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Doctors urged to advise patients about risks of abstinence-centric sex education


American Academy of Pediatricians’ new report is the clearest denouncement of the failures of not talking about STIs and pregnancy prevention

Across the US only 50% of high school students receive sex education that meets the recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Across the US only 50% of high school students receive sex education that meets the recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


The country’s largest organization of pediatricians entered fraught political territory on Monday, with a call for doctors to use their time with patients to combat the potential health consequences of abstinence-centric sex education.

In a new report, the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) issued its clearest denunciation yet of sex education programs that fail to offer comprehensive information on topics such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy prevention.

“This is the mothership telling pediatricians that talking about sex is part of your charge to keep children and adolescents safe,” said Dr Cora Breuner, a professor and pediatrician at Seattle Children’s research hospital and the report’s lead author.

“These guidelines give pediatricians in communities where people might say, ‘We don’t want you talking to our kids about this stuff,’ permission to say, ‘No, I can talk about this, I should talk about this, I need to talk about this.’”

The report is broadly a call for pediatricians to help fill in the gaps left by the country’s patchwork sex education programs. It urges pediatricians to teach not only contraception and the benefits of delaying sexual activity, but to cover topics such as sexual consent, sexual orientation and gender identity with school-aged children who may not receive any information in the classroom and involve their parents.

But the authors single out abstinence-heavy education, which sometimes excludes information about contraceptives, as a key concern for doctors looking to help adolescent patients avoid sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy. As a result, it is likely to fuel an already contentious debate.

Groups that have advocated for sex education to emphasize abstinence instantly found fault with the new guidelines.

“A health organization like the AAP should not be affirming a behavior that can compromise the health of youth,” said Valerie Huber, the president of Ascend, a group that promotes abstinence-centric sex education and advocates for federal funding. The group was formerly known as the formerly the National Abstinence Education Association.

“They recommend ‘responsible sex’ for young adolescents. Exactly what is responsible sexual activity for adolescents? … The science is clear that teens are healthier when they avoid all sexual activity.”

Moreover, Huber said, programs that “normalize teen sex” are unpopular with many parents.

“Most communities do not support the type of sex education they recommend,” she said.

Still, others embraced the report as bringing the AAP’s recommendations more in line with the reality.

“This is a fantastic move,” said Chitra Panjabi, the president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), a research group that supports comprehensive sex education. “It’s really important that our medical providers are standing up and saying, hey, the youth in our communities are coming to us because they’re not getting the information they need. And so we need to step in.”

The US does not enforce national standards for sex education and schools in many states are not required to teach it. Across the country, SIECUS estimates, only 50% of high school students receive sex education that meets the recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The other half of students receive anything from an incomplete sex education, to education that emphasizes abstinence, to abstinence-only education, with a focus on delaying sex until heterosexual marriage.

In February, Barack Obama proposed a budget for 2017 that eliminated the $10m the department of health and human services spends on abstinence-only programs every year. But funding continues to flow to those programs from other sources. Title V, an abstinence-only program, allocates $75m a year to abstinence-only programs, money that states match by 75%.

In the last quarter-century, programs emphasizing abstinence as the optimal way to avoid pregnancy and STIs have received more than $2bn in funding from the federal government. Comprehensive sex education, by contrast, has no dedicated federal funding stream.

“It’s a political climate where people don’t want to talk about these issues,” said Breuner. “But it makes our job so much harder when we cannot coordinate our efforts with the schools. It takes time away from the other safety issues we need to be discussing. Don’t smoke weed. Don’t text and drive.”

Recently, two major surveys of existing research on sex education concluded that there was no evidence or inconclusive evidence to show that abstinence-centric programs succeeded in delaying sexual activity. One of the surveys found that comprehensive sex education was actually more effective than abstinence education at delaying sexual activity in teens. (Ascend points to select studies which show the opposite.)

A long-term study found that teens receiving abstinence-only programs were less likely to use contraceptives or be screened for STIs, although rates of infections were not elevated.

The studies helped compel the AAP to issue its first major guidance on sex education since 2001.

“It’s important for pediatricians to have the backing to say, ‘Look, I can’t support telling this stuff to children,’” Breuner said. “I have to deal with the aftermath, which is a 15-year-old who’s pregnant, or a 16-year-old who has a sexually transmitted infection he’s going to have for the rest of his life.”

Breuner said a number of her patients have suffered consequences from abstinence-only education. Many of them are pregnant teenagers and girls who, in the absence of accurate information, came to believe in common myths about pregnancy prevention.

“They’ll say, ‘I thought you couldn’t get pregnant when you were having your period,’ or, ‘I thought it took two or three years after you get your period to be able get pregnant.’ It’s heartbreaking, because I know with education, this could have been prevented.”

Complete Article HERE!


Gay Sex Questions, Answered by Davey Wavey’s Doctor: WATCH



There is a lot of misinformation out there about gay sex. In an attempt to separate the myths from the facts, blogger Davey Wavey made an appointment with his physician, Dr. Jay Gladstein, to get to the bottom of things.

Among the things that you’ll find out in this check-up with Dr. Gladstein:

Does having anal sex stretch out your anus? … Can a dick ever be too big? … Is frequent douching bad for your body, and what should you douche with? … Why are some guys physically able to bottom and some aren’t? …. Is it important to tell your doctor you’re gay? … Why can’t gay men give blood? … Does bottoming cause hemorrhoids? … Does bottoming increase risk of prostate cancer? … Is the stigma of having many sexual partners justified? … Can you get STDs from swallowing semen? … If you are undetectable what are the chances of transmitting HIV? … Why is gay sex so fun?



Is there a doctor in the house?


Hey sex fans,

I know I promised you a Q&A podcast for today, but I’m afraid I must disappoint. I’ve been experiencing technical difficulties all weekend long, so this charming exchange between me and a nervous mother will have to satisfy you till I can pull together the next podcast…this coming Wednesday, 12/05/12, I hope.

Name: Nora
Gender: female
Age: 26
Location: Mane
My husband and I are having a little problem with our 5-year-old son. He’s very bright and inquisitive and we encourage that in him. However, we’ve caught him playing doctor with playmates, twice in two months. Once with a 4 year old neighbor girl and most recently, a 6-year-old boy from his school. How do we handle this? We don’t want to stifle his inquisitive nature, nor do we want to send him the message that sex is bad or dirty. We weren’t raised like that and we don’t want to raise our son like that either. At the same time, he can’t continue to do this. If other parents discover this, there could be trouble. What do you think? Thanks.

Ya gotta love the curiosity and innocence of children, but I certainly understand your concern.

Reading your message took me back to one of my earliest memories. I must have been about the same age as your son at the time. A neighborhood boy, who was slightly younger than me, and I were playing in a vacant lot near our homes. We made a little fort in the tall grass. And there, out of the blue, I suggested that he, the neighbor boy, pull down his pants so that I could take his temperature with this little stick I was holding. He was perfectly compliant and, like it was an everyday thing, he bent over and I stuck the twig in his bum. I remember taking careful note of his little peepee in the process. He had one, just like me, which was a totally different configuration than my baby sisters. I had taken note of that when I watched my mother change their diapers. I remember thinking to myself, my god that is so weird. But I digress. The gist of the story is that I was a very inquisitive lad, just like your son. And the opportunity check out the neighbor kid was, just that…an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity.

A couple days later, pretty much out of the blue, my dad took me aside for a little chat. He asked me about my play with the neighbor kid. I wasn’t quite sure what he was referring to. Ya see the “doctor” incident didn’t register with me as particularly significant, or all the memorable. It just was what it was. But it sure did register with a nosy neighbor lady who witnessed the whole thing. Apparently she told my mother, my mother told my father and now he was telling me. You have to remember, this was the mid-1950s, so sexual experimentation at any age was a lot more taboo than it is today, or even when you and your hubby were kids.

To my father’s credit he wasn’t hysterical, but he was very firm. I got the unambiguous message that this sort of behavior was not OK. It’s funny, had no one seen me and the neighborhood kid in our innocent play, the incident wouldn’t have registered with me at all. I probably had the same level of interest in the kid as I would have seeing an interesting bug, or catching a glimpse of a rabbit or raccoon. It filled the moment, and then it was gone.

Like I said, despite my father’s mild manner, I did get the clear message that what I did crossed some line, a line that I didn’t even know existed beforehand. My father’s talk managed to instill a sense of shame where there was none before. And I remember realizing that my behavior wasn’t just wrong, like if I had hit someone, but it bad, like sinful. And even at that age, I understood to some degree what sin was. I had visions of Jesus and his blessed mother up in heaven crying their little hearts out over my indiscretion. So now, along with the shame I began to feel guilt.

Of course, even if my “doctor” play hadn’t been discovered at age 5 there certainly were dozens of subsequent opportunities for me to get the hardball message that sex was dirty and sinful — not just touching but even dwelling on the subject was enough to send one to hell. There simply was no escaping that fifty some years ago. Are things fundamentally different today? Probably not fundamentally! There are, no doubt, more parents these days who, like yourselves, are more enlightened than when I was a kid. But let’s face it; the predominant culture is still very sex-negative.

One of the biggest mistakes parents make when they are faced with the kind of situation you refer to, Nora, is they impose adult motivations onto their kid’s behavior. For the most part, young children don’t have a sense of shame about their bodies, nor do they have a highly developed sense of the personal space of another person. When their curiosity about their body and the bodies of others, both children and adults, turns to touching and exploration, it has no sexual connotation like we grown-ups understand.

Some years ago, I said much the same thing at a church sponsored workshop for parents. A mother in the audience stood up to tell me that I was all wet about this. She said she knew for sure that her pre-adolescent son had a sense of guilt about fondling himself, because when she caught him doing it one day he looked very guilty. Well, duh! But when we discussed the occurrence further, we were able to discover the truth. I asked her, to describe the situation. She said, “I happened to see my son, through the partially open door to his room. It was just after his bath. He was sitting on his bed touching himself impurely.” I had to chuckle at her vocabulary, but I asked her to proceed with her story. She said, “naturally, I threw open the door and said; ‘what in the world are you doing?’” I said, in a somewhat mocking tone; “Yes, naturally!”

I wasn’t hard to imagine the scene she was describing, because she was pretty agitated by just retelling the story. I could visualize the bedroom door flying open, her stomping into the room, hands on her hips, eyes glaring, nostrils flared, her voice pitched high. What she saw in her young son’s face was not shame; it was fright. I told her that she was the cause of the panic in his face. I explained that if she had barged in to his room that way, with her threatening body language and her “what in the world” screech while he was on his knees saying his bedtime prayers, the kid would have had the same look of alarm, which she interpreted as guilt. I also confronted the woman about the issue of privacy. Listen parents, even young children need and deserve their privacy. You don’t want to see embarrassing things? Avoid the temptation to walk in on your kids without knocking first.

The reason I tell you all of this, Nora, is I want you to realize that the way you address your son’s behavior is probably more important than what you actually tell him. If you approach the discussion all worried, or distressed, or alarmed, or agitated; you can be assured that your body language will tell him all he needs to know, even before you speak your first word.

If your son’s behavior doesn’t course correct all by itself, which it probably will, my advice is schedule a little family meeting. The key here is that you’ll want to talk about several things besides the bothersome behavior. You might bring up school, putting away his toys, playing doctor with the neighbors, and helping with some of the household chores. You’ll notice that the more difficult subject is couched between more mundane concerns. This will help keep the sexual issue properly situated…as part of everyday life.

When you ask him about his “doctor” play, and if you do it in a casual sort of way, he will probably tell you all about it as if he were telling you about his other play. My guess is he is not yet made the distinction between types of play. You might ask him why he’s playing this particular game. Maybe even ask him what he discovered, if anything. Once this part is over and you have some information about his motivation, you could add your perspective…the adult perspective. Here’s where you get to explain that some parts of our bodies are private. And now that he’s getting bigger he needs to understand the difference between public and private. You could make the distinction between bad and inappropriate — his play is not bad, just out of place. I’d be willing to guess that he already has a grasp on this concept.

You may not even have to tell him not to do it again. You could tell him that if he thinks he wants to play “doctor” again, he should ask for your permission. In the same way he would have to ask your permission to cross a busy street or stay at a friends house for lunch.

If after the family meeting you think you and your husband didn’t get it precisely right, just let it go. If the behavior continues you’ll have another opportunity to get it right. Here’s a tip, if you guys casually talk about body things, like personal hygiene…particularly if your son is uncut…on a regular basis you’ll have a foundation on which to build more complicated sex related discussions in the future.

Finally, keep all sex related talks firmly grounded in every day life. One good way of doing that is use examples from nature and apply it to human behavior.

Good luck

Hey dr dick! What’s that toll-free podcast voicemail telephone number? Why, it’s: (866) 422-5680. DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!


The Doctor is IN!


Name: Paul
Gender: male
Age: 32
Location: Seattle
I hope this isn’t the first time you’ve gotten this kind of question but I’ve recently discovered that I have a urine fetish. And I guess what I want to know is if among gay men I am in a minority or what? Do you know of other guys out there who share my fetish? Also I’m in a relationship and I don’t think my boyfriend shares my interests so I was wondering if you might have some ideas on how to break the news to him. Thanks a lot.

A urine fetish, huh? Ok! Are you talking about what those in the know call watersports or golden showers, right? I think you’re telling me you like to play with your pee, or the pee of other folks, right?

40.jpgOh my god, this is like a totally popular fetish, and not just common among the gays, don’t cha know. I’m surprised that you haven’t encountered loads of other pee queens before now. Folks of every sexual stripe and persuasion are known to enjoy piss play. There’s even a scientific name for it: urophilia. Doesn’t that sound fun? Honey, guess what? I’m a urophiliac and you can be one too!

Hell, this is such a popular fetish that it has a full subset of associated fetishes. There are clothes wetting, bed-wetting and diaper fetishes, and urinal fetishes. For the BDSM crowd there are humiliation scenes and bladder control scenes just to name a few.

Historically speaking, people have been drinking their own urine as an alternative medicine for as long as…well, as long as there’s been pee to drink. Bathing in urine is also very common in some cultures.

Curiously enough, watersports is not necessarily always a sexual fetish, although it can be sexual in nature. Activities where piss is taken internally (swallowed or received anally or vaginally) can be risky. The pee-ee will no doubt ingest any and all un-metabolized drugs — pharmaceutical as well as recreational — which were consumed by the pee-er. In some societies and in some situations, this is the actual intent — for example intensifying and prolonging the effects of a hallucinogenic drug.

Prospective pee drinkers should be aware that there are a few drugs that pass through the body either partly unchanged or entirely unchanged, like those nasty amphetamines and their derivatives. So it’s all together possible to get really high from drinking a druggie’s piss.

Finally, how do you come out as a pee-queen to your boyfriend? I’m of the mind that the direct approach works best. There’s less room for misunderstandings. You could come right out and ask him for what you want. Darling, meet me in the bathroom. I want to show you something really festive and entertaining. I mean, what homo’s isn’t gonna fall for that?

A less assertive way would be to visit several golden shower oriented websites, they abound on them internets, ya know. Leave the page open for the BF to find. That will stir things up. And unless he’s as dense as a post, he’ll begin to get the message. You could also “accidentally” rent a watersports video. That would, no doubt, open the desired discussion. “Holy cow honey, look what I picked up by mistake. You wanna watch it? Isn’t this hot? Oh my god, I think I just wet my pants. Wanna see?”

Name: Maria
Gender: Female
Age: 24
Location: California
Hi Dr, My question is a little strange. My boyfriend has this weird fetish about cumming on me…not just on me but all over me. On my boobs, on my face, he likes to get it in my hair, on my feet. I’m practically swimming in the stuff. Most of the time I don’t mind it and sometimes it gets me off. But I’m just wondering what’s this all about. Why does he have this desire to cum all over me? Most of the time he wants me on my knees waiting for his gift, tongue sticking out like a dog. Any thoughts why?

Maria, darling, this is absolutely precious! I love it!

Did you ever see the brilliantly funny Mel Brooks movie, High Anxiety?

In the movie Mel Brooks plays Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke, the new administrator of the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, VERY Nervous. He goes to San Francisco for a conference where he is framed for a murder. Mid-way through the movie there’s a scene where Thorndyke is on the lam. He phones his new friend, Victoria Brisbane, (played by the amazing Madeline Kahn) from a phone booth to ask for her help. Victoria is in her hotel room when she answers the phone. Just at that moment, the real killer attacks Dr Thorndyke and has him by the throat. Because of all the heavy breathing and choking sounds on the Thorndyke end, Victoria thinks she getting a prank sex call. She protests but then is drawn into the call. It’s comic genius. Dr Thorndyke’s struggle comes to an end when his attacker is impaled on a shard of glass. His death gasp makes Victoria think her caller just shot his wad. She responds with disgust, “You animal!

That’s where my mind went, Maria when I got your call. The description of your boyfriend’s spooge fetish made me think of Victoria Brisbane and her exclamation, “You Animal.”

p10.jpgYa see, Maria, us boys think all the world is as enamored with our spunk as we are. And so we think we’re doing everyone a big favor by spreading our junk around. We’re particularly fond of getting as much of our joy-juice as possible on our partners and the messier the better. We’ll tell you that we do this because we love you and we just whipped up this tasty little batch of seed just for you. That’s bullshit of course.

What we’re really doing is marking our territory. Did you ever notice how pleased with himself a male dog is when he’s blissfully lifting his leg to pee on everything in site? I’d be willing to bet you’d see a similar shit-eatin’ grin on the BF as you’d see on that dog. Your BF is marking his territory, but he’s marking you with his jizz.

The upside of this is that our little nut concoction is heavily protein laden, so you’ll not find a better skin emolument. Just make sure he doesn’t get any in your eyes. That shit burns! Enjoy!

Name: Jim
Gender: male
Age: 23
Location: Sydney
I’m addicted to porn. I look at porn for hours and hours at a time at work at home on my cell phone whatever. I am noticing that the more porn I look at the more I want and now I’m searching out some real weird shit the weirder the better. I’m afraid this is taking over my life, but I can’t stop. What should I do?

Listen Jim, there’s no such thing as an addiction to porn! PERIOD!

Nowadays people bandy about the term addiction as if it could be applied to any and all obsessive behaviors. I have an addiction to chocolate, I’m addicted to shopping, or I’m a sex addict. NONSENSE!

Let’s be clear about this. An addiction is a very specific condition. It denotes a dual dependency, physical as well as a psychological. A physical dependency occurs when a substance is habitually used to a point where the body becomes reliant on its effects. The substance must be used constantly, because if it is withheld it will trigger symptoms of withdrawal. Psychological dependency occurs when the substance habitually used creates an emotional reliance on its effects. There is no functioning without it. Its absence produces intense cravings, which if not fed will trigger symptoms of withdrawal.

What you report about yourself, Jim, is not an addiction. Your behaviors, however, are a classic example of a severe fixation or obsession. Just because out of control behavior isn’t an addiction, doesn’t mean it’s not serious.

You may say to yourself, “What the fuck, doc, fixation, addiction it all sounds the same to me.” Well, sounding alike and being the same are two very different things. Besides, if one doesn’t properly identify the problem; how will one find the proper intervention? And you, my friend, need an intervention ASAP.

n.jpgYour relentless pursuit of pornography, your obsession with more and more graphic and extreme depictions of sex is clearly interfering with you living a normal life. And at such a tender age, what’s up with that? This has got to stop, pup. You can’t continue to take refuge in fantasy material in lieu of having healthy interpersonal relationships.

I’d also challenge your suggestion that you are enjoying the porn you consume. When consumption of anything — porn, food, whatever — is this unrelenting, there is no enjoyment factor anymore.

If you have the psychological capacity to limit your porn consumption on your own, great — Do it! Be strict with yourself. Deny yourself access to the materials that fuel your fixation. Channel that energy into connecting with other LIVE humans.

If you are unable to monitor your behavior on your own — seek professional help right away. Look to a sex-positive therapist who will assist you in creating boundaries for yourself. Your therapist will help you learn how to reward your successes and not reward your failures. You will, in time, be able to put this obsession behind you. But you must act now. Your humanity hangs in the balance.

Good luck, ya’ll!


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


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


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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