Sex education often gets dismissed as a topic of conversation. However, two organizations aim to change this narrative. At a workshop Tuesday night, Ohio University medical students had the opportunity to learn everything from reporting the sexual histories of patients to fun facts about the speed of ejaculation.
The Medical Student Pride Alliance, or MSPA, and Medical Students for Choice, or MSFC, co-hosted a presentation called "Sex in Medicine," to educate students on sex education and inclusive language for different genders and sexualities. The event was free and, while targeted to OU med students, was open to anyone interested.
The room in Heritage Hall was all smiles, as the presentation provided a safe conversation space for students to ask questions and discuss long-stigmatized topics. Students were able to learn new things and snag a few free condoms.
Cheyanne Fincham, a second-year medical student, is president of MSPA and helped deliver the presentation Tuesday evening. Respecting patients' sexual orientations, pronouns and cervical cancer screenings were just some of the topics discussed in depth.
Fincham shared why she believes attending events like this one is important.
"I think it's very important because even just general sex ed, it's kind of still stigmatized to learn about stuff and learn about STIs and how to prevent them and pregnancy and stuff like that," she said. "So even just general sex ed is very important to talk about even with medical students because they still might not know certain stuff. And I mean, I still learn things every day."
Alyson Johnson, a second-year medical student, also helped in presenting the information as president of MSFC. Johnson made sure to keep the learning process engaging and fun even while discussing STIs and giving a tutorial on using external condoms. The event was based on similar occasions during her undergraduate experience at Miami University.
Johnson expressed her gratitude for the bigger turnout and looks forward to covering more topics in the future.
"I think it's important for us as future physicians to have this background in this knowledge of inclusive language, but also knowing the different like methods of barrier methods and birth control options, and then also, knowing ourselves how to like put on a condom properly so we can teach our patients that," she said.
Kaitlyn Cyncynatus, a second-year medical student, was in attendance for the presentation. She said there were a lot of important takeaways and new things she learned.
"Especially (learning) how to put on a condom properly, like you'd be surprised how many people don't know how to do that, or what actually gets screened during your Pap smear," said Cyncynatus. "A lot of people don't know that they don't screen for herpes unless you get a blood test."
She believes Johnson and Fincham were able to cover such a difficult topic in a professional yet engaging way.
Similarly, Stephen Bell, a second-year medical student, believes the topics were very well presented and that "sex talk" should not feel shameful for anyone.
"Sex is a wonderful thing," he said. "We shouldn't shy away from it. We shouldn't be shaming people for it. We shouldn't be afraid to talk about it in frank terms … everyone's allowed to express themselves in whatever sexual manner they desire."
"Sex in Medicine" allowed students to take away several vital pieces of information for both their future medical careers and their everyday lives.
"When you lay the groundwork for medical students here, they go on to be better physicians and take better care of their patients with stuff like LGBT health and sexual education," said Fincham. "It's not just a little event, it really does have a massive effect down the road that even we can't see, but it's there."