Between sexual education and sexualization

Experiences of sexologist with youth

Very young people – adolescents and young adults – come to sexologists more and more often. The search for professional help is caused by erectile dysfunction, desire and excitement disorders, difficulty making decisions about having sex and other problems. Unfortunately a visit to a specialist is often associated with high stress and is preceded by many doubts and internal fight against shame and facing the question: “Is everything OK with me?”. It may seem strange why such problems are still lively among teenagers or 20-year-olds. Therefore it is important to indicate the most common sources of problems in the sexual life of people in the aforementioned age group.

The reasons can be diverse. During the interview the sexologist collects information about the patient’s state of health, his family and partner relationships, lifestyle, substances or diet, as well as sex education or messages he gets from the family and peers to find the source of the patient’s difficulties and suggest the best therapeutic treatment.

Read more: Sexologist Warsaw



Role of sexual education

It often turns out that upbringing has a huge impact on the quality of sex life and the decision to start it. Many patients say they don’t talk about sex in their homes. They often did not receive direct messages from their parents regarding this sphere of life. They are often unable to name intimate body parts and the activities they undertake. Messages given outright are often not positive. Anxiety often arises in the inexperienced young people who are still too much in the sphere of sex. From the messages of older people they can conclude that sex is something bad, indecent, immoral, that enjoying pleasure in an intimate relationship with another person is not good, and not suited especially to women for whom it is only a “marriage obligation”, while men they need sex like air and always expect it.

There is a lack of reliable sex education both in the family and at school where there should be specialists  who transfer knowledge in accordance with WHO guidelines based on scientific evidence and not through the prism of their own views and experience.

On the other hand it’s not true that young people know nothing about sex and that they completely believe in negative messages. However, they receive messages from peers who often brag about their “achievements” in the sexual sphere, not always truthful. There are also messages from mass media and pornography, to which many children have unlimited access. It can be said that in popular culture sex is present everywhere – from the music they listen to, in which we can find a direct reference to sexual activity of adults, ending with commercials, including advertisement of pizzerias, car workshops, and even funeral services, in which there are half-naked women bent in suggestive poses. And this phenomenon can be called sexualization, which reduces a person to the level of an object, a product whose main value is “usefullness” for sex.

So what image of sexuality does a young person get? “Sex can be a threat” – here there may be anxiety about bringing an object to the role, using it, crossing borders. “Sex is bad” – taking pleasure in the body and intimate relationship with another person can cause guilt. “Sex is unpleasant, it hurts” – the message that girls and young women often receive can cause fear of starting and continuing intercourse. Culture often conveys such a stereotype: “A man everytime and everywhere must feel like and be ready for sex” – if we look at it literally it means that it could be that a man is not a human but a machine that he has no feelings, cannot be tired, can not feel stress and for him relationships are not important. But is this really the case?

These are just a few examples of images that can hurt young people just starting their sex life and distort the perception of this sphere of life.

And they could start them completely differently, if at home they talked openly about the sexual sphere without shame and embarrassment, with a sense of boundaries and respect for the other person. If reliable sex education was to appear in schools. If young people knew that sex can be pleasant for both sides, that for the first time it does not always have to look like in romantic comedies, and sex of ordinary people does not look like a pornographic film. If we talk about the fact that an important aspect of sex is to have feelings for the other person, that you can talk about sex with your partner and it may improve the quality of sex.

But this often happens only during the therapy with the sexologist, who sometimes starts working with the patient from educating him. This education helps in decreasing the level of anxiety and other unpleasant emotions associated with the perception of this sphere of life, in replacing stereotypes with knowledge. The consequence is a positive change in the patient’s intimate life.

Read more: Can you plan your sex life?

Author: Magdalena Ogieniewska-Małecka

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