Here are some questions I’ve recently been asked:

  1. What exactly happens to your body during an orgasm?
  2. When a woman gets pregnant, is the orgasm that happens during sex what stops the woman from having her period when she’s pregnant?
  3. Why is it that when boys do gay things like gymnastics or ice-skating people call them gay?
  4. If a woman has a small clitoris, does that impact her ability to orgasm?
  5. When a woman jumps up and down, or sits down hard, does that kill an egg in her ovary?
  6. Why do girls get so emotional sometimes?
  7. If girls can kiss and hug other girls, why can’t boys kiss and hug other boys?

Do you know the answers to these questions?  Do your children?  What other questions might be lingering in the backs of their minds?

Here are the answers, in brief:

  1. Muscular spasms.
  2. No.  Her period stops because the uterine lining is supporting the development of the embryo.
  3. Boys and men are often put in relatively rigid gender roles, and when they engage in activities outside of those gender roles, other people can get uncomfortable and this can lead them to be unkind.
  4. No, just like penis size does not impact the quality of the male orgasm.
  5. No.  Women’s bodies are well-designed to keep eggs safe.
  6. Lots of reasons, depending on the girl and the situation she’s in.
  7. Again, society’s rigid concept of male gender roles.  Would a song titled “I kissed a boy and I liked it”  be a huge hit today?  Probably not.

These are real questions from real teenagers and young adults.  Even if your kid does know the difference between an old wives tale used to keep girls and young women from fully expressing themselves physically and biological reality, that does not mean that they are devoid of incorrect assumptions about human sexuality.  For example, most young people are not fully aware that women’s vaginal canals and urethra are completely separate.  This little factoid has the ability to impact their sexual comfort level and sexual functioning, not to mention understanding of their own body.

Finding out where your children have incorrect information and bizarre misunderstandings is tricky, but staying present with open ears and an open heart to conversations about relationships and sexuality will take you some way in that direction.  Also finding non-obtrusive ways to correct your child’s misinformation is highly useful.  Many children and teenagers will simply turn-off as soon as you say something like, “Well, that’s not true.”  Go at it softly: “Are you sure?  I’d like to know more about that – can you look it up and tell me more about it?”  (You’ll want to provide a specific book or website for them to use, so they don’t run across truly unwanted information.)

And the best, most effective way to provide your child with information that will correct their misconceptions is a human sexuality class.  Someone just needs to go through the content with your kid, a couple of times as they age and their concepts and understanding about sex continue to evolve and develop.  It’s somewhat regrettable that this is really necessary, but for children and teenagers who live and grow-up in a culture where the popular conceptions about sex and sexuality are so skewed from fact, it truly is necessary.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. 8. Is there actually such a thing as “penis envy”? My daughter is convinced that she has a penis, and a friend’s daughter is not only convinced that she has a penis, but that her mother has one as well.

  2. Well, Freud was full of crap, that’s for sure. How to talk with your daughter about penises and vulvas and other sexual anatomy really depends on her age and how she is living her experience of having a penis.

    In addition to her age, this is the ultimate question: Does she feel like she’s a boy or does she feel like she’s a girl?

    Because these two different scenarios call for very different interactions.

  3. If Freud was “full of crap”, does that mean he was “anal-retentive”?

    My daughter is 2, so I’m guessing that this whole penis thing is meaningless. But I do find it funny that my friend’s daughter said the same thing.

  4. Ha! Indeed, Bob, indeed.

    Yes, I’m guessing the penis thing is two-year-old learning about body names and how they relate to gender. Children tend to know what gender they are (girl or boy) by the time they’re 18 months, and then over the next 18 months they learn what that means in terms of physical body parts and social stereotypes. By 3 most children have internalized most of societies expectations and stigma about gender.

    In any event, it sounds like it’s time for some body part naming in the bath one night soon. Be sure and show her her clitoris and that her vagina goes up and then name the exterior as her vulva – it will make your conversations about any issues she’s having much clearer. 🙂

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