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A Curiosity In His Pants

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I’ve been having an interesting exchange with a young fellow in England. His name is Dean and he’s concerned about the way his dick looks. I share this with ya’ll for several reasons. First, it’s always good to have an opportunity to talk about the mysteries of the male member.

Second, it’s SOOO refreshing to discuss a concern other than dick size. —Holy cow guys, give me a freakin’ break with the “how do I make my cock bigger? questions. I’ve written and talked about this so much it’s makin’ me nutty. My definitive response to all such inquiries is here: Much Ado About Very Little!— Or you can search the categories on the left-hand side of this blog. Look for Big-dick Envy. If ever I change my mind about any of this, or discover a product, technique or device that really works, you’ll be the first to know. I promise!

Third, there are a lot of men out there who sport a curiously shaped cock and I want to give them some time and attention. Our friend Dean, here, is one such fellow, but he is surely not alone. I try to get to the bottom of this with him, but I don’t think I was overly successful. You be the judge.

— If there are other men in my audience who are similarly challenged, I’d love to hear from you. Maybe we could get a little discussion going. Write to me! —

Name: Dean
Gender: Male
Age: 18
Location: England
Hey! I am having difficulty with the appearance of my penis. When I watch porn, the guys on it have a different top part to mine. Mine’s rounded, and does not have a ‘slit’ or extra skin. Its just like a bent oval, stuck on a rod. Why?

Hey Dean,

This might be hypospadias, but I can’t be sure. If it is, it’s not particularly uncommon. But I can’t say for sure, because I can’t see, or picture in my mind’s eye, what you are describing. I don’t suppose you have a photo of your dickhead that you could send me, do you? The only way I could say for sure is if I could see what you’re describing for myself.

hypospadias.jpgWhat I can tell you is this. Hypospadias is a condition where a guy’s dick does not fully develop in the womb. As a result, the baby boy is born with a penis for sure, but the urethral opening is not at the tip of his dick. It is often on the underside of his dickhead or even somewhere on the bottom of the cock shaft. Sometimes other malformations are associated with hypospadias too, like a twisted shaft, a hooded foreskin, and/or an otherwise hooked appearance to the guy’s unit.

This condition has levels of severity, from the hardly noticeable to very obvious. Some children are born intersexed, and have ambiguous genitalia, which requires sexual reassignment surgery. But I’ll save that discussion for another time.

Some guys, particularly those with conspicuous hypospadias can develop a complex about their appearance. This in turn, impacts on their self-image and complicates their ability to form lasting sexual/partner/marriage relationships. Severe hypospadias can also interfere with procreation. Other men, perhaps those with less conspicuous or severe hypospadias show little to no concern for the appearance of their dick and live completely normal lives.

Some parents of children with mild hypospadias seek a surgical correction to the problem. I view this as a highly risky means to solve a less relatively innocuous cosmetic problem. There are men who were operated on as a child who now, as adults, resent the interference. Matters are often made worse rather than better. And of course, there’s always the risk of complications, infections and the like. There are, however, more serious cases of hypospadias that demand reconstruction. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on with you, Dean. If your dick issue is causing you anxiety or low self-esteem, help is available. Check out: The Hypospadias and Epispadias Association

Good luck

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture. However, description wise: It is about 5″ long. The rod part looks completely like other men, a tube with a thick ‘vein’ at the back. At the head, there is a bent oval shape slanted on the top of the rod shape. It only i on one side but covers both. it does not bend or anything, and does not have a slit in the middle like the diagrams on the URL’s shown in your previous email.

This is covered in skin (obviously! lol). At the top there is a little circle uncovered in skin. It is from there I wee and release cum. do u think it can be very late puberty?

However, something inside my penis (on my right hand side) occasionally starts to hurt when I wee. If I drink a lot of water (or something with water) for around 2 days, it decreases and then goes within a week. It doesn’t hurt otherwise. What’s happening?

Anyway, if there’s anything I can do please tell me! By the way, if I don’t get the operation done, and I have the disease will anything happen?

Thanks a lot for your help!

Luv Dean

Well, Dean I still can’t make heads or tails out of your written description. Any chance you could just cut to the chase and see a doctor about your concern. He’d be able to advise you much better than I, at this great distance.

I am concerned with your comment that your dick sometimes hurts when you pee. That oughtn’t be happening. You’ll definitely want to have a physician take a look on that account alone.

Finally, if your dick issue is truly hypospadias, it is not a disease. It’s a condition. And like I suggested above, I do not recommend reconstructive surgery except in the most severe cases.

Good luck

Hey! I have found a picture on google. Take a look. Mine looks like the first one. However, if you push the skin upwards, it reveals something that looks like the second. However, mine doesn’t like that. My skin covers my penis head, but there’s a little hole ‘cut out’ of it; from which I piss and release cum. What’s happening? — Dean

circumcised-vs-uncircumcised.jpgOnce again, darlin’, I simply can’t say with any certainty what’s happening with you. I appreciate you sending me this diagram, however. And I applaud you going the distance in searching the internet for something helpful.

Why not just take yourself to a doctor, or a free clinic, or even an STD/STI clinic and have someone tell you about your special dick. Once you get the 411 on this, get back to me ASAP. I’m dying to know what you discover.

That being said, I can tell you that if your cock looks like the first illustration, then it’s safe to say that you’re uncut. What you see when you retract your foreskin is still a mystery. Please, do us both a favor and have your johnson looked at by a professional. Once you have some clarity about what’s goin’ on with you, you’ll be able to share it with me and I can share it with everyone else.

Good luck

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I Have A Pain in My Inbox!

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From the sublime to the ridiculous, my inbox is a catch all. Kinda like the grease trap in your kitchen drain. Wading through the detritus can often be injurious to my health. But wade I must. So onward we go.

Name: anonras
Gender:
Age: 47
Location: Northridge CA
I’ve heard a lot about checking your balls for possible problems — but none ever say what lumps you have naturally. At the low point of my testacies I feel a lump (I would explain it as an area that would feel more or less like a cracked egg, you have that part that is globulous and is string-tethered to the yoke. Is that exactly what’s happening? Should you feel any pain if you squeeze it — especially trying to figure out if it is a lump or not?

repo.jpgHoney, I’m clever as all-get out about lots of things, but the lump on your balls ain’t one of those things. I’m not a medical doctor; I don’t even play one here on the internets. And I can assure you, no reputable doctor anywhere would hazard a guess about what you present without first seeing you in person. That’s just good medicine.

That being said, I applaud you taking note of your balls in an inquisitive sort of way. Good for you! But you should also have at least a rudimentary understanding of your testicular anatomy. So that when you do your self-exam, you can have some sense about what it is you are examining. To this purpose, I offer the diagram to the right. Is there anything in the diagram that looks even remotely like what you are feeling in your ballsack?

Finally, if you have a concern about what you think may be an abnormality, isn’t it high time for you to high tail it to a doctor for a look-see?

Good luck

Name: Dorian
Gender:
Age: 18
Location: NYC
Is there any difference in Penis size between races?

Seriously? You need to get out more, darlin!
black_big_dick1.jpg
You becha there a difference in cock size between the races. While, within each racial group there is a natural diversity of size, from tiny to gargantuan. There’s no getting around the fact that there are more gargantuan johnsons in some racial groups then other. At the risk of perpetuating a stereotype, compare some fine black dick to some sweet Chinese cock.

asian.jpg

Good luck

Name: Kent I B Pinker
Gender:
Age: 32
Location: New Zealand
I am curious about anal bleaching. In part just for the sheer vanity of it, but also as a surprise and kinky turn on for my partner. I have done some research online but I am scared after reading some of the horror stories. Any advice?

Kent I B Pinker? I love it! You get the award for “Most Clever Pseudonym of the Year! Congratulations!

If you’re curious about anal bleaching — and yes, there is such a thing — you have way too much time on your hands. Anal bleaching is just the latest in a string of truly disturbing cosmetic trends sweeping the “More Money Than Brains” crowd. WTF, folks? If your vanity extends to the hue of your rosebud, you’re just too goddamn vain, in my humble opinion!

anusbanner.jpgThis all started in the adult industry, don’t ‘cha know. I guess some folks figured they weren’t quite ready for their close-up. Being part of that industry myself, I know how unforgiving hot lights and hi-def can be. However, I still can’t condone such a dangerous and reckless practice.

You are right to be scared off by the horror stories of bleachings gone bad, Kent. So I suggest, unless your hole is makin’ you money, you forego even contemplating the procedure.

Good luck

Name: William
Gender:
Age: 67
Location: Connecticut
Is there such a thing as a being a homosexual watcher only? Getting an erection but not wanting to perform?

kinsey_scale.jpgAll sexual orientation is on a continuum. See the Kinsey Scale to the right. The dean of American sex research, Alfred Kinsey, his associate, Wardell Pomeroy, and others developed this scale as a way of classifying a person’s sexuality in terms of both behavior and fantasy. These pioneering sexologists also found that an individual may be reassigned a position on this scale, at different periods in his/her life. It’s conceivable that one could go from 0 to 6 in a lifetime, or just a summer on Fire Island. This seven-point scale comes close to showing the many gradations that actually exist in human sexual expression.

To your specific question, William… Yes, some one could be a Kinsey “6” in terms of his fantasy and desire, but be a Kinsey “0” in terms of behaviors.

We’re amazing creatures, huh?

Good Luck

Name: michelle
Gender:
Age: 22
Location: canada
tips to help when the man your sleeping with has a small penis

Tips? …no pun intended, I hope.

doggiestyle.jpgOk, here goes — Tip #1, grin and bear it. Tip #2, find a guy with more pork. Tip #3, get a dildo. Tip #4, find a sexual position, like doggie style, that will make the most of every little bit of pecker the poor guy’s got. Tip #5, remember it ain’t always da meat, but it is always da motion.

Good luck

Name: Drew
Gender:
Age: 43
Location: Philadelphia
I am looking forward to my first man-on-man sex for the first time with a hookup in the near future. Question: What type of “preparation” do I need for my first anal sex? Also, should I use a condom with giving/getting oral sex? Thanks.

You’re in luck, newbee butt-pirate! Dr Dick has written (postings) and spoken (podcasts) extensively about the joys of ass fucking. Check out the CATEGORIES section on the left side of the site. Look for anything with the word “ass” in it. We don’t mince words around here. Or you can simply search for Liberating The B.O.B. Within. That’ll get ya started.

As to your concern about condom-covered dick for blowjobs; I don’t see a pressing reason for such. That’s not to say there’s no reason, just not a pressing one. I am of the mind that we ought to know something about the dick we’re sucking. Does it look healthy? Do you know where it’s been before it was in your mouth? How’s our oral health and hygiene? Will there be an exchange of bodily fluids? If you have questions about any of these things, maybe you need to postpone the cocksucking.

Good luck

Name: william
Gender:
Age: 19
Location: Wisconsin
In cock size, is 4 1/2 to small. Why is it so small and is there a way to fix it.

Jeez, ya mean 4.5” erect? Yeah, that’s kinda on the “How Adorable” end of the size spectrum. It’s not quite, “OMG, How Pathetic”, nor is it “Yikes, You’ll Put an Eye Out With That” either.

Why is it so small? Sheesh, beats me. Maybe when the angles were handing out meat, you thought they said “feet” and asked for petite.

Is there a way to fix it? Are you suggesting it doesn’t work? Or are you just a size queen? While you’re trying to figure that out, why not take a look at: Much Ado About Very Little.

Good luck

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What asexuality can teach us about sexual relationships and boundaries

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By , &

There is an expectation that everyone feels sexual attraction and sexual desire and that these feelings begin in adolescence. Assumptions about sex are everywhere – most of time we don’t even notice them. Music videos, films, reality shows, advertising, video games, newspapers and magazines all use sexual content which supports the idea that sexuality, attraction and desire are normal. There is, however, a group of people that are challenging this sexual assumption, who identify as asexual.

Asexuality was once thought of as a problem which left people unable to feel sexual attraction to others. Upon the discovery that some people had little or no interest in sexual behaviour, researchers in the 1940s called this group “asexuals”, and labelled them as “Group X”. There was no more discussion of “Group X”, and asexuals and asexuality were lost to history, while studies of sexuality grew and flourished.

Even today, asexuality still seems to be something of a mystery for many people – despite more people talking about it, and more people identifying as asexual. Asexuality is difficult for a lot of people to understand. And research shows that as a sexual identity, people have more negativity towards asexuals than any other sexual minority.

What is asexuality?

What exactly asexuality is, is very much still being decided – with a lot of debate going on as to whether it is a sexual orientation or a sexual identity. There have also been discussions about whether it is a medical condition or if it should be seen as a problem to be treated.

But it seems that for many, being asexual is less about a traditional understanding of sexual attraction and behaviour, and more about being able to discuss likes and dislikes, as well as expectations and preferences in the early stages of a relationship. In this way, it is a refreshing way of being honest and clear with potential partners – and avoiding any assumptions being made about sex. Maybe because of this approach, a growing number of self-identified asexuals see asexuality as less of a problem, and more of a way of life.

Discussions about sex and sexuality during the early stage of a relationship can make partners and potential partners more respectful towards a person’s choices and decisions. They also can reduce the potential of others making requests that may make someone uncomfortable, or which carry subtle elements of coercion.

Redefining boundaries

In this way, then, with its need for honesty and clarity, asexuality is an insightful way of looking at sexuality, and the ways in which non-asexuals – also known as allosexuals in the asexual community – interact with others on a close and intimate level.

According to one asexual, her friends’ reactions to her “coming out” were underwhelming – mainly because it is an orientation defined by “what is not happening”. But for self-identified asexuals, there is actually a lot happening. They are exploring and articulating what feels right in the context of intimacy. They are considering different aspects of relationships and partnerships. They are talking to others about their experiences. And they are looking for people they can share a similar experience with.

Asexuals are thinking carefully and critically about what it means to be close to someone, and in doing so, many of them have an understanding of non-sexual practices of intimacy. By doing all of this, they are developing a very unique skill set in a culture which is often considered to be over sexualised.

At a time when there is a growing recognition that many teenagers struggle to understand what a healthy romantic relationship actually looks like, asexuality gives us a new way of understanding relationships – both sexual and asexual, romantic and unromantic. And this could have a huge potential to help others understand closeness in relationships where there is an absence of sexual intimacy.

Complete Article HERE!

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Performance Anxiety Doesn’t Mean the End of Your Sex Life… Here’s Why

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Sometimes sex can be stressful, but these steps may help you get your groove back.

by Stephanie Booth

After her first sexual partner belittled her in the bedroom, Steph Auteri began second-guessing herself when it came to sex.

“I felt self-conscious and nervous about being a disappointment to the other person,” the 37-year-old says. “I found myself never feeling sexual, never wanting to be intimate, and never initiating anything.”

Even with different partners, Auteri “went through the motions” of sex, always hoping the act would be over quickly.

“I felt broken,” she admits. “And more than anything else, I felt guilty for being weird about sex. I felt that I wasn’t someone who was worth committing to. Then, I would feel resentful for the fact that I had to feel guilty and would want sex even less. It was a vicious circle.”

“Sex anxiety,” like Auteri experienced, isn’t an official medical diagnosis. It’s a colloquial term used to describe fear or apprehension related to sex. But it is real — and it affects more people than is commonly known.

“In my experience, [the incidence] is relatively high,” says Michael J. Salas, LPC-S, AASECT, a certified sex therapist and relationship expert in Dallas, Texas. “Many sexual dysfunctions are relatively common, and almost all of the sexual dysfunction cases that I’ve worked with have an element of anxiety associated with them.”

How sex anxiety manifests can occur in a wide variety of ways for different people. Women may have a significant drop in libido or interest, have trouble getting aroused or having an orgasm, or experience physical pain during sex. Men can struggle with their performance or their ability to ejaculate.

Some people get so nervous at the idea of having sex that they avoid having it altogether.

However, Ravi Shah, MD, a psychiatrist at ColumbiaDoctors and assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, suggests one of the keys to overcoming sex anxiety is viewing it as a “symptom” instead of a condition.

“You’re getting anxious around sex, but what’s the real diagnosis?” Shah asks.

The link between anxiety and sex

If it seems like just about everyone you know is anxious about something these days — well, that’s because they are. Anxiety disorders are currently the most common mental health issue in the United States, affecting about 40 million adults.

When a person senses a threat (real or imagined), their body instinctively switches into “fight or flight” mode. Should I stay and fight the snake in front of me, or book it to safety?

The chemicals that get released into the body during this process don’t contribute to sexual desire. Rather, they put a damper on it, so a person’s attention can be focused on the immediate threat.

“In general, people who experience anxiety disorders in the rest of their lives are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction, too,” says Nicole Prause, PhD, a sexual psychophysiologist and licensed psychologist in Los Angeles.

Additionally, trauma — such as sexual abuse or sexual assault — can trigger apprehension about sex. So can chronic pain, a change in hormones (like right after giving birth or when going through menopause), and even a lack of quality sex education.

“Abstinence-only education tends to create a stigma and shame around sex that can continue into adolescence and adulthood,” says Salas. “Sex education that focuses only on pregnancy ignores the importance of sexual stimulation and pleasure. This can leave people looking to porn for their sex education… [which] can increase myths of sexual performance and increase anxiety.”

“Some people may have anxiety around sex because they have unrealistic expectations about what healthy sex is,” agrees Shah. “Across both men and women, that has to do with low self-esteem, what sex is like in porn and movies versus in real life, and how much sex they feel they ‘should’ be having.”

“People wrongly believe everyone else is having sex all the time and it’s great and no one else has problems except them,” he adds.

How to alleviate sex anxiety

There are plenty of benefits to maintaining a healthy sex life. Sex improves your bond with your partner, gives your self-esteem a boost, and can lower your blood pressure and strengthen your immune system.

The “feel good” hormones released during sex can even help combat feelings of stress and anxiety.

So how do you get past your current anxiety about sex to reap those benefits?

Talk to your doctor

First, rule out any physical problems.

“Many physiological problems can increase sexual dysfunction, which can then increase sex anxiety,” Salas says. These include chronic health issues like arthritis, cancer, and diabetes. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can also do a number on your libido.

Explore intimacy in different ways

“Sensate focus” exercises, which involve touching your partner and being touched for your own pleasure, are meant to help you reconnect with both your sensual and sexual feelings.

“Initially, no genital touching is allowed,” explains Prause. “More touching is gradually added back in as exercises progress, which are often done with a therapist between home sessions. These are done to help identify sources and times of anxiety and work through what those might mean.”

Since anxiety “most often is about something failing around the moments of penetration,” says Prause, you could also choose to avoid that specific act until your confidence builds back. That way, you can learn how to enjoy other pleasurable sexual activities that still provide intimacy, but without the pressure.

Just make sure you talk with your partner if you decide this direction is best for you. As Prause cautions, “There’s no skirting good communication on this one.”

Be mindful

During sex, you may find yourself trying to read your partner’s mind or worrying that you’re not living up to their fantasies. “Mindfulness can help keep you in the present, while managing negative emotions as they arise,” says Salas.

To do that, he urges his clients to view the signals they get from their body as information, rather than judgments. “Listen to your body, rather than try to override it,” he says.

For instance, instead of worrying why you don’t yet have an erection — and panicking that you should — accept that you’re still enjoying what you’re currently doing, like kissing or being touched by your partner.

“Noticing without judgment and acceptance are key aspects of lowering sexual anxiety,” says Salas.

Make sex a regular conversation

“It’s a fantasy that your partner should know what you want,” says Shah. “They don’t know what you want for dinner without you telling them, and the same goes for sexual activity.”

Choose a private moment and suggest, “There’s something I want to talk to you about in regards to sex. Can we talk about that now?” This gentle heads-up will give your partner a moment to mentally prepare. Then approach the heart of the matter: “I love you and want us to have a good sex life. One thing that’s hard for me is [fill-in-the-blank].”

Don’t forget to invite your partner to chime in, too, by asking: “How do you think our sex life is?”

Talking openly about sex may feel awkward at first, but can be a great starting point for working through your anxiety, Shah says.

Don’t discount foreplay

“There are so many ways to get sexual pleasure,” says Shah. “Massages, baths, manual masturbation, just touching each other… Build up a repertoire of good, positive experiences.”

Explore issues of shame

Maybe you’re embarrassed about your appearance, the number of partners you’ve had, a sexually transmitted disease — or perhaps you were raised to believe that your sexuality is wrong.

“When it comes to sex, shame isn’t very far behind,” says Salas. “The problem with shame is that we don’t talk about it. Some of us won’t even own it.” Identify which aspect is causing you to feel ashamed, then consider opening up about it to your partner.

“When people survive sharing the information that they’re most ashamed about, the fears of sharing it lessen,” says Salas. “They realize that they can share this, and still be accepted and loved.”

Seek professional help

If your anxiety isn’t confined to the bedroom, or you’ve tried without success to improve your sex life, seek professional help. “You may need more robust treatment with a therapist or even medication,” says Shah.

Life after sexual anxiety

Steph Auteri didn’t find an instant cure for her sex anxiety. It stuck around for 15 years. Even when she met her current husband, their first sexual encounter was marked by Auteri’s tears and a confession that she had “weirdness” about sex.

An accidental career as a sex columnist helped her slowly start to realize that her anxiety wasn’t so unusual. “People would comment or email me thanking me for being so open and honest about a thing they were also experiencing,” says Auteri, who’s now written a memoir, “A Dirty Word,” about her experience. “They had always thought they were alone. But none of us are alone in this.”

When she and her husband decided to have a baby, Auteri was surprised to find that the more she had sex, the more she desired it. A regular yoga practice also helped her improve a sense of mindfulness, and she started asking her husband for more foreplay and nonsexual intimacy throughout the day.

“I also became more open to intimacy even when I wasn’t necessarily ‘in the mood.’ Although let’s be real,” Auteri adds, “sometimes I’m really not in the mood, and I still honor that.”

And honoring our own feelings is often the first (and biggest) step toward overcoming sex anxiety.

Complete Article HERE!

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Masturbation hacks and consent advice: how YouTubers took over sex education

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With UK schools increasingly falling short, vloggers such as Hannah Witton and Laci Green have stepped up to offer guidance on everything from body confidence to sexual pleasure

By

When Lily was at school, she remembers the boys and girls being separated for a sex education class. The boys were given one booklet; the girls another. “In the boys’ booklet, there was a section on masturbation and there wasn’t in the girls’ booklet,” she says. “A girl put her hand up and said: ‘Why don’t we have that?’ and one of the teachers said: ‘Girls don’t do that, that’s disgusting.’ It shouldn’t be a shameful thing to talk about. It can be a bit awkward and embarrassing, but we should be talking about it.”

Afterwards, Lily, who is now 19 and identifies as bisexual, went online and discovered sex education videos on YouTube, particularly those made by a young woman, Hannah Witton. “Within my friendship group it has really opened up a conversation about things you don’t normally discuss,” she says. “In schools, LGBT sex ed is just not talked about. Sex was never discussed as a pleasurable thing, especially for women.” Magazines such as Cosmopolitan filled some of her knowledge gaps, she says, but most of her sex education has come from Witton.

YouTube sex educators are increasingly popular, and for the young people I speak to, such videos are where almost all their information about sex now comes from. Witton, who is 26 and British, is incredibly popular, with 430,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel and videos racking up millions of views. Why Having Big Boobs Sucks! has received 3.5m views; 10 Masturbation Hacks has had 1.2m. In the US, Laci Green has 1.5 million subscribers and her videos on, among many topics, nudity, vaginas, foreskins and pubic hair reach millions. There are several other hugely successful sex-ed vloggers, such as Shan Boody and Dr Lindsey Doe. In Poland, where sex education was recently removed from schools, young people are turning to vloggers such as Natalia Trybus, while the model Anja Rubik and a women’s rights organisation, Dziewuchy Dziewuchom, have also launched a series of sex education videos on YouTube.

Hannah Witton talks about masturbation on YouTube.

Amy, 16, says these videos are where almost all of her sex education has come from. “I only really started being given proper sex education in year 10 or 11, when I was about to leave school.” It would have been helpful to have had it earlier, she says. She started watching Witton’s videos when she was about 12. “Everyone around me seemed to understand sex stuff and I was completely clueless,” she says. What did she find most helpful? “Quite a lot of it was her masturbation videos. She presents it in a very positive way – female masturbation is a controversial subject when it shouldn’t be. It helped me understand that side of things. If I had questions, I could probably go on her channel and scroll back and see if she’d posted on it. I’m not that sexually active but I feel like I’m more understanding of what [happens]. I feel a bit more confident because I’ve learned about it in a way that isn’t porn. It’s helped me become more sex positive. It helps me feel like I can talk about it with my friends, whereas before it was like: ‘I can’t talk about that even though everyone’s going through it.’” Has it made it easier to talk to her parents, too? “A little bit,” she says.

It is not surprising that young people are turning to the internet for information, says Lisa Hallgarten, policy manager at Brook, the sexual health and education charity. “Partly because they get everything from the internet. But there is also the fact that in schools they’re just not getting what they need. Even in schools where they’re trying to do a good job, young people aren’t getting the information they need, when they need it. Young people are saying: don’t talk to us about contraception when we’re 17, because some of our friends are already pregnant.”

At the moment, personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) – in which sex education is often included – is not a statutory part of the curriculum in the UK, although schools are expected to provide it. Last year, the Department for Education announced that relationships and sex education (RSE) would be compulsory in all secondary schools, and an eight-week consultation on what should be included recently ended; the guidance has not been updated since 2000, during which time children have had to face then-unheard of things such as sexting, cyberbullying and access to online pornography. “What we would like is for RSE to be a mandatory part of PSHE and for PSHE to be a statutory subject and taught as a timetabled lesson,” says Hallgarten.

Some aspects of sex education are compulsory and taught in science classes. However, parents have the right to remove their children from RSE. “Most parents want RSE for their children but we are worried that those who get withdrawn are possibly the most vulnerable and the least likely to be in households where they get that information from their parents,” says Hallgarten. “They may well resort to looking on the internet of their own accord, and in that case more power to the vloggers. I think there are good vloggers and mediocre vloggers. Some of what people see will be misinformation. I think vlogs should be a supplement, not a replacement to classroom teaching.”

As it is, many teachers are not supported well enough to deliver great sex education lessons, she says. “I think there are a lot of teachers who feel awkward about talking about any aspect of RSE and that’s why we are lobbying hard to make it a real subject and provide real training. There are teachers who really love doing it and are really excellent, but lots of teachers don’t want to do it. If they feel awkward talking about it then it’s not really helpful for young people.” As Amy puts it: “Sex education isn’t seen as a positive thing. It’s seen as cringey. [Watching YouTubers] where it’s people who are only a little bit older than us and not like 40-year-old teachers, it might help people understand it better.”

Hallgarten identified particular areas in which conventional RSE is lacking. “Things like talking about sexual pleasure is something that lots of teachers would really shy away from. They are told about unhealthy relationships but they often don’t have a good model for what a healthy sexual relationship would look like. The vast majority of people will have sex at some point in their life and we hope that it will be a nice experience, but we don’t talk about that. That’s one of the things young people go online to try to understand.”

Some teachers have started even using YouTube sex-ed clips in a classroom setting. “We use a lot of the vloggers in our work,” says Eleanor Draeger, senior RSE trainer at the Sex Education Forum. “We go out and train teachers and show them a wide range of different resources they can use in their classrooms, and one of the resources is vlogs. The idea is that the teacher chooses the things they think will work with the students in their class.” Many of the topics might not be appropriate for secondary school age children; some of the most popular sex education videos are on topics such as encouraging stripping, and the use of sex toys and porn.

“One of the ways we might recommend using a vlogger is we show the video on whichever subject you’re teaching and then the teacher can explain anything the students didn’t understand or expand on the topic. If you were only getting your sex education from [videos] you might not get a rounded sex education. Having said that, I think they’re fantastic as an adjunct and I wish that kind of thing had been around when I was younger.”

Witton launched her first sex education video in January 2012 (she had been posting videos on YouTube for some time before that). It was a video on contraception, presented with a friend. “Sex education is pretty crap, at least in the UK,” she said in it, “so I wanted to make a mini series of sex education videos that hopefully you guys will enjoy and learn some stuff.” That “mini series”, as she endearingly described it, presented and filmed without her more recent polish, has turned into dozens of videos, millions of viewers, a book, and a full-time job as a YouTube star. Witton is smiley and chatty and presents her videos from her flat. She has covered sex toys, hormones, masturbation, porn, consent and open relationships (she doesn’t only talk about sex and relationships – in recent weeks she has been talking about undergoing surgery for ulcerative colitis and what it is like to live with a stoma).

“I was very much inspired by Laci Green in the US,” she says, “and I decided I wanted to start making content about that because I noticed that most of my audience were young women. I felt like I wanted to do something. In terms of my personal experience, [sex education] was very much lacking in school. I had more of an open household so I could talk to my parents, in theory. I remember meeting people once I got to sixth form, who had maybe been to a different school from me or had a different upbringing, who didn’t know some stuff I thought was really basic. I met someone who thought it was totally fine to not use a condom and just pull out. I was like, ‘nooo’.”

She is direct and funny. “I genuinely feel no awkwardness at all. It was one of the reasons I felt like it would be a good idea to start making videos like this, because I know some people don’t feel comfortable talking about these things. If I have a platform and I’m OK talking about them, I can use that platform for good.”

The videos that have done particularly well, she says, include those on masturbation, “especially female masturbation, which for some reason is still taboo. A lot of people either don’t want to admit it’s happening or feel too ashamed to talk about it. There is a general shame and stigma around that topic, in terms of actually doing it but also talking about it.”

Her main audience is women aged between 18 and 24, with 25- to 34-year-olds the next biggest group. People have to be 13 to have a YouTube account (or say they’re 13, and there will be many people who watch without an account) but the 13-17 age bracket makes up just 6% of her audience. Witton, who is an ambassador for Brook, is careful about accuracy. Are there sex education vloggers who are spreading misinformation? “I couldn’t [think of any] off the top of my head, but it’s the internet, so yeah.”

Does she feel that for many young people, she’s their main provider of sex education? “That feels like a lot of pressure, but I’m always really clear that I’m not a doctor. I like to think of my videos as a conversation-starter and from there people’s curiosity can lead them to other bits of information if they want to look into it further. I don’t want to ever take a didactic approach of ‘I’m the teacher’. It’s more of a peer-to-peer education thing.”

In the US, Green started making videos at university. Growing up as a Mormon, her only sex education at school was around abstinence. “A lot of the teenagers in my community just didn’t have the information and resources they needed, so I was a bit miffed about that. I didn’t really ever get sex ed in school. It was only in college, which for me was much later – I’d started having relationships, dating, having sexual experiences. I felt it was too late.” Her videos, she says, felt like “a good platform to have a conversation with other people who thought the same way I did and to share information. As I was trying to figure this stuff out, I was getting the information I needed and sharing it online.”

Around 60% of Green’s subscribers are young women. “I think a lot of the problems we struggle with in society fall around misogynistic ideas around women’s bodies and about relationships, and this is what women are supposed to be and this is what men are supposed to be, which feeds into homophobia and transphobia as well.”

She says around two-thirds of the people who contact her have had no sex education at school, or abstinence-based lessons. “Then the other third did have sex ed but didn’t have all their questions answered. I think a lot of people are awkward about sex. A lot of teachers in the US don’t know how to answer these questions, they’re very restricted in what they can say or do and that makes it really hard for them to have an honest relationship with their students.”

Thea, 19, started watching sex education videos by Green and then found Witton’s. “I definitely got most of my sex ed from YouTube videos,” she says. “Which is sad, because some of this stuff should be taught in school to educate young teenagers properly about sex, but also about the gender and sexuality spectrums. My parents weren’t a lot of help either. It’s really awkward to talk to them about that stuff and they’re another generation so they don’t even know most of it.” She says YouTube videos have changed the way she thinks about sex, sexuality (she identifies as “queer”) and herself. “I feel a lot more confident about my body and I feel a lot more comfortable talking about sex. I probably wouldn’t have been able to actually come to terms with my sexuality if it wasn’t for YouTubers talking about theirs so openly. Online, people aren’t as reluctant to talk about sex, their sexuality and their gender any more, and that’s beginning to be the case in the real world as well, which is awesome.”

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