In all my years at school, I have only ever had to attend one session of sex education. It happened when I was either 15 or 16 years old. That was about 20 years ago. But it was quite a memorable experience, and so up to today, I still remember it quite well.
At that time, I was studying in a Catholic school. So one day this Catholic man came to visit our school, and all the boys were told to go to the school hall to listen to him talk about sex. I remember that he began the session by explaining the mechanics of sexual intercourse.
I learned nothing new there. I was already taking Biology for my O-levels. And human reproduction was part of the syllabus. I'd already been repeatedly practising drawing detailed diagrams of reproductive parts like the vas deferens, the vagina, the Fallopian tubes and so on.
But the session was probably educational for some of the other boys (who weren't taking Biology).
I also remembered that at that sex education session, the person ran a slideshow. It was an extremely gory slideshow. He warned us in advance that it would be gory. The slideshow comprised photos of what happens as a result of abortion (and of different types of abortion methods, such as suction, curettage or saline injection).
Gruesome stuff. Here's a typical picture. Here the suction method of abortion has been used. The suction device (which is extremely strong) is applied to the woman's vagina. It basically sucks the foetus out of the womb, tearing the foetus into pieces. This, I didn't learn in the Biology O-level syllabus.
The message was quite simple. If teenage boys do hanky-panky with teenage girls, then the girl could get pregnant. If the girl gets pregnant and goes for an abortion, then, well, you can see what happens to the baby. Therefore the boy is guilty of having caused, or at least of having contributed to, the occurrence of a very terrible, gruesome and sinful event. It would be much more advisable to abstain from sex altogether.
What else did the man cover, in his talk? Contraception. He spent a long time talking about what is known as the "natural birth control method". As a matter of fact, this was the only form of contraception that he spoke about.
The natural birth control method basically means that the woman keeps careful records of her own menstrual cycle. She and her partner then avoid having sex at those times when she is likely to be fertile.
For greater certainty, the woman also regularly checks her own cervical mucus. How does this work? How her mucus looks and feels at different times of the month indicates which part of the ovulation cycle the woman is at. An excerpt from the following website:
That day was the first time that I had heard of natural birth control methods. However, because I was an 'A' student in Biology, I was very unimpressed. I did not think that the strategy of avoiding sex during the times when the woman was supposedly fertile was a very reliable method of birth control.There are three ways in which you can check your cervical mucus:
1. Use your finger or toilet paper to wipe across the opening of vagina and then take a look at the mucus.
2. Wear a panty liner and examine any cervical mucus that may be left on it (this can be hard to detect, though)
3. The best way: reach in and get a sample of your cervical mucus. Examine the consistency and try to stretch the mucus between your fingers. If you can stretch it at least three inches without it breaking, then ovulation is about to occur.
If you do not want to get pregnant, then sex should be avoided from the time you begin to notice the slippery, stretchy mucus until at least two days after it is gone.
After all, women were not necessarily very regular; stress alone could easily cause changes to their menstrual cycle, making it difficult to predict when they were really fertile or not. Furthermore, the lifespan of the man's sperm was also variable. After getting ejaculated into the vaginal environment, the sperm cells normally survive for up to 3 days, but sometimes for as long as seven.
Taking all these factors into consideration, the so-called "natural birth control method" seemed to me to be the equivalent of a rather risky gamble. And that tip about the stretchy cervical mucus between your fingers .... Aaack, gross. Well, it definitely evoked a lot of raucous laughter from the big crowd of schoolboys.
Enough for today. In Part 2, I will continue to discuss my sex education session from those long-ago days. And I will also comment on what might constitute a good, healthy sex-education session, for teenagers today.