We at tuja wellness like to talk about all aspects of health. We want you to be healthy, the environment to be healthy and your loved ones to be healthy. Yet we’ve only scratched surface on sexual health.
Perhaps this is because we feel that we have to italicize or air quote the word. We “know” a lot about sex, but who are our sources?
Jessica O’Reilly, sexologist, knows that in the age of “too much information” there’s a lot of misinformation. This former high school teacher has taken hundreds of steps beyond sex ed and has a platform to not only make sex enjoyable, but also healthy and informed.
Wipe that blush off your face. Let’s talk sex:
How did you make the change from teacher to sexologist?
I saw the cost of a sex education system that leaves gaps for the students to fill in and that isn’t as relevant as students require it to be. I saw the direct consequences of that: students not knowing where to go for birth control/contraception and not knowing what to do when they contracted an STI. Most importantly, they didn’t know how to engage in and negotiate healthy relationships. So I decided to go back to school and do research in the area of teacher training. I stumbled into the field of sexology. I didn’t even know sexology was a word!
What does a day in the life of a sexologist look like?
Every day is so different! I have a show for Playboy TV so I can be out in LA working on set. I could be at home all alone writing away. I could be out doing book signings. The bulk of my job involves speaking engagements. Every week and every day is so different!
What are some common misunderstandings in the sexual health realm?
People have more information at their fingertips than they have ever had. What we don’t have is the context to interpret that information. The information is out there, but it’s not always accurate. Unmonitored message boards can sometimes do more harm than good. Young people are pretty misinformed about HIV/AIDS. Many feel that there is a full cure or that it isn’t very serious.
Is there anything that remains taboo today?
We are more willing to talk about things than we used to be, but we are still narrow-minded when it comes to sex. We are still irrational. We see things through our very limited lens and when we’re not into something we label it as strange or kinky or unhealthy. A lot of sexual judgment is rooted in sexual stereotypes. We’re still seeing sexist double standards. A lot of challenges that people face in relationships are breaking away from gender stereotypes. The idea of what a man is and what a woman is and how we desire sex differently. In many cases, men and women can be much the same!
Speaking of men and women: how does your husband feel about being married to a sexologist?
We’re both entrepreneurs who support each other in business. I put pressure on myself sometimes when faced with the challenge of knowing the theory and knowing what I should say, but not always being able to apply it when emotions run high. It can be a little complex. We benefit from the fact that I am learning on a daily basis, but sometimes I can’t put it into practice. Sometimes I know what I should do but I suck at it because I’m human. People should know that. Having the information isn’t always enough when you are talking about such an intense and emotional subject. Sometimes you fail and we all struggle.
That’s a relief to hear you say that. It takes the pressure off of the rest of us!
It’s been an interesting journey! This is not at all where I thought I would end up.
All the good things in life seem to be that way. Watch for Jessica at TEDx in Vancouver this October.