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Endometriosis Awareness Starts with Better Sex Education

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have great sex education when I was in high school. Sure, I was told that menstruation existed, but while I understood the biological mechanics of it, no one ever told me what it does to a woman’s body. It can cause discomfort and you’ll experience some bleeding, was all I was told. Likewise with sex. They explained the mechanics of sex to me, but never told me it was supposed to be pleasurable. The focus was very much on reproduction rather than pleasure.

From what I hear, things haven’t changed that much. And that’s a shame. Not only because knowing how good and pleasurable sex should feel will empower women to ask for more in the bedroom, although that is important too. But better sex education can help spread awareness of endometriosis.

How will young girls know if their periods are normal?

Because I didn’t know how menstruation was supposed to feel, I was unable to tell whether my intense cramps were normal or not. While I appreciate that each woman has a different experience with their period, there certainly is an acceptable level of discomfort, above which one should ideally seek help. I know it’s not socially acceptable to talk about menstruation in detail, but knowing that bleeding through a maxi pad in an hour isn’t normal would’ve bolstered me to go to the doctor sooner with my issues.

We have to be honest about pain with sex

Likewise on the sex front. We don’t want our children to know how amazing sex can be. Although I don’t know why. They’re going to find out sooner anyhow, so why hide this from them? Wouldn’t it be better to educate them on what arousal can do to you? How it can sweep you up and cloud your judgement? But I digress... Women should be told that sex is supposed to feel good, great even. If we talk openly with our young people about sex, we can also tell them when to seek help. Pain during sex is often an indicator that something is wrong.

Through better sex education, we can teach our young people, not just our young women, about all the different conditions which exist that can make sex painful. If we don’t center - or at least mention - pleasure in sex education, we rob them of the tools to identify that they might be suffering from a treatable, or even curable, condition.

Women deserve better!

So many women suffer needlessly long with endometriosis before getting a diagnosis. Learning about endometriosis (but also vaginismus, to name another condition that can cause pain during sex) during sex education can empower women to go to the doctor sooner, armed with knowledge. Women shouldn’t have to rely on forums, googling our symptoms, and hoping something will come up that can helps us talk to our doctors in a meaningful way.

Endometriosis should be talked about, openly. And what better place to start than with sex education? Don’t just focus on the mechanics, and the warnings about STD. Sure, those are important too, but if we don’t teach women the truth about menstruation and sex, we won’t change the fact that endometriosis is still not a well-known condition.

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