One of my main hypotheses for this project was that the U.K. would have better sexual health education programs and that they would be communicating more openly with young adults. As of right now, I have interviewed six young adults in London which helped me realize how similar their sex education is to the U.S. On the whole, my interviewees have had semi-comprehensive health classes that teach them about sexual health at different ages. During their junior high years, they are taught mostly about the biology of their sexual anatomy, and gain more knowledge about STIs and unwanted pregnancies and how to prevent them as they age in high school.
I did find some very interesting, slightly contradictory information when I spoke to one California graduate student (26), who is studying abroad here and is dating a young U.K. man (25). She was a great insight to sexual health education in both America and the United Kingdom, which is a source I wasn’t expecting to get. Apparently, at the beginning of their relationship, her boyfriend had very limited knowledge on sexual education and she actually had to tell him and his friends about STI testings and other common knowledge things.
The U.K. also does not offer the HPV vaccine for young girls like we do in the U.S. What’s even more perturbing is that U.K. girls do not begin visiting gynecologist until the age of 21 and only visit every three years! In the U.S. we begin at the age of 18 and visit once a year. Finding out that their insurance will not cover simple doctor visits for routine female checkups blew my mind. It really made me realize that the U.K. may be much further behind when it comes to communicating with youths about sexual health.
This regression in communicating real, applicable sexual health information may be why I have found so many more organizations that are trying to tell youths about their changing bodies and the urges that follow suit. I look forward to applying more of my research to the organizations here in London.