Sex Education – How Much Do You Actually Know About Sex?

In our clinical practice I go over every new patient’s sexual history, not only from a medical perspective, but from a sexuality aspect as well. We talk about their family of origin, how they learned about sex, their first experiences, any unwanted sexual touch, and even their best and worst experiences.  Since most people never think about their personal sexual history, many men find it really interesting to stand back and look at their sexual experiences and see how those experiences have affected them.

Source: LiveScience

The question that follows is: “So where or how did you learn about sex?”

Most men tend to shrug and say, “Oh, friends, TV, porn…. You know, just around.” 

I have learned to ask, “You realize that all those sources lied, right?”  And, whether they answer that question or not, as we continue our conversation, they soon realize that almost everything they learned about sex was, indeed, a lie.  It was not an intentional lie. No one meant to mislead them. It’s just that in our culture, no one really tells young men what sex is all about. So, most guys pick up cues from all these sources as to what sex looks like, feels like, and even sounds like.

I do point out that what most kids learn in school is not sex education; it is reproduction education. There is a huge difference. Reproduction education is learning about our bodies, how to make babies (or prevent babies), and how our bodies will change. No one tells us how to share our bodies.

While everyone knows porn is total fantasy, it is usually the primary source of information as to what sex looks like. So, boys grow into men, thinking that sex is a long-lasting erection that is used to penetrate as many orifices, in as many positions, as humanly possible.  It’s completely understandable. That is what women in porn seem to enjoy, so every woman must want that as well!

What no one ever tells young people is that great sex rarely looks like porn.  Great sex is about playing. Great sex is about sharing, giving, helping, exploring, laughing, sensing, and feeling.  Great sex changes constantly. Great sex has no rules. Great sex is as unique as each individual and as each combination of individuals.

How are people supposed to learn about sex? Granted, it would be great if families talked about it, but in our culture that is probably not going to happen very easily. I encourage men to become students of sex. If something is really, really important to someone, they tend to want to learn all about it. Look at men learning sports statistics, or all about cars, or all about computers. Men tend to have a fascination for what interests them.

Why is it we don’t do the same thing when it comes to sex?  Because most of us don’t know that we don’t know about sex. Everyone believes the same lie; men, women, schools, books, movies, and media. Couples have sex and often try to live up to the lie of what sex looks like, so it’s really hard to be honest and say “I don’t like this,” or “That doesn’t feel so good,” or “Is that all there is?” Learning about sex takes time, interest, curiosity, and work.  But like anything in life, hard work returns great rewards.

Some people will be happy with the most rudimentary education in life. Others want to finish college, get a master’s degree, and some even get a doctorate and push the envelope of knowledge.  You can apply the same principle to sex. Some people are OK with where they are; others want to change the world. Think about where you are now – and where you’d like to be.

Paul Nelson

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Paul is an AASECT certified sexuality educator and a clinical medical assistant.  He is president of the Erectile Dysfunction Foundation, and founder of, the largest online community for men’s sexual dysfunctions and maintains a private practice at  He works in New York City with Dr. Michael Werner ( as a patient/sexuality educator.  Paul is an instructor at the Institute for Sexuality Education and Enlightenment. He is an advocate for men’s reproductive health and has appeared on ABC News with Diane Sawyer, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, the BBC, and the New York Times. Paul is a member of the AUA, ISSM, AASECT, and SMSNA.
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