Ah, 2008. A pivotal year in which the US elected their first, black president; the charts were dominated by Jason Mraz, Natasha Bedingfield and T-Pain, and we were forced to grow up in the cold, ominous shadow of a post-Britney-head-shave world. Despite this; a chubby, frizzy-haired ten-year old girl was nervously eager to attend her first ever sex-education lesson. Twinkly-eyed and ever-optimistic, she was yet to realise this would set the horrifically awkward tone for the next eleven years of her life…
Sex-ed just isn’t very good, is it? Gathering ten-year old boys and girls into groups; encouraging them to write wang, minge, tits and bellend on an A3 piece of sugar paper was never really going to work. Showing forty sexually-repressed pre-teens aged videos showcasing Periods and The Journey of the Sperm featuring. Hottest Breakthrough Girl Band of 1994: Cleopatra is surely akin to the year six teachers saying; ‘we’re going on a tea break. Knock yourselves out!’
My point is, in lieu of genuinely informative sex education lessons; I found myself at the age of fifteen, stood in Sainsbury’s, pouring over an issue of Cosmo. Specifically an article entitled:
SHOCKING: We Asked Five Men What They Really Think When Receiving a Handjob!
(It wasn’t shocking, by the way. One of them confessed to thinking about bacon sandwiches.)
I’m almost twenty-one, a Vaginismus sufferer and about as sexually repressed as they come (or not, more’s the point!), if you’re going to spend your teenage years frantically searching for unfiltered sex-ed tips; let it be this one.
#1: NOT EVERY HYMEN IS THE SAME
I was taught in school that the inevitable first-time shag is the most uncomfortable, painful and gruesome. This is mainly due to the tearing of the Hymen (the thin layer of skin in the entrance to your vagina). What they neglected to tell me is that a lot of hymen wastes away naturally, particularly if you’re physically active. Not every person with a hymen is going to experience pain when it tears. Not every hymen bleeds. #NotAllHyMen
Oh, yeah. Remember that lil’ piece I wrote on living with Vaginismus? The one which you can access here? Hint hint? It’s pretty bloody common. Given that around thirty-three million people with vaginas live in the UK; and one in five-hundred of these people will experience Vaginismus at some point in their lifetime, it’s much more common than you think. Magazines and mental health led me to believe I was alone in that particular battle. It took one doctor to convince me otherwise. With symptoms including burning during penetration, struggling with attempting penetration and Anxiety; it’s important to get checked. You can access a full list of symptoms here.
What can I say? Shit happens. I mean, not shit. Hopefully. Unless you’re into that?
Moving swiftly on, farting is normal. The majority of us can hold our hands up freely and say we’ve all farted at least once during sex, or foreplay. I know, I know. It’s embarrassing, it’s life-ending, it’s the worst thing in the world… And then it’s over. Trust me, the words ‘it’s because I’ve had Lemonade! It was a Lemonade fart! It doesn’t even smell!’ will haunt me for the rest of my life.
#4: THE ANATOMY OF THE VULVA
Hang on, lemme get my megaphone.
THE VAGINA IS NOT THE SAME AS THE VULVA! REPEAT; THE VAGINA IS NOT THE SAME AS THE VULVA!
Little science lesson for you; the vulva is the omniscient genital area which encompasses the vagina, labia, clitoris and urethra. The vagina is the hole what babies come out of. You might hear the labia being referred to as the lips, or, less eloquently; the flaps. The urethra is where your urine escapes from. Your clitoris is either your ‘OH GOD, YES! MORE, MORE!’ button, or your ‘no thank you, I’d rather not be touched there’ out-of-bounds button. Capische?
#5: GIRLS ARE HORNY, TOO
We ARE! We’ve all got our own Maya Rudolph-voiced hormone monsters following us around; telling us to watch amateur porn and ride the vibrating washing machine with no knickers on. It’s NORMAL. Boys will try to make fun of you for it in school, but they’re masturbating too. It isn’t any more shameful just because you’re a girl. It’s your body. Spoiler alert; we also get blue balls, and we’re meant to orgasm through sex, too. Sex is not and should not be male-dominated.
#6: THINGS CAN GET MESSY…
Y’know what? I’m just gonna say it. Lube is disgusting. I mean, don’t get me wrong; it’s a Godsend, particularly for Vaginismus sufferers! But. It. Gets. Everywhere. Not even a euphemism. I hate having to clean it out of my bedsheets, my clothes, my floor; not to mention leakages are a nightmare. After a heavy session, you always find little sticky patches on your face and/or belly. It’s gross.
At the age of seventeen, a guy asked me what my favourite position was. I. Was. Baffled. So, naturally I found myself back on Cosmo frantically researching different ways to have. I knew I couldn’t reply to this steamy interrogation with ‘I was always taught to lie back and think of England, does that sound hot?’
Reverse Cowgirl, by the way. I said Reverse Cowgirl. I still don’t think I’m entirely sure of what that is.
#8: THE CUM TOWEL
Yeah… its’s not just a Trisha Paytas thing. I applaud it for it’s versatility, actually. It’s all well and good when you’re caught up in the moment, asking your sexual partner (sounds very clinical, doesn’t it? What else can I say? Sexual compadres? Cumpadres?) to finish wherever; but what about after the fact? Where do you put it? That’s where the cum towel comes in handy. For that specific moment when you’re perched awkwardly on the edge of the bed, moaning ‘hurry UP! It’s dripping!’
#9: IT’S OKAY TO LAUGH
Sex isn’t always going to be a fantasy. You’re not always going to be Beyoncé in the Partition video; dressed in suspenders, getting steamy in a boudoir. Sometimes you’re going to be on the sofa, surrounded by takeaways, stifling giggles at bodily noises. Sometimes you’re going to be chatting. That’s okay! Comfortability can be sexually attractive too.
#10: THE POST-COITAL PEE
You may not have been told to wee after you orgasm in sex-ed, so I’m telling you now. Wee after you orgasm. Urinary Tract Infections aren’t nice.
Read more from Hannah here