Questions are all from middle school students over the past twenty years. What is astounding is that the same questions continue to be asked each year. Dr. Cydelle Berlin has worked with students from 4th - 12th grade for over 35 years and continues to be available to answer all of your students' questions!
The questions here are actual questions asked by elementary, middle and high school students. Please check out some of the answers and the language used to answer questions.
Elementary School (4th - 5th Graders)
Question: Why do women have babies?
Answer: Women's bodies are equipped to have a baby because they have ovaries, fallopian tubes and a uterus - that are all necessary to reproduce. Pregnancy occurs when a woman's egg (ovum) is fertilized by a sperm and plants itself inside the lining of the uterus, eventually developing into a baby. Men are not able to have babies, but they contribute to the fertilization of the egg.
Question: Why do girls get their periods?
Answer: Because they are going through puberty. Girls/Women are born with ovum (eggs) in their ovaries and these are the female sex cells. The menstrual cycle (periods) happen when the lining of the uterus sheds each month if a woman is not pregnant. Getting a period can start as early as 8-9 years old and continues until a woman goes through menopause (around 50 years old).
Question: What are hormones and how do you get them?
Answer: Hormones are chemicals made in one part of the body that travel through the blood stream to other parts of the body and cause those other organs to develop or behave in a certain way. You could think of hormones as a sort of chemical messenger system. The hormones in the human body are: Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone. Hormones naturally occur in the body, and are responsible for the changes that occur during puberty in your body.
Middle School (6th - 8th Graders)
Question: Is it okay for teenagers to have sex?
Answer: It is entirely up to the person and their partner and they feel ready and are consenting. There is no real 'right' answer. Having sex as a teenager is informed by many things, such as your family values, your religion, your parents' values system, etc. Many young people do wait until they have graduated from high school to engage in sexual intercourse,. Again, there is no 'right' answer and many young people have engaged in other sexual activities other than intercourse.
Question: How come I am getting hair on my private parts?
Answer: Hair on a person's private parts (vulva/vagina or around penis/scrotum) is one of the changes that lets you know that you know you are going through puberty, which is a great thing! Hair around the vulva or penis (or under the arms, face or arms and legs) is the body's way of protecting your skin and private parts.
Question: What is semen?
Answer: Semen is produced in the seminal vesicles. Semen is a sticky, cloudy, and whitish fluid that gives the sperm nourishment to swim. Chemicals in the semen keep the sperm healthy as they travel into the urethra, through it, and out of the tip of the penis. Sperm is the male sex cell that is produced in the testicles.
Question: How come boys tease me about my private parts?
Answer: Teasing often happens because young people think it is embarrassing or shameful to talk about their 'private parts' (vagina, vulva, breasts, penis, scrotum).
Question: *What age should kids be sexually active?
Answer: When you are emotionally and physically ready and you and your partner have discussed it and give consent. This is really a values question that should be discussed with a parent.
* This is the most popular question that continues to be asked every year!
Question: Why do people like to watch porn?
Answer: People sometimes watch porn accidentally - they found it on the internet. People also watch porn because they think they can get answers to their questions about sexuality, which they don't get from their parents or school. However, porn does not represent quality sexuality education and it is there for entertainment and NOT for education.
Question: How do you know if someone has AIDS?
Answer: The only way to know if you have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is to be tested by a doctor. HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus) is the virus that produces antibodies and the doctor would then test for those antibodies. If someone has had unprotected sex with someone who has HIV (HIV +), there are many drugs to take now that can prevent the virus from taking hold. These drugs are PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) or after infection (Post Exposure Prophylaxis).
Question: If you have sex in a hot tub, can you still get pregnant? How does sperm swim?
Answer: You can only get pregnant if you are having unprotected sexual intercourse, this includes in a hot tub. Sperm cannot live in the hot water once they leave the male's body. Sperm can only live at a particular temperature (96.5 celsius) and usually a hot tub is much hotter than that. It is never okay to have unprotected sex anywhere, unless you are using another type of contraception.
Stay tuned for more questions!