Can You Wade Through Sex Ed from the 1950s?

Dyann Joyce

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

The 1950s were a wonderful era in the United States, in some ways. Post WWII, many people were concentrating on working and starting families - thus, the Baby Boom. The era also brought some truly cringe-worthy Sex Ed tips. Test your knowledge against 1950s myths and beliefs with our quiz!

What often happens to Timmy and Sally’s faces when they hit puberty?

1950s books related it to chocolate. Unfortunately, many kids end up having to deal with acne when they get near the age of puberty. It generally happens because the production of a hormone called androgen causes the oil glands to become larger and more active, producing more sebum. There’s no need to hide, though - Timmy and Sally are just going through natural changes on the way to becoming adults.

What is a tell-tale sign that Timmy is reaching puberty?

While all of these things may occur when they reach puberty, boys don't have to go to school or watch television, biologically speaking. However, they generally will grow taller and develop a deeper voice.

Besides Timmy getting facial hair, both Timmy and Sally also begin to get hair on their arms, legs, underarms and one more place. Where is it?

Both boys and girls begin to get pubic hair when they reach puberty, due to hormonal changes in both sexes.

Why doesn’t Timmy have a period like Sally does?

Boys don’t have periods and they don't have eggs. They produce sperm constantly, and if it isn’t expelled in ejaculate it is simply reabsorbed by the body. The average healthy male produces sperm at about 1.500 per second. That sounds exhausting.

Timmy’s friend at school told him he learned about masturbation from his sister’s friend. What is masturbation?

Masturbation is the act of sexually stimulating yourself (or someone else) by using your hands. It is often done while watching dirty movies or looking at dirty pictures, even seemingly innocent pictures like lingerie ads. So you can guess what Timmy is doing when he takes the Sears catalog into the bathroom.

What is something that happens during puberty to Sally, but not Timmy, that is outwardly noticeable?

As young girls reach puberty on their way to womanhood, they begin to develop breasts. Some more than others, but don’t worry - guys like them all.

Timmy is starting to notice girls more and is becoming more interested in them than baseball. What is going on with Timmy?

It is most likely that Timmy AND Sally are reaching puberty. Her body is changing and things like breasts are developing. Timmy is noticing because he is changing too.

What audible change will Timmy go through that Sally won’t?

When a boy hits puberty, his voice will change and often get deeper, due to hormonal changes flooding his body. This also results in more body hair and the need for deodorant,

What nighttime visitor might Timmy have that Sally won’t, that in the '50s was considered to be evil or a mental disorder?

During puberty (and sometimes after 20 years of marriage), boys can experience a nocturnal emission. This is when they experience an ejaculation while sleeping.

What is a slang term for nocturnal emissions?

This is nothing to be embarrassed about. Boys typically experience nocturnal emissions, aka wet dreams, during puberty (and sometimes after being married for a long time).

What condition is referred to as “the kissing disease”?

Often taken lightly by teens, mononucleosis can be a serious condition and is generally caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. It is spread through the saliva, so it can be transmitted by kissing, coughing, sneezing, drinking after someone that is infected, using utensils contaminated with the virus or any other contact with the saliva of an infected person. This would include chewing on an ink pen they chewed on, sharing gum, etc. Symptoms can appear as long as six weeks after exposure to the virus. If you think you have mono, seek medical attention promptly.

What is the only way Sally could become pregnant, despite '50s myths?

While holding hands and kissing may lead up to it, you have to have vaginal intercourse in order to become pregnant. Even with condoms, pregnancy may occur. Masturbation and even abstinence are healthy alternatives to sexual intercourse, to guarantee against pregnancy and STDs.

What is an STD?

STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are diseases you can get from having unprotected intercourse with an infected person. It is possible, however, to get an STD even while using protection.

What STD sounds like something you can order at a seafood restaurant?

A crab is a tiny parasite like lice that can be transmitted through sexual contact. You can catch crabs even if using protection. If you contract crabs, you have to use a special shampoo and follow the label instructions carefully. Avoid sexual contact until you have finished treatment and don't share clothing or bedding, to avoid spreading the parasite.

Which of the following is an STD?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease. Symptoms in men who have gonorrhea may include a burning sensation when urinating, a white, yellow or green discharge from the penis; and painful or swollen testicles. Symptoms in women who have gonorrhea are often less severe or even non-existent. It can be mistaken for a bladder infection. Pregnant women with gonorrhea can pass it to the child during birth. It is easily treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated it can cause severe health problems, like sterility or even death in severe cases.

What came first, Timmy or the egg?

Actually, people DO come from eggs. The female produces egg cells inside her ovaries; they travel from the ovaries in the fallopian tubes, where they wait to be fertilized. If fertilization does not occur within the 28-day cycle, eggs are shed during menstruation along with the uterine lining, then the cycle is repeated. If the egg is fertilized, it will move to the uterus where it becomes an embryo, then eventually a baby. So yes, humans come from eggs - the egg comes first.

If Sally eventually stops producing eggs at menopause, when will Timmy naturally stop producing sperm?

While women stop having their menstrual cycle at menopause, men can produce sperm until they die. Women technically don’t produce eggs, but rather they are born with a finite number of eggs in their ovaries.

How many sperm does it take to fertilize an egg?

Although the male ejaculate has millions of sperm cells - there can be anywhere from 40 million to 1.2 billion sperm cells in one ejaculation - it only takes one single sperm cell to fertilize the egg and cause pregnancy. The average male produces about half a TRILLION sperm cells in his lifetime.

Some girls experience enough discomfort prior to their periods that they may become irritable and easily agitated. What is this called?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is something that many girls and women experience in the days leading up to their period. This is generally the result of hormonal imbalances caused by the natural process of menstruation. Some symptoms of PMS are feeling bloated (pressure in the abdomen), headaches, tender breasts, mood swings and even arousal in some. Medications can be taken to help alleviate the symptoms.

How often do girls and women have their periods?

A woman’s menstrual cycle occurs about every 28 days. However, the 28-day mark can vary by a week or so either way, so 28 days is a rather loose estimate. A period is considered irregular if it comes more often than every 21 days, if it lasts longer than 8 days, or if it is frequently late or absent.

What should Sally do to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, if she becomes sexually active?

Dismiss the old myths about preventing pregnancy. While no prevention method is sure-fire, using birth control such as condoms and birth control pills greatly reduces the risk of pregnancy.

What is the purpose of menstruation?

The purpose of menstruation is to expel the eggs that left the ovaries last month and replace them with new eggs. It also expels the uterine lining and refreshes it as well. This prepares the female body for conception.

In the '50s videos, a boy asks if you can have too much sperm. What does his teacher tell him is okay to do?

No, Timmy shouldn’t feel bad. Almost all boys masturbate; some girls do too. It’s a natural part of puberty and self-exploration. But you can’t have “too much” sperm.

What could happen to you if you masturbate, according to the 1950s myths?

You won’t get hairy palms or go insane from masturbation, and you won't go blind. A few STDs can cause blindness in rare cases, but masturbation itself does not. Just relax.

Timmy’s friend told him if he masturbates before having sex, the girl can’t get pregnant. Is this true?

Don't listen to the myths, Timmy! A woman can most definitely still get pregnant, because it only takes one sperm to fertilize the egg and males produce sperm constantly.

Should Timmy and Sally wait until they are married to have sex?

Even though physically Timmy and Sally are ready for sexual activity, that doesn’t mean they should jump right in. This is a moral decision they will have to make for themselves, considering their own and their partner's family values, personal beliefs and religion. With the risk of pregnancy, teenagers should strongly consider the implications of having a child before they are ready.

What does at least one '50s Sex Ed video for girls suggest doing during your period?

In one 1950s video, a teacher advises girls to "pay more attention to your hair and your nails and plan to wear your prettiest dress. In other words, be your most attractive self!"

If you had homosexual desires or tendencies, what was medically recommended in the 1950s as a cure?

Sadly, in the 1950s and well past, ignorance and misunderstanding prevailed. Some of the greatest minds were forced to have chemical castration or be kicked out of the military. Alan Turing is considered the father of computer science, but he ended up committed suicide after chemical castration in the U.K.; his life is chronicled in "The Imitation Game."

Timmy likes to play sports, but his favorite part is the group shower at the end of practice. Is Timmy developing normal sexuality?

While same-sex relationships were frowned upon in the 1950s and considered to be a psychiatric condition that may need chemical castration, today that is no longer the case. Also, it is not uncommon for adolescents to have curiosity about the same sex. Sally may compare her breasts to the other girls' and Timmy may compare his genitals to the other boys', but that doesn’t mean they are homosexuals.

What did a '50s Sex Ed video for girls recommend not doing during her period?

When girls reach puberty they experience menarche, which marks the onset of menstruation - usually around age 12 or 13, but sometimes earlier or later. This will occur about every 28 days for the next 30-plus years, until they reach menopause, when they will stop having their period and will no longer be fertile. In the '50s it was suggested that some dancing might be all right during a girl's period, but not square dancing!

What activities should Sally refrain from when she is having her period, despite '50s propoganda?

Sally can do anything she usually does. Just because she is having her period doesn’t mean she has to stop doing any activities. There is a myth about not swimming, but it’s just that, a myth. She only needs to use the proper products to capture the flow. So the correct answer is none, although some girls may not feel like doing much of anything when they have their period.

When does a girl start to produce eggs?

Believe it or not, a female fetus has all of the eggs the girl/woman will ever produce in her ovaries, while she is still inside her mother’s womb. So a part of you was in your grandmother’s womb when she was pregnant with your mother.

While Timmy produces approximately half a trillion sperm cells in his lifetime, how many eggs does Sally produce?

The female is born with all of the eggs she will ever produce, about two million, about eleven thousand of which die every month before she reaches puberty.

What does the 1917 book, "Woman and Her Sex and Love Life," warn girls to never risk doing while on their period?

The book states, “The womb is congested during the period, is larger and heavier than normal... Automobile riding and railroad and carriage traveling prove injurious in some instances, greatly increasing the flow of blood.”

What gland produces the hormones that cause Timmy’s change during puberty?

The hypothalamus releases hormones to the pituitary gland, which in turn releases a luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) into the bloodstream. The process is slightly more complicated in girls than boys, as more and different hormones are then produced and the ovaries begin to make estradiol.

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