Sex education in Hong Kong: Things you need to know, but were too afraid to ask

  • It’s an awkward subject, so one expert shares everything you need to know
  • Am I old enough to date? How do I talk to my partner about my needs? And other questions you want answered
Young Wang |

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Am I old enough to date? How do I talk to my partner about my needs? Are my private parts the normal size?

Sex education is not mandatory in Hong Kong schools, and not all schools can find the time for it, given the intense curriculum.

“We find that a lot of students don’t know where to turn for help, and it’s not something they are comfortable discussing with parents, teachers, or school social workers, and that is why we started our platform,” says Julia Sun, co-founder of Sticky Rice Love, an online sex education platform for young locals. (Check out the website for a sex eduation manual designed for Hong Kong students.)

“Sex education is not just about safe sex,” says Sun. “It could be about the anxiety you feel about your body, your sexual orientation, gender awareness.”

Sex, and questions about sex are an inevitable part of growing up, she says, and a good education can boost teens’ confidence and sense of security. A lack of it can be disastrous, ending in unwanted pregnancy or diseases.

Sun says there are certain questions that get asked over and over again on the website, and here are the top five: 

At what age should Hong Kong students start receiving sex education in school?

1. Is my birth control safe?/Am I pregnant?

Lots of people ask if it’s safe to  have unprotected sex during the  what they think is the  “safe period” – five to seven days before and after a girl has had her period. The answer is absolutely not. Sperm can survive for three to five days in a woman’s body.

2. If I think I’m pregnant, are morning after pills, or emergency contraceptive pills (ECP), a good option?

ECPs can help prevent pregnancy if you take them within three days of having unprotected sex. With ECPs, the sooner you take them, the more effective they are. But, you need to take them after having sex, they don’t work if you take them before.
It’s never a good idea to rely on morning after pills, and don’t take them more than twice a year. ECPs are high-dose hormones and come with side-effects such as bad cramps and changes to the menstrual cycle. If you do need to use them, you will need a prescription if you are in Hong Kong, so you need to go to a family doctor or the Family Planning Association.

3. How can I have fun without getting some nasty disease (STD)?

Many people think they can avoid STDs (also called STIs - sexually transmitted infection) by only having oral sex. That’s wrong.

Certain STDs, such as herpes, can be transmitted through oral sex. Also, you can’t tell just by looking at someone whether or not they have a disease because they may not have any symptoms. 

Using a condom and having a trusted, single partner are good ways to minimise the risk of infection. If you think you might already have something, social hygiene clinics provide medical check-ups. You need to get checked out because if you’re right you will need treatment, and don’t worry – all information is kept confidential. But on the safe side, Sun says that if you have on partner, an annual check-up is recommended. And if you have multiple partners, Sun suggests getting a check-up every three months whether or not you think you might have something.

The importance of pronouns 

4. Am I a pervert?

Some people aren’t sure about their sexual orientations or gender identity. Observe and be honest with your feelings, but remember that there is no right or wrong.

Some people are into fantasy and question if that’s normal. A sexual fantasy can come from your imagination or be triggered by something in real life. Having fantasies is normal, but it’s important to know the difference between imagination and reality to know what you can do and what you can’t.

Pop culture also plays an important role in this. Sun says they received more questions on sadism and masochism (S&M) after the release of Fifty Shades of Grey.


5. Is there a normal size for my private parts?

Growing up, it’s normal for boys and girls to have a lot of questions about their bodies.

It’s a common myth that bigger is better, whether it’s for a penis or breasts, but that’s just not true. Everyone has their own shape and size, and there is no “standard”.

Girls shouldn’t worry about changing their body too much, as things like breast enhancement and weight-loss pills have been proven to do more harm than good. 

What does it mean to be transgender?

6. Am I touching myself too much?

Am I addicted? Well, that’s very subjective. Some people think masturbating even once a week is too much, but it really depends on your physical and psychological condition.

It’s only too much when it gets in the way of your normal life or your mentality. If you are really feeling guilty, or if you can’t sit through a class without asking for a “bathroom break”, that’s when you may need help. Caritas Hong Kong has a sexuality zone project to help teenagers struggling with compulsive behaviour.

There are rumours that masturbating will make you go blind, make you dumb, or stop you from growing taller – these are all false, with no scientific basis. Masturbation is a normal act and not harmful to your body.

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