The phrase “sex sells” is still true, but it could use a modern update. “Sex heals” is a lot more in tune with the current state of sex education — most adults left teen-hood without much more than porn-fed sex tips and a passing grade in an abstinence-only sex-ed course.
Sexologists have rushed to our rescue from a lifetime of bedroom boredom, arming eager audiences with a mix of science and self-confidence to overcome our poorly informed pasts. Now sex is everywhere, and thankfully in the best form possible: as a tool for growth, healing and self-discovery.
It’s not just about which new sex toy is being developed or how to have a better orgasm. It’s also about modern trends in brain science and psychology, learning about how we relate to each other as passionate human beings.
Sex-ed’s turn from an embarrassing middle-school topic into a wellness trend owes almost entirely to the internet. Most sex educators agree that logging on is the No. 1 way consumers seek out sex education. Some people, especially very young teens, might still look to porn for their sex tips, but most adults have no problem finding the plethora of sex blogs and articles that pop up everyday on mainstream websites like Huff Post, Refinery 29, and CNN.
“I think it depends on each consumer’s internet savvy,” sexologist Dr. Sadie Allison said. “If you don’t mind a good, long browse and a little fact checking, there is a lot of fantastic information online covering just about every sex-related topic.”
It’s almost impossible to browse social media without a newly written piece on sex, kink, or vibrators crossing our paths. Reliable sex education will only become easier to access for future generations, and the topics will span as wide as the human sexual mind.
“It’s not just about which new sex toy is being developed or how to have a better orgasm,” sex and relationship coach Dr. Ava Cadell said. “It’s also about modern trends in brain science and psychology, learning about how we relate to each other as passionate human beings.”
Sexual health knowledge has undertaken a long journey to its modern spotlight, which means something unique to each generation. Just a few decades ago, major publications would have cringed at the thought of releasing multiple articles on sexual pleasure, much less a top 10 list of the best kink accessories.
Millennials encompass this journey, as some have grown up as sex-ed budded and bloomed, while others can hardly remember a time before Cosmo magazine was more like a sex toy catalog. Spanning from the early 20s all the way through the mid-30s, Millennial consumers tell the history of sex-ed during it’s formative years.
“The 20-something set of younger millennials has grown up with sex-ed being more readily available and popular. Reading sex articles and blogs is commonplace,” Allison said. “[People] later in their 30s are old enough to remember when sexuality was extremely taboo and degraded by the media, so they’re more excited with the access of sex-ed content ... that would have been forbidden in their parents’ generation.”
So where does this leave baby boomers? In the best place of all, according to Allison: enjoying their best years as empty-nesters with a lot of alone time and an entire internet’s worth of ways to fill their quiet hours.
“I think the 45-55-plus set might even be the most ecstatic to gain easy access to sex tips and toys because much of this generation was repressed sexually. Now they can comfortably explore their true pleasure potential,” Allison said.
Thankfully for the knowledge-hungry public, sex educators are in no short supply. Many colleges and universities now offer full degree programs, and other academic organizations offer shorter-length courses and certificates. However the future’s sex teachers choose to lean, there are options for full-time students or part-timers that are juggling family and a day job.
“The best advice I can give is to get educated and certified as a sexpert,” Cadell said. “The certification gives you the confidence to talk about a wide range of topics with authority. A solid foundational knowledge base in all areas of sexuality is so important to really offer maximum educational benefit.”
Cadell and several of her fellow sexologists have even started their own schools to get budding sexperts in top shape for the coming flood of students. Cadell’s Loveology University, Dr. Patti Britton’s Sex Coach U, and the Center for Sexual Health and Pleasure’s webinars lay the groundwork for finding your strengths as an educator and building basic and advanced knowledge of the sexual body and brain.
Preaching the gospel of great sex across the entire spectrum of ages and personalities takes a certain empathetic touch. On top of years of physiological and psychological study, an emotional understanding for your audience, whether one-on-one or en-mass, is essential to the core of this sensitive teaching subject.
“People are vulnerable and take risks and share something powerful and intimate about themselves,” says Kira Manser, clinical director of the Center for Sexual Health and Pleasure.
A career as a sex educator is part-doctor, part-psychologist and part-best friend. The people you take under your wing need the scientific aspect of real medical advice to address their physical and mental concerns coupled with the understanding that sex is hugely emotional, often in a way that a traditional MD can’t cure. Sexologists fill a role that many mainstream physicians just aren’t trained to do.
“There are often transformative moments when you can almost feel people shaking off the shameful messages or beliefs they’ve had and start to step into a more empowered and self-affirming state of being,” Manser said. “It’s an honor to be part of their journey.”
Working as a sexual healer also requires an awareness of how your own emotions play into your teachings. Educator Taylor Sparks of Organic Loven understands that sometimes it’s best to refer a client along to someone with a better grasp or connection to certain sexual practices.
“To use a quote from the kink world — ‘don’t yuck on someone else’s yum.’ Your ‘way’ of sexuality may not fit with someone that you are hoping to help or assist,” Sparks said. “It is best to pass them on to someone who has the experience that they seek.”
The sexual wellness realm is picking up where the muddled medical field left off. Most general practitioners are quick to write up a prescription and rush to their next appointment. Sex educators aren’t interested in the corrupt pharmaceutical industry, and it’s rare to find a sexologist who jumped into the field for a huge paycheck. The rewards of working as a sexual specialist are much deeper and more fulfilling, and they last a lifetime — for patients and doctors alike.
“When we change the parts of the self around sexuality, we change the whole person. Healing sexuality heals the whole person,” concludes Dr. Patti Britton. “I find this work to be the most rewarding path I could have taken in my lifetime. There is no other career that is as rich and fulfilling as helping people find their essence and core as a sexual being.”