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My special interest in sex education doesn’t mean I’m sex obsessed

Updated: Feb 24

By Talya Sher, Sex Ed Matters youth advisor, teacher and former consent and sexual health officer at Loughborough University

“What is your obsession with the vulva?” asked a man at university, seconds after his friend refused to sit with me at a café if I insisted on continuing to hand stitch a vulva. 

Shaming an autistic person for being particularly interested in a topic (or having a ‘special interest’)  is nothing new. In my year of unmasking (no longer attempting to hide my disability), I have purposely decided to stop hiding my love of Sex Education, Sexual Health, and Vulvas, and the joy it brings me.

The beauty of sex education is that it encompasses so many topics and areas including biology, physiology, psychology, sociology, and sprinkle in some history and religion. Sex education brings together so many facets of humanity and learning.

However, to many people my desire to constantly talk about sex education is confused with a desire to talk about my sex life, when this could not be more opposite. Autism means I want to tell you the 52 fun facts I have about the vulva, not my ‘body count’ or favourite position.

I want to dispel the myths you have about STI’s and virginity by telling you about the latest book I read or podcast I listened to. I want to debate pornography, and challenge stereotypes. I want to share what I know, and I want you to challenge me and teach me something new. Frankly, discussing my sex life is much less interesting than the fact it was only in 2023 that a study was done on a human clitoris and its function! [1]

Because sex education is my special interest, I want to talk about it. I also know that it will start a conversation. If there is a lull, I will likely bring up the fact that lead a clitoris plushy workshop at my student union, or that I had a job giving out free condoms at university. From “casually” bringing up sex education in many different scenarios I have learnt 3 key things:

  1. People want to talk about sex

But not the sex they had last night, or the sex they may have tomorrow.  They want to talk about sex without shame, to talk about the sex education they wish they had had, or the sexual experiences they weren’t sure about.

  1. People have questions, and they want answers

The complete lack of effective sex education in the UK and the world means people have questions they have been too scared to seek the answers to. They want to be more informed and thus more empowered. 

  1. People want to have better sex

But not in the way men’s health and teen vogue suggest. They want to experiment and don’t know how to ask their partners, or how to do it safely. They want to have the freedom to masturbate or ask for what they want. They want to challenge the norm that “P in v” is “real sex” and improve communication. 

The true beauty autism brings to this area is that my fascination and logical approach means I view these topics factually and without shame. 

Why would I giggle at the word penis, or say vulva with an awkward grin, when they are simply the biological names for parts of the human body? Why would I lower my voice when talking about periods when it is a natural human process? Why would I think my partner struggling to get an erection has anything to do with me, when research shows it’s likely due to stress, performance anxiety or medication?  Why would I think a conversation about premature ejaculation is shameful when there are logical reasons for its existence? Ultimately, while you try to shame my special interest you continue the cycle of shame around sex. 

When I tell you that the most common symptom of an STI is no symptom [2], I encourage you to get tested. When I tell you about the time I used my engineering degree to 3D print dildo stands for a sex toy stall at my student union, I empower you to prioritise pleasure and buy that first vibrator. When I tell you that 43% of people have not had their sexual debut when they start university [3], I remove the pressure to have sex. When I tell you rape statistics and cite journals around barriers to reporting, I ask you to challenge your own bias and social narratives towards survivors, and question how rape culture has impacted how you act towards people. When I am open and without shame, I enable conversations that people desperately want. 

Sometimes that means I have to identify as the identifier condom fairy’, but it also means I am the person people come to when they have a question about getting tested or how to support their friend who has been assaulted. So yes, maybe I am “sex education obsessed”, but I wouldn’t trade the conversations I’ve had as a result.

Finally, to answer the man who asked, “why are you so obsessed with the vulva?” - which of my 100 facts, 50 podcast episodes or 20 books would you like me to use to answer your question?

If you have any questions about what you’ve read, don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing us at You can also sign up to our newsletter here to stay up to date with our work. Talya will be writing more blogs for us in future months

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