• Wed, Nov 7 2012

You Can Get Pregnant From Masturbation (And Other Untruths I ‘Learned’ From A Lack Of Sex Education)

Sex education is integral to developing a healthy, informed generation. Giving kids straight-forward lessons on how sex and their bodies actually works can prevent a whole slew of issues later on, including (but not limited to) pregnancy and STDs. We know this to be true because in areas where abstinence-only education is in place, there are higher teen pregnancy rates. I know this to be true because I was deeply confused about sex until I was in my mid-teens, but there are a lot of people who have stayed in the dark considerably longer and faced many more consequences.

When I was around 10 or so, I started masturbating. It wasn’t like I had one of those Rabbit vibrators or something; I just had a pillow and some thoughts about a few scenes in the latest James Bond movie. That was it. I didn’t have any idea what it was called, but I knew that it was (A) awesome (B) too awesome to be a good thing. I was ashamed of it, though, because I had heard in school through other kids that masturbation was something “very naughty” that would lead to you becoming pregnant.

So for years, I was literally petrified every time I masturbated. I would cry for hours afterward, feeling guilty, ashamed and confused about what I was doing. It would keep me up at night thinking about how angry my parents would be if suddenly, I were pregnant and they knew it was because I was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad daughter who couldn’t do anything right and actually (GASP) masturbated.

THE HORROR.

I actually didn’t even realize this wasn’t true until I was in my teen years and had switched schools to an independent high school that didn’t have to follow state curriculum. I logically knew it wasn’t true by then, but I still felt conflicted, guilty and didn’t entirely understand if there were actual consequences. My teacher explained that masturbation was completely natural and that nobody should feel bad about their bodies as long as they were safe.

I also believed–and was eventually informed otherwise–several other incorrect ideas about sex. In no particular order: if you do not shave, you will get herpes, and that razor burn and herpes are the same thing (yeah, this was a really confusing duo); swallowing semen will get you pregnant; wearing lingerie was the most appealing thing to anybody, ever, ever ever.

I also witnessed other people fall for lies or half-truths that other kids would spread, many of whom faced some difficult choices thereafter.

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  • Tania

    My elementary school and high school had very detailed sex-ed, and I don’t think anyone in my grade (a large high school for Vancouver) got pregnant. I can’t think of anyone in the school getting pregnant. There were condoms in a jar in the counsellor’s rooms, and the youth clinic which offered free everything was two blocks from the high school, so that might have helped.

    I will never understand abstinence-only education.

    • Guest

      Where as I grew up in a community with abstan only

    • http://www.facebook.com/sameurysm Samantha Escobar

      Your school system sounds AMAZING.

    • Tania

      It was really good! Although the pictures of advanced STDs definitely scared me off sex for a while (which wasn’t the intent; they were showing it so we’d get anything unusual checked out instead of waiting until our genitals looked like cauliflower and oh god I need some brain bleach).

    • Leila

      I got that same HIGHLY graphic STD slide show, and I really think it was intended to scare us off sex for a while. I couldn’t look at boys for like a week. Also, condoms for everyone ever!

  • Lo

    Agreed. Parents and schools should share responsibility for sex education, emotional and physical. It’s essential that kids don’t have just one reference for all this, no matter how well-intentioned.

  • Colleen

    When I turned 16, my mother took me to a gynecologist. I received my first ever pap smear with instructions that it should be done once a year. I learned how to give myself a breast exam, was put on birth control pills to help my irregular cycles (and mom said it was precaution, not permission), and free reign to ask the doctor anything I wanted about sex, puberty, and STDs. It was pretty freaking awesome. If I have a daughter someday I will probably go the same route.

  • camilla

    Stories like these make me so glad I’m Danish.. In Denmark we don’t mix religion with education (or anything else for that matters).. We educate.. I think abstinence only is stupid, cause you are supposed to educate the children, not scare them