9 Things That Taught Us More About Sex Than Actual Sex Ed

Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
All too often, formal sex ed ends up feeling like a game of give and take in which no one wins. Maybe you learn how to use condoms, but you don't learn which STIs condoms actually protect against. Maybe you learn about menstruation, but you don't learn about sexual pleasure.

There's no reason you couldn't learn all of these things (and more!) in a sex ed class; it's just that a course that touches on all the valuable topics that fall under sexual education's wide umbrella is hard to come by. In fact, 75% of the roughly 500 people we surveyed didn't feel well-prepared to have sex after "completing" sex ed.

But that doesn't mean we were totally left in the dark. Instead, we went elsewhere to fill in those gaps. Often, this "elsewhere" wasn't a medical textbook; it was things like young adult fiction, other trusted adults you wouldn't expect, and of course, the all-powerful internet.

Ahead, 10 women (anonymously) share their most memorable and creative sources of sex ed outside of the classroom.

The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more here.

1 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"My grandmother left behind one of her bodice-ripper novels — titled something like French Silk — which had the most graphic description of clitoral stimulation I had ever read. Thus began a lifelong love of masturbation and romance novels!"
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2 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"JEWISH SLEEP-AWAY CAMP — SERIOUSLY."
3 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"I learned a lot from an online forum... I think it was Alloy's (remember that catalog, a competitor to Delia's? They also had a website starting in the late '90s or early 2000's). I remember poring through the comments about sex and periods and masturbation and learning what was 'normal' and what was urban legend."
4 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"Growing up, we had a fabulous gay house cleaner. When I turned 13, he gave me one of the most important life lessons a young girl can get — how to give a kick-ass blow job. True story. He taught me on a cucumber from my Mom's garden. While it took me years to perfect the art of giving head, the lessons I got from Brad in my kitchen allowed me to skip over a lot of awkward moments."
5 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"Laurell K. Hamilton vampire romance books! I read the Anita Blake series when I was in like eighth or ninth grade. Got a lot of great looks from my mom's friends who knew what was up."
6 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"gURL.com and that Gurl book from the '00s."
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7 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"My mom taught the sex ed classes to my middle school and high school and told me her dream was to be the next Dr. Ruth. My sex education was almost at the TMI...level. I went into kindergarten teaching all my friends what sex was."
8 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"Quizilla.com, anyone? The 'Seven Minutes In Heaven' quizzes (basically choose-your-own-adventure sex scenes) were highly informative. As a 13-year-old, my bedtime routine consisted of perusing Quizilla’s endless supply of Harry Potter-themed SMIH content, all of which end with you, alone, in the Room of Requirement, with the Hogwarts boy of your choice (if you didn’t pick Malfoy, you were doing it wrong)."
9 of 9
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
"Judy Blume's Summer Sisters should be renamed Cunnilingus: An Introduction."
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