Why Doctors Are Bad at Sex Ed

“Sexual health tends to fly under the radar because doctors share the same deep cultural discomfort about sex as their patients, O’Sullivan says. Many Canadians grow up with conflicting messages about sex as ‘this shameful thing’ that’s only legitimate if you’re in reproductive mode, and doctors are no exception, she adds. This taboo has contributed to a narrow focus in medicine on the negative consequences of sex over promoting healthy sex lives. When patients seek help for a problem like vaginal tearing from a lack of arousal, O’Sullivan explains, doctors will often hand them lubricants without asking if they’re having sex they don’t want or whether they were aroused at all.”

Lauren Vogel – The Walrus – December 2018

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Teaching Teens How to Have Good Sex

“Sometime in 2007, Lucia O’Sullivan, a psychology researcher at the University of New Brunswick, had lunch with a friend and colleague from campus. Her friend worked as a doctor at the university health centre, and for the past couple of years, she had noticed a concerning occurrence among young female students: they would come in for a routine gynecological exam saying nothing was wrong, and when the doctor looked, she would find vulvar fissures—small cuts on the women’s vulvas, often caused by lack of lubrication during intercourse. When she asked about these wounds, a number of patients would reveal that sex was often painful or uncomfortable but that they had never considered it a problem.”

Viviane Fairbank – The Walrus – December 2018

The Undoing of Ontario Sex Ed

“Kim Fry was at Mount Sinai Hospital in downtown Toronto for an appointment in 2015 when she first saw it on the news: hundreds of parents protesting Ontario’s incoming sex-ed curriculum on the lawn of Queen’s Park. Then premier Kathleen Wynne had just unveiled the revised document, which newly included discussions around consent and sexual and gender identities. It was the first update to the curriculum since 1998, and many parents wanted it gone.”

Erica Lenti – The Walrus – December 2018

How One Podcaster Got Us Talking about Sex

“When Kaitlin Prest first came to Toronto, she worked in her bathtub. She would climb in amid piles of pillows or piles of friends, spitballing ideas that would eventually become pieces of audio art. Sometimes she wore clothes, and sometimes not, just a girl and a computer monitor and a flip chart and an artful life. Before the bathtub, her office was a bed in New York City. But one day, two summers ago, sitting on the steps of a brownstone in Brooklyn, she got a call from an executive producer at the CBC. The producer wanted to talk about an offer: come home to Canada and use the resources of a major network. It meant a chance for Prest to make the podcast series about love that had been living in her mind for many years.”

Katherine Laidlaw – The Walrus – December 2018

The Big Squeeze

“The Juice Council doesn’t exist in the way you might expect: as an institution disseminating impartial facts and information about juice. Rather, it was created by the lobbying arm of the beverage industry – in a practice known as ‘astroturfing,’ used by lobbyists in all kinds of industries to create the appearance of a grassroots movement and a larger chorus of voices than actually exists. The Juice Council is also just a small piece of a much larger, years-long campaign by the beverage industry to fight Health Canada plans that would end the practice of recommending juice as a straight substitute for whole fruit, and would also require prominent labelling of the sugar content in juice.”

Ann Hui – The Globe and Mail – November 2018

A Journey to the Medical Netherworld

“One day in early December, not so many years ago, my nine-year-old daughter caught sight of herself in the mirror at daycare, and noticed her face was bright red. All the kids had red faces, because they’d just come indoors after playing in the snow. But everyone agreed that hers seemed particularly bright. She felt hot, too, but a thermometer revealed she had no fever. She sat by an open window to cool down, and when I picked her up an hour later, she still felt hot and looked red, but she said it was going away. By the time we’d finished dinner, it was gone.”

Alison Motluk – Hazlitt – March 2016

Reducing the Harm

Christina Frangou – Alberta Views – October 2018