“Suddenly I realized I really didn’t know what’s going on inside my own body,” the actress told Glamour when describing the impetus for her new online videos.“It was shocking.” (Photo: Getty Images)
Jessica Biel is known for being many things — an actress, wife to Justin Timberlake, and mom.
Now she’s adding a new title to that list: sex educator.
Biel has announced that she’s teaming up with non-profit reproductive healthcare company WomanCare Global to release a series of online sex-ed videos.
The 33-year-old says she got the idea after realizing she didn’t know all that much about conception when she and Timberlake decided to try for a baby two years ago.
“Now what happens?” she recalled thinking, in an interview with Glamour. “I’ve been on the Pill for so long; How hard will it be to get pregnant?”
Biel say she also didn’t know when you should have sex if you’re trying to conceive, as well as if you don’t want to have a baby. “Suddenly I realized I really didn’t know what’s going on inside my own body,” she said. “It was shocking.”
While it sounds surprising, Biel isn’t the only grown woman who still has a lot of questions about her body and reproductive health.
Jason James, MD, a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist and medical director at FemCare OB-GYN in Miami, tells Yahoo Health that he sees it often in his practice.
“A lot of women aren’t very well educated on how the cycle works and what are their most fertile periods,” he says. “That results in misconceptions about conception.”
James says that’s often a result of how sex education is taught in our school systems and at home. “When we talk to kids about safe sex, our primary fear is unintended pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted infections,” he explains. “To avoid sexually transmitted infections, you need to use protection all the time. We don’t want to give our children permission to not use contraception when they’re not at their most fertile.”
Children and teens also get information from their peers, which are often “half-truths,” says James. As a result, we can enter adulthood without a complete picture of how babies are made.
Since most people don’t have a sex education course after middle school (if they ever received one at all) it can become an issue when couples actually want to conceive.
Of course, most people get the basics, but there are common misunderstandings. The most frequent ones James hears are around the proper timing of intercourse to conceive and reproductive anatomy.
Stephen Thung, MD, director of obstetrical service at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Yahoo Health that it’s definitely not unusual for women — and men — to be unsure about timing. “I know I was ignorant to this until my second year of medical school,” he says. “That tells you something about our education system for sure.”
That’s why James often has to take a “cookbook approach” to conception with patients, explaining in detail how things work and when they should happen.
“Most adults feel that they’re supposed to know these things and when they don’t they can be embarrassed and uncomfortable,” he says.
Enter Jessica Biel.
According to the WomanCare Global website, the new videos will cover everything from puberty to contraception, adding “no question is off limits!”
James says the concept is a good one, provided it’s executed properly. “It’s important for women to be familiar with how their cycle and anatomy works,” he says. “The lack of any kind of standardized program is a problem.”
Thung agrees: “If the information is accurate, easily understood, and presented in a way that allows women (and men) to quickly understand these concepts at any convenient time, I am certainly in favor.”
Biel’s videos will launch on Sept. 28 at WomanCareGlobal.org.