Over the past three years, I’ve realized that I was never prepared for the possibility of having reproductive problems. In school I was taught that if you have sex without protection, you WILL get pregnant and you WILL get an STD. I get the scare tactics, it’s important to scare teenagers out of sex. Of course, TV shows like 16 and Pregnant glorify teenage pregnancy so much, that I’m sure teenagers are now taking detailed notes on how to get pregnant so they can get on TV. Scare tactics aside, there needs to be more information on what to do if your body is not functioning correctly.
I had a period when I was 13 years old. It was my first one, seemed typical (from what I remember, it was 15 years ago) and afterwards, I spent a lot of time awaiting the next. Not because I wanted another, but because I didn’t want to be caught off guard with an accident. I’d heard the horror stories about that. Well, a month went by with nothing. A year went by with nothing… and before I knew it, I was 16 and finally getting my second period. Yes, that’s right, 16 years old. Old enough to drive. I continued to have periods, but only every 4-5 months.
Did anything seem strange to me about this? Sure! Of course! My friends went on and on about them every month. They envied me and my 2-3 times a year periods. I guess I was pretty excited about it too. Who actually thinks about the need to have one of those? They are a pain in the uterus! Shouldn’t I have had the notion to get checked out? I guess I should have, but I was never taught to think about that. Every time I told someone, I’d get a “Hey! That must be nice!” So I learned to think of my missing periods as something that was considered a fantastic blessing. Little did I know!
Sexual Education focuses on three things. Anatomy, Sex and STD’s. Did I know where parts were located? Yes. Did I know how sex works? Eh… I had a pretty good idea. Did I know that STD’s were out there, lurking in every penis that passed by? Oh yes. But did I know that not having a standard period every month was a sign of something wrong? No. No I didn’t.
Just from starting this blog, I’ve learned that there are more girls out in the world with infertility problems then I would have ever imagined. We are everywhere, and we are just now learning that things we’ve lived with our whole lives are wrong. Missing periods, cramps that literally feel like they are killing you, excess hair growth in places where hair doesn’t belong on a lady, no sex drive… These are very big things. Huge things, and yet, most of us didn’t even think to get these things checked out. If you are anything like me, you shrugged your shoulders, picked up your tweezers and went to work to hide your embarrassing hair growth. Or you bragged a little about missing periods, or maybe even talked about how you had to miss three days of work because your period was so bad you were hunched over a toilet.
Why don’t they educate on these things? I don’t think it would add to the curriculum too much. “Ladies, if you do not have regular periods, or vomit every month when you have a period, you could have a hormone imbalance or Endometriosis! Go chat with your gynecologist!” How long would that take to say? Only took me a couple seconds to type! Although I am only using two examples, there are many other symptoms that could point to problems, so it may take a day or two on the subject to fully cover it in a classroom situation.
Scare tactics are fine and necessary, but our health is more important than that. If I had known when I was 16 what I know now, I might be pregnant, or at least have most of my symptoms under control. My friend who had to take 3 days off of school every month because she was throwing up every time she had a period, might have been able to have her Endometriosis diagnosed 12 years sooner than she did. Let’s get some EDUCATION into Sexual education. Let’s try and make it about a little more than where the penis goes. Let’s make it about health in all aspects. Let’s get the newest generation of women educated on their bodies, so that if they do have problems they don’t have to wait until they are 26 and ready to have children before they learn the bad news.
You can call me naive and scream that I should have known, but I am not the only one. I am one of many, and as a sex, we should be aware that we have not been told everything we need to know. We’ve all been to gynecologists for years and years and still came away with no answers time after time. We need to be taught to ask the right questions so that we can get started on becoming healthier and happier!
7 thoughts on “Update on Sexual Education, Please!”
I agree 100%!!! I wish there was more of an education on the reproductive system instead of sex = bad…I think now with the internet and more education available I hope that more women are getting the help they need early on
Totally agree. The most I remember from my teen years was getting scared to death about getting pregnant – nothing about health at all!
You are so right. I remember some brief ramblings about 28 day periods, and some complicated business involving a calendar and counting…but I didn’t get it. It wasn’t until I started trying to actually HAVE a baby that I realized that I shouldn’t be expecting my period on the same time of the month, every month (like, if I had it on the 12th of March, it won’t necessarily be coming on the 12th of April).
Ask me to name the parts of the male reproductive system, though? I’ll ace that test!
Ha! I think i’d pass that test too. Awesome.
Yes, yes, and YES to everything you said!
I started my period in the 6th grade. I was 12. And I think (from what I can remember) it was pretty regular up until I was around 15/16. At that point they started becoming more irregular. I would go 2 or 3 months without one and then when I did have one, it would last for at least 2 weeks. Between my junior and senior year I went 6 months without a period. Like you, my friends convinced me how lucky I was to not have one every month. And I wasn’t sexually active yet so I knew there was no chance of getting pregnant (like there ever was!) so I wasn’t concerned about missing periods.
I finally saw a doctor when I was 18. I had started dating my now husband and I was ready to get on the pill…for when ‘it’ happened;) The doc wasn’t too concerned when I told him I had irregular periods. He just stuck me on the pill and said it would straightened me right up. Over the next several years I saw a couple of doctors and nurse practitioners for my yearly exams. At that point it had gotten to where if I wasn’t on the pill, I didn’t have a period. Period. But no worries, here’s this pill, it’ll straighten you out! I was even once told by a NP that, “Well, we’ll worry about that when you’re ready to have babies.” Wow. Thanks.
I wasn’t diagnosed with PCOS until I was 24. My very first visit with Dr. L and he knew almost immediately what my diagnosis was. He had an ultrasound set up later that week to verify the cysts on my ovaries. The man has been a godsend to us from that day on.
Moral of my ridiculously long post? We need more education, period. Starting in the schools and more importantly from the medical professionals we see as well. Had I known it was going to take me over 2 years to get pregnant, I probably would’ve started a lot sooner than I did.
I am with you there. I must have seen about five or six doctors and no one was ever concerned. I got the “here is the miracle pill that will fix everything” too. The first five minutes with the RE and he had the PCOS diagnoses. It’s ridiculous that I had to be 27 before someone could figure out something that now seems so simple.
I’m not sure how to go about getting more attention paid to this, but it has to start sometime, somewhere! The next generation needs to be more prepared and knowledgeable about this. PCOS doesn’t just affect fertility, it’s a problem that you have your entire life and can cause heart disease, diabetes and other equally fun things. Ugh, always makes me so frustrated to think about all the doctors that ignored it!
Thank you for your long comment! It’s always nice to know that you aren’t the only one who had to go through shrug after shrug before having a doctor that actually knew what was going on! I hate that anyone else has to go through this though. So frustrating!