To kick-start the conversation, I asked 10 women one question “How has technology improved your knowledge of sexual health, and bettered your intimate relationships?” The respondents will remain anonymous and only can only be identified by their initials and ages.
“Technology has made it easier to find the answers to questions that might be uncomfortable to ask a parent or someone you know. For example, what’s normal during a period when you first get it? Obviously, the internet can be misleading but sometimes it’s given answers to things even people around me haven’t known, with explanations as to what the body does etc. Also, stuff like having YouTubers, blogs and twitter threads has allowed people to share knowledge based on experiences. I’ve learnt new information this way and better-understood things I had been led to believe.
It’s helped me in not having to feel uncomfortable about talking about my health and relationships because most things people will have in common but stigmas make them feel like they can’t talk, and those platforms have helped open conversations.” – BM, 16.
“Coming from an Islamic and Sudanese background these topics are often viewed as taboo and not really spoken about. That being said technology, especially the internet gave me a chance to learn about these topics in depth and help understand my body more. Things such as period tracking apps have also helped me a lot. These apps have not only given me a chance to be better prepared for my periods but also given me a quick and easy way to keep track of them as well.” – SK, 18.
“It’s improved it for me personally as the internet is where I’ve learnt a lot about modern-day feminism. Which preaches the importance of sexual interaction being about pleasure for both parties. Whereas my culture more so puts importance on guys getting what they want from a female. For example in hip-hop and dancehall music etc.
Social media has also opened my eyes to things like gender fluidity. Like all men don’t have to act a certain way to be perceived masculine etc. In that way, it just made me more aware that my relationships can be anything that brings me comfort. There’s no blueprint for happiness essentially.
Lastly, technology in the form of apps has taught me more about the balance of my body e.g. if I’m at a certain stage of my cycle, my mood and body are going to react differently and that’s ok.” DL, 20.
“The period tracking apps we now have are really good and help to explain stages of our cycle. I guess twitter too you can read wild sex stories and become curious to try new things.
Also if you have symptoms you can’t identify, there are web doctors that can save you from having to wait days to get a GP appointment! Finding treatments you can access at home for sexual health/oral health etc.” – NP, 20.
“Now that people have access to the internet if you don’t know or you’re scared to talk to your parents or scared to talk to your friends – a lot of people won’t go on the NHS website. They’ll go on social media, they’ll go on twitter or facebook to search and say “well here’s someone else’s experience” and try to learn from that.
I know I always want to know things and I’d rather ask someone, but I wouldn’t say it has really improved. Maybe within the LGBTQ community, a lot of people will raise awareness about HIV, AIDS and using protection.
I think social media has played its role, but it can put people’s expectations up or down. They might feel like they have to look a certain way to have sex, or you might have to do this and if you’re not doing this right then…
It’s a good but weird question, social media can be good and bad. People go out there looking for information and you won’t always get the right answer because social media is very opinionated. If you can’t relate to someone’s story, you’ll go searching for something else.” – AB, 23.
“Watching porn has made me more experimental. Not the mass produced porn but the amateur kind. Connecting with women who are comfortable with themselves and their bodies has helped me to spend more time finding what I enjoy.” – RK, 23.
“Not sure if it’s really helped, maybe just given a wider source of “possible” info as there is a lot out there and some doing more harm than good I think. Having said that, one does come across useful tips or curiosities every so often that I suppose one can use to improve/explore different avenues. I think it depends on how open-minded the individual would have been in the first place to be able to actually benefit from what you can easily access now thanks to good old technology.” – PM, 37.
“I’d say technology has helped in being exposed to so many honest and open threads/blogs on people’s experiences. People are way more open and honest online” – MM, 24.
“Technology has enabled me to be more aware of my sexual health as well as make me feel liberated in my intimate relationships. Technology enables us to break the stigma of judgement when it regards women seeking more control over their sexual health and their sexual activities. I have downloaded an application called “eve” which enables me to track my menstruation as well as to understand my hormone levels and moods. It has been a fantastic help to understanding my sexual health and being in tune with what my body requires. We have all the information at our fingertips. This is information that parents may be wary to tell their female children or that schools neglect to delve into.” – RC, 20.