jessica tholmer
October 16, 2013 10:00 am

More because of my birthday than because I am a super genius, I started college when I was 17 years old. By 17 years old, one might assume that I knew a thing or two about sex, but the older I get, the more I realized that I was extremely inexperienced. Not only was I still a virgin, but my mother never talked to me about anything coming-of-age-ish and the only sexual education I had received was in the fourth grade way before I even started menstruating.

I am admittedly torn between whether or not I believe the public education system should be held responsible for sex ed, but I do think the education I received in the fourth grade was not sufficient. In fact, it had little to do with the act of sex–thank god, because I was nine. When I was that young, girls and boys were separated into two rooms where the girls talked about periods and tampons and toxic shock syndrome and I am assuming the boys talked about how awkward they were going to feel for the rest of their lives, apparently.

And then there was high school. In my freshman year health class, there was a brief but terrifying evaluation of various sexually transmitted diseases that was less informative than it was paranoia instilling. I literally thought that I should just skip ever having sex with anyone so that I didn’t get chlamydia and die, you know, Mean Girls style.

Needless to say, nothing much changed by the time I enrolled at a university. Like aforementioned, I had not had sex yet, though I was definitely not swearing it off at that point. Obviously in college, you do not have to take classes about sex if you are not interested in it, and to be honest, I am not entirely positive that there were many courses surrounding sexual education. I am positive there were clubs and people to talk to, but since I was not sexually active, I did not ever seek them out.

SO when I finally started having sex, I knew little to nothing about my options surrounding safe sex. I had heard “safe sex” as a term about a million times throughout the course of my young adult life, but in my head, that always translated just to condoms. I was in a serious, definitely exclusive relationship and to be perfectly honest, did not want to use condoms because I hate them. I think they are expensive and they can be uncomfortable and though I carry one or two on me at all times, it is not my method of choice.

I went to the doctor to start taking birth control pills and was blessed with an understanding and kind woman who explained to me the many, many different types of pills. We settled on one together and it was what I stuck with until my boyfriend and I broke up.

People give me flack for carrying condoms in my wallet, but let me tell you something, kiddos. It only takes one accidental drunken night of unprotected sex to not care about the implications of condom carrying. Not that it should matter to ANYONE, but I am not promiscuous (in fact, I wish I was most days), nor do I think being protected makes someone anything but intelligent. Situations happen. Expect the unexpected. I am certainly not dating anyone, but I will be damned if I have to spend fifty bucks on the morning after pill ever again.

You know what could have prevented all of my confusion and unintentional recklessness? A little sex ed. Being aware of my birth control options. Feeling not just tolerant, but comfortable and excited about my birth control choices. We are always told that the world is our oyster, don’t you think that includes a great sex life?

Bedsider is one of the resources I wish had always been around. Even as an adult, there are plenty of times the subject of sex and birth control can be pretty awkward. Bedsider is so funny and relatable and entertaining and aimed at my age group (I’m 26exy) that it makes me want to talk about birth control and sex with everyone. (Okay, not everyone.) It is so normal, and Bedsider has always been the best at reminding me of that. Before I was even acquainted with the site, I have to admit that I barely knew my options beyond condoms and the pill. Patches and diaphragms were foreign words in my lexicon, and for all I knew, an IUD was some sort of math formula that I missed in college because I always skipped math class.

Bedsider is the teacher I always needed.

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