Why Sex Education Can’t Wait: Sex Before Age 13 is More Common Than You Think

Why Sex Education Can’t Wait: Sex Before Age 13 is More Common Than You Think

In the United States, the average age of first sexual intercourse is 17 for men, according to data from the CDC. The number is roughly the same for women, and it has remained pretty constant for the last two decades. Based on these data, some parents might be tempted to think that talking to their kids about sex can wait until they’re fairly grown up and almost ready to leave for college; however, that would be a poor assumption to make. 

It turns out that there is wide individual variability in when adolescents start having sex and a new study suggests that, on average, about 1 in 12 high school boys in the US say they’ve had sex before the age of 13—and, for certain groups of boys, the number is actually more like 1 in 4.

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People Think Sex Is Riskier Than It Really Is

People Think Sex Is Riskier Than It Really Is

There's a scene in the movie Mean Girls in which high school health teacher Coach Carr gives his students a lesson in sex education. It pretty much consists of him saying: "Don't have sex, because you will get pregnant...and die!"

As much as I wish I could say Coach Carr's class bears no resemblance to how we teach kids about sex in the real world, the sad fact of the matter is that the primary message many U.S. educators are sending out about sex is to be afraid. Be very afraid. Unfortunately, it turns out that this approach to sex education is problematic on multiple levels.

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Future Doctors Score a “D” in Sexual Health Knowledge Because Sex Ed Barely Exists in Medical School

Future Doctors Score a “D” in Sexual Health Knowledge Because Sex Ed Barely Exists in Medical School

The state of sex education is poor for American adolescents—but you probably already knew that. However, what you may not have realized is that the state of sex education for US medical students isn’t all that great, either. This is both surprising and sad, given all of the important implications (good and bad) that sex can have for our health. 

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Your Personality Traits Can Predict Your Sexual Behaviors, Attitudes, and Sexual Health

Your Personality Traits Can Predict Your Sexual Behaviors, Attitudes, and Sexual Health

Your sex life is, to some extent, a function of your personality. Sex scientists have accumulated a large body of research revealing linkages between what are known as the "Big Five" personality traits and people’s sexual attitudes, behaviors, and health. These findings were recently summarized in a meta-analysis published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

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Does Peeing After Sex Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?

Does Peeing After Sex Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?

A reader asked the following question:

“Is it true that peeing right after sex can stop you from getting a UTI?” 

Thanks for this great question. Let’s take a look at what the research says. Before we do, let me first mention that it is pretty well established that urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be caused by sexual activity; however, this appears to be something that happens to women more often than men [1].

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Could Antibacterial Mouthwash Help Prevent the Spread of Gonorrhea?

Could Antibacterial Mouthwash Help Prevent the Spread of Gonorrhea?

One sexually transmitted infection (STI) that has public health officials increasingly worried is gonorrhea. Although infection rates have declined dramatically from their peak in the 1970s, research has found that not only is gonorrhea on the rise again, but that this infection has also become more resistant to antibiotic treatments. Essentially, what this means is that we have fewer and fewer drugs available that can successfully clear it from the body. Scientists fear that, eventually, a strain may emerge that we can’t cure. As such, more research into gonorrhea treatment and prevention strategies is urgently needed.

A new set of studies suggests that one tool that could potentially help in the fight against antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea is—wait for it—mouthwash. But not just any mouthwash—we’re talking specifically about antibacterial mouthwashes, such as Listerine.

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Infographic: How STD Rates in the United States are Changing

Infographic: How STD Rates in the United States are Changing

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a massive public health issue in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 110 million infections in the U.S. today. Furthermore, 20 million new infections are estimated to occur each year. All of these infections translate to significant healthcare costs: believe it or not, we spend an estimated $16 billion per year on STD treatment! 

So what's going on with rates of STDs? Have they been increasing or decreasing over the last few years? 

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How Do You Manage A Herpes Infection In A Long-Term Relationship?

How Do You Manage A Herpes Infection In A Long-Term Relationship?

A reader submitted the following question: 

“I have had one sexual partner and contracted herpes from him. Though I haven't had sex in 5-7 years and no recurrence of symptoms, I am scared about it recurring and giving it to a partner who will freak out on me and curse me. I want to get married, but I am never going to be comfortable telling my partner about having this infection. What do you think I can do so that recurrence doesn’t occur and I can enjoy condom free sex with my partner?”

Thank you for sending in this question. Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—in fact, the CDC estimates that about 16% of the U.S. population has it. As a result, you are far from the only one out there who wants to know more about how to manage this infection, especially in the context of a relationship with a partner who doesn’t have it.

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People Think Sex Is Much Riskier Than It Really Is

People Think Sex Is Much Riskier Than It Really Is

There's a scene in the movie Mean Girls in which high school health teacher Coach Carr gives his students a lesson in sex education. It pretty much consists of him saying: "Don't have sex, because you will get pregnant...and die!" As much as I wish I could say Coach Carr's class bears no resemblance to how we teach kids about sex in the real world, the sad truth of the matter is that the primary message many educators are sending out about sex is to be afraid. Be very afraid. 

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How Indiana Politicians Are Ignoring Science And Harming Hoosiers’ Sexual Health

How Indiana Politicians Are Ignoring Science And Harming Hoosiers’ Sexual Health

My home state of Indiana has been in the news a lot lately, and most of the news coverage has portrayed it in a pretty unflattering light. This is due almost entirely to the actions of our elected officials, who appear to be out of touch with the views of everyday Hoosiers and with the scientific community on matters of sexuality and sexual health.  Much has been said and written in recent weeks about passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the concern that its original wording was intended to license discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons. This is a prime example of how the State government’s actions are out of step with the public, who overwhelmingly oppose discrimination against sexual minorities. Our elected officials’ disregard for science has not generated quite the same level of national attention as the RFRA law, but it is nonetheless just as concerning. In this article, I would like to take a look at the disconnect between our State government’s actions and the science, and consider its potential impact on the sexual health of Indiana residents.

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All I Want For Christmas Is Some Safe Sex

So this is Christmas, and what have you done? In all likelihood, you’ve probably had some sex. Research has found that there are seasonal peaks in sexual activity, with one of the biggest spikes occurring right around the Christmas holiday [1]. In a lot of ways, this makes sense. Most people are off work for a couple of days and college students are out of school for a couple of weeks. Without the stress and distraction of deadlines and homework, people have more time and energy to, ahem, get busy. However, it turns out that while people are having lots of holiday sex, it appears that they aren’t having very safe sex, which may result in some unexpected outcomes.
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