10 Facts of Life for the New Surgeon General

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Among his many tasks, President-elect Obama must select a new Surgeon General. While in many ways it’s a ceremonial post, the SG is supposed to be the country’s medical advocate.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been suggested as the probable choice. In addition to his other credentials, Dr. Gupta was named one of People Magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” just a few years ago.

What a contrast. For eight years the Bush administration has been obsessed with regulating Americans’ sexuality–seeing sexuality as a political issue rather than a health issue. So this seems an excellent time to remind the incoming Surgeon General of a few things about sex.

So here are 10 Facts Of Life. Not opinions, facts.

* Abstinence ‘education’ doesn’t lead to abstinence
It leads to young people promising to be abstinent. And then, according to a dozen different studies, ¾ of those young people have sex before they get married.

* Most women who have abortions are mothers
About 60 percent of American women who get an abortion have already given birth to at least one child. Half of the 1 million U.S. women who have abortions each year are 25 or older; only 17 percent are teens.

* Condoms work—amazingly well
Practically no one who uses condoms conscientiously gets pregnant unless they want to. In fact, even people who use condoms inconsistently get darn good results. Way better results than either “abstinence” or the “rhythm method.”

* Many, many Americans have anal sex
Surveys show that about 25% of Americans have had anal sex more than once. The number of teens who report having anal sex at least once is rising yearly. “Sodomy” was never just for gay men, and it certainly isn’t now.

* Using lubricants is good for your health
Lubricants make all kinds of sex easier, reducing wear-and-tear on those delicate genital, anal, and other tissues. And that promotes health.

* Most Americans masturbate
The Old Testament says nothing about it, and the New says almost nothing. God may or may not disapprove, but every survey ever done shows that a majority of men and women give themselves sexual pleasure.

* Medical students receive virtually no training about sex
According to a 2003 study from the Medical College of Georgia, less than a 1/3 of U.S. medical schools require a course in sexuality. Your doctor probably got his or her degree and license without taking one. Come to think of it, did Dr. Gupta?

* Psychologists and clergy receive virtually no training about sex
To get a license in California, for example, your marriage counselor is required to take only a 10-hour seminar in sexuality. Two-thirds of U.S. seminaries offer no course in sexuality issues for religious professionals.

* Viagra does not create sexual excitement
It helps create erections. And while these often accompany excitement in men, they are not the same. In fact, erections without genuine excitement account for a lot of Americans’ sexual problems, with or without Viagra.

* There is no research that people who watch porn behave any differently than people who don’t
In fact, in the 9 years since the internet brought free pornography into most Americans’ lives, the rates of most social problems—including divorce, sexual assault, suicide, and child molestation—have declined.

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