How to get the sex and body info you deserve
In classrooms across the country, facts about sex are being distorted. These apps give you the accurate answers you need about everything.
Newsflash: Despite the reality that one in two teen girls will have sex by the time they finish high school, more and more teens are now in danger of graduating without being told how to use birth control or lower their risk of getting STIs. And while plenty of students get no sex ed at all (only 24 states and Washington, D.C. even require it), more and more are only exposed to "abstinence-focused curricula that serve up shame and heteronormativity—and fail to provide much-needed information about sexual health, healthy relationships, consent and contraception.
The Trump administration is now trying to accelerate this trend by pumping money into abstinence programs that have been scientifically proven not to work. And what you don't know *can* hurt you: Experts say that denying people basic information about a normal part of health and development threatens their basic human rights, by withholding information they need to protect themselves.
The truth is, at home and at school, the standard birds 'n' bees sex talk just isn't cutting it anymore. Times have definitely changed—and teens need answers to all of the topics swirling in their heads, like how to navigate dealing with shifting identities and sexual orientation, managing STI risk and understanding what consent really means.
While you can always look stuff up on Reddit, YouTube and Quora, turning to strangers' advice over the internet isn't the safest idea when you have serious questions about your health.
That's why we've rounded up a bunch of resources you can trust. Whether you're wondering about ways to talk to your crush with confidence, how to use menstrual cups or just curious if masturbation is normal (quick A: yes!), check out these platforms that offer a safe space to get accurate, judgment-free information about your body.
What it is: An online chatbot created especially for teens.
Why it passes our trust test: Since this nonprofit's start over 100 years ago, Planned Parenthood has been advocating for and providing vital reproductive health care and sex education. Whatever you ask its bot, know the answers are backed by leading research (and rest assured that your conversation is kept completely confidential.)
How you can use it: Log onto Roo Planned Parenthood chat, then ask Roo anything or browse topics. The bot is programmed to accurately answer probably every question you've got about your body, sex and basic relationship info.
What it is: Through fun and insightful animated videos and articles, Amaze offers info on all things puberty—so you can figure out *exactly* what's going on in your body.
Why it passes our trust test: Backed by master sexuality educators, the content is super smart—and engaging enough to keep you entertained.
How you can use it: Head to amaze.org and click on one of the many tabs to find what you're looking for, including gender identity, personal safety, sexual orientation and, of course, puberty.
What it is: An app offering easy and quick access to sexual and reproductive health services for teens and young adults.
Why it passes our trust test: The app is backed by nonprofit AccessMatters, a public health organization advocating for destigmatized, equal access to sexual and reproductive health care. Also, whatever you search through the app is kept totally confidential.
How you can use it: Download the app and get answers to your questions on topics like STIs, your body, pregnancy, birth control and LGBTQ+ health. (Bonus: you also can send in specific questions, which will be answered by text or email.) Need to see someone in person or set up a video chat? It Matters also offers lists of professionals near you in whom you can confide.
What it is: A website "for all the thigns you're too afraid to talk about," which allows you to have informed, empowered conversations about sex.
Why it passes our trust test: All of the content on Tabú is verified by certified health professionals like therapists, doctors and educators who are there to help you be your own best advocate.
How you can use it: Visit talktabu.com to browse articles about anything from how to better handle period pain to how to talk about gender identity—because on this site, no topic is too, well, taboo.
What it is: An app for delivering sex ed through storytelling by and for teens.
Why it passes our trust test: Developed by MyHealthEd, Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on transforming teen lives through technoogy, the app is run by a team with PhDs in health and human behavior. And whatever you share with them is completely anonymous.
How you can use it: Download the app and simply search for stories on topics like sexuality, healthy realtionships and puberty. You can even share stories of your own—and find useful, expert-backed tips and links to helpful resources such as books and support groups.
What it is: A website and social media campaign started by the brand Sustain.
Why it passes our trust test: Sustain is committed to women's wellness, access and environmental sustainability, and their new sex ed campaign is no exception—they believe that comprehensive sex education "is a critical educational component for today's youth and generations to come."
How you can use it: Head to sexpectmore.com and use the hashtag #sexpectmore on social media to share what was missing from *your* sex + bod education—and help the team of educators and experts at Sustain create a fresh and comprehensive sex ed curriculum to be released in fall 2020.
Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that a version of this story originally ran in our April/May 2020 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.
We want to hear from you! Send us your weirdest body questions here (seriously, we'll answer anything!) and it just might get featured.