality. It’s perfectly normal to be attracted to just one gender,or be interested in two or even more, genders. It’s also normal to have very little or no interest in sex with anyone at all.
When it comes to sex that falls outside the bounds of heteronormative, penis-in-vagina intercourse, there are a lot of misconceptions. Throw out what you think you know about tops, bottoms, strap-ons, and scissoring. Queer sex doesn’t necessarily look anything at all what popular culture might’ve taught you to expect.
For example, not all gay men have or enjoy anal sex. Among those who do, they might not do it every time they have sex. Meanwhile, gender expression has little to do with who you’re attracted to — or what you like to do with them in bed. For example, you can be nonbinary or trans and still consider yourself strictly heterosexual.
The range of genders, kinks, desires, curiosities, and more is almost endless. And at the end of the day, the only things that matter are consent and pleasure. If you’re having a good time and everyone present is enthusiastically happy to be there, anything goes. In today’s world, the only thing that isn’t normal is having a strict definition of what “normal” should look like.
3. Your Boundaries Matter…
In our culture, a lot of people — especially women — are taught that sex isn’t really about them. It’s often about getting someone else to love and care for them, and to give that person what they want. If you took sex ed, you might’ve learned the basics about the birds and the bees and protection. But you may not have been taught to advocate for yourself in bed.
In absolutely any sexual interaction, enthusiastic consent is fundamental for each and every different sexual act. Ideally, your partner should wait for a verbal “yes” or other clear indicator of consent. If you say yes to one activity, that doesn’t mean you have to agree to another. Any partner should be able to stop a sex act at any time they feel uncomfortable or lose interest.
Some people think it’s OK to persuade a partner to agree to sexual acts that they’re reluctant to engage in. But if someone has to be convinced, they aren’t really giving you their consent. Manipulating or coercing a person into having sex with you is always wrong. And in some cases, it may meet the legal definition of rape or sexual assault.
Even in a partnered relationship, such as marriage or with a boyfriend or girlfriend, consent is a fundamental requirement. You never have to have sex with your partner if you don’t feel like it. And if your partner demands sex or tries to force you into it, that’s never okay. If your partner forces you to have sex, it’s considered abuse, and you may want to seek domestic violence resources.
4. … But Your Body Count Doesn’t
The concept of virginity is a myth designed to shame and oppress women, period. It’s not rooted in any real biological or scientific facts or laws. The hymen — the thin piece of skin at the vaginal opening — can tear for all kinds of reasons. Many people lose their anatomical “virginity” when this tissue tears randomly during athletic activity.
Sex can’t make you impure, no matter what kind of genitals or gender identity you have. And being a woman doesn’t mean you should feel ashamed for choosing to have sex. Likewise, having more sex doesn’t make you less worthy or loveable. You should have sex with as few or as many (consenting) people you feel like having sex with.
On that subject, having multiple partners definitely doesn’t somehow wear out or loosen the vagina. If that were true, people in long-term relationships would have the weakest vaginal walls of all. The vagina is a powerful, resilient muscle that can expand to birth a baby and contract back to its regular size. Its tightness has little to do with how much sex you have or with whom.
After Consent, The Most Important Thing is Pleasure
If you’re trying to get pregnant, sex might be a goal-oriented activity. But most of the time people have sex, they’re doing it because it’s supposed to be fun. If you’re not enjoying sex, you might want to re-think your reasons for doing it. Or, talk to your partner about how you could both make it more pleasurable for you.