Sex education is most effective when it focuses on pleasure, study finds

In one Sex education episode, Maeve Wiley, who runs a high school sex therapy clinic, brings this seemingly rebellious idea to a sex-mandated school setting. sex education class: “You shouldn’t be ashamed of having sexual desires. You make sex terrifying, but you don’t have to. It can be fun and beautiful and teach you things about yourself and your body.

She talks about a module that preaches abstinence rather than sexual gratification. Clearly, as the show and the cultural discourse around safer sex shows, the idea is not to stigmatize desire or make people suspicious of sex just when they start to understand it. What will it take to make the conversation about safer sex more accessible and effective for students? It’s about making condoms ‘sexy’ and focusing on pleasure rather than protection, according to a new analysis of safer sex programs around the world.

The review, published in PLOS A journal last week, looks at the scope of sexual health programs with an emphasis on the notion of sexual pleasure. Groups included safer sex programs in the United States for men, sexual health classes for young people in Spain and Brazil, among others. Researchers, from the University of Oxford, UK, and the World Health Organisation, found that pleasure-focused sexual health programs ‘significantly improved’ the likelihood of participants using condoms . For example, if a program promotes condoms as essential to “fun” or if lubrication “enhances sexual pleasure”, researchers have noted a change in people’s behavior regarding safer sex.

In other words, programs that focus solely on disease prevention have limitations in convincing people. “This review provides a simple message: Programs that better reflect the reasons people have sex, including for pleasure, have better health outcomes,” said the study’s co-author, Lianne Gonsalves. Increased condom use also reduces the risk of infections and sexually transmitted diseases. In this case, a group using pleasure-focused safer sex interventions saw a 50% decrease in HIV/STI incidence – compared to a group using a more traditional route.

It can be said that sexual pleasure is a muffled conversation due to various social and cultural barriers. The dominant form of most sex education curricula and programs focuses on abstinence or how to minimize risk. By wrestling with the idea of ​​sexual gratification, they ignore how safer sex can “also promote intimacy, pleasure, consent, and well-being,” Gonsalves said.


Related to The Swaddle:

How novels shaped women’s understanding of sex in the absence of sex education


What should sex education not look like? Take this infamous dialogue from mean girls“Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up. Don’t do it, promise? Coach Carr said to a group of teenagers.

The prevalence of STIs or STDs is not unknown. Every day, nearly one million cases are detected worldwide. In India, every year nearly 30 million people report a sex-linked infection, although the number can be much higher. As most cases are asymptomatic, they pose a long-term health burden, increasing the risk of cancer, HIV, fetal complications and even death in some cases.

Using condoms is therefore the best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections, according to experts. Interestingly, India-specific data shows that most men are aware that regular use of condoms can reduce the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Yet one in ten choose not to wear one, according to a government inquiry. In 23 of the 36 regions for which data were collected, condom use was below 10%. “Yet usage remains low in both urban and rural areas; previous studies showed lack of sexual satisfaction, lack of comfort, stigma of buying condoms in stores as possible reasons,” The Swaddle reported earlier.

This makes it not just a public health conversation, but a cultural conversation. “An increase in female sterilization coupled with a continued stagnation in the uptake of male sterilization shows that the responsibility for family planning still rests with women,” as stated by The Federal Put the.

If focusing on sexual pleasure can shape how people perceive safe sex, integrating it into education modules is a must. “This study helps support the idea that a focus on pleasure is correlated with safer sex,” noted Rosara Torrisi, founding director of the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy, who was not involved in the study.

The idea is that if people are comfortable expressing what interests them, what they like, what they want, the subject of safer sex becomes easier to talk about. It can be a transition for partners to talk about “how to have safer sex”.

As Gonsalves said, “The hope is that these findings will galvanize the sexual and reproductive health and rights community to promote services that educate and equip users to have safe, consensual and pleasurable sex. “.