When many of us think back to sex education classes in high school, our memories, or at least the ones we don’t block out, are filled with uncomfortable videos, awkward giggles and maybe a condom demonstration.
Other than that, learning about safe sex for many teenagers and young adults has been sort of a learning as you go process. However, many sex educators and OB-GYNs are creating virtual sex-ed classrooms through the app TikTok.
TikTok, which is popular among the Gen Z and millennial generation for dancing and lip-syncing videos, also has also become a place for sexual health educators to share their knowledge with the younger generations. Due to the large amount of teens and adolescents on the app, it serves as the perfect way to supplement the sex-ed curriculum being taught in their schools.
Many of the sex-ed classes being taught in high schools in America, if they are teaching sex-ed at all, are taught with the expectation or assumption that many teens will remain abstinent. When sex is discussed, it is often done in a way that insights fear and all that can go wrong. We know, due to research that this method is largely ineffective and only escalates unwanted teen pregnancies and the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
According to a 2018 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 1,087,277 reported cases of chlamydia among people between the ages of 15 and 24. This number represents 61.8% of all reported chlamydia cases.
Jennifer Lincoln, M.D., a Portland, Oregon OB-GYN, has taken to TikTok to share sexual health facts, mostly centered around women’s health because of the widespread misinformation about women’s sexual health and focusing on sexual education from a standpoint that sex can be pleasurable as well as safe.
Dr. Lincoln currently has 1.6 million followers on TikTok that look to her videos to answer questions like: Can I pregnant the first time I have sex? Why does sex hurt? What products should you not use on your vagina? The comments on her videos suggest that teens are hungry for this information and have gained more from her videos than an entire sex-ed class mandated at their school.
While TikTok has luckily began to balance the level of information, it still highlights the need for improved sex education in America’s schools as well as more conversations between parents and children about how our bodies work.