Sex Educator Profiles: Megan Andelloux
Good Vibrations interviews Megan Andelloux!
See our collection of Sex Educator Profiles.
What led you to become a sex educator?
Well, I was studying marine biology as a freshman in college and I took an elective in Human Sexuality. On the first day of class, the professor handed out a quiz, we filled it out, and I remember thinking how easy it was. When the professor returned it, he told us that 85% of Americans failed it. I had only gotten one answer wrong. I realized I had a knack for memorizing sexual facts, and I was comfortable talking about sexuality. This was also a way I could challenge what my parents thought women were allowed to talk about (we had very strict gender roles in my house). All in all, a career in sexuality seemed like an awesome thing to do.
Originally, I thought I wanted to be a sexuality therapist because that profession was the only one people mentioned when you said you wanted to work in the field of sexuality, but I hated it. I just kept thinking “I don’t want to fix people’s problems, I want to prevent them,” thus I started to look into other options in the field.
I figured if prevention started early – working with kids, then – there would be fewer problems that could develop later in life. However, after nine years of working in the field with kids who did want to learn, I got burnt out dealing with the adults who didn’t want them to learn. So, I graduated from kids to adults because the adults were trying to protect kids from sex education, and needed some education themselves. I think I’m kind of coming full circle in a way.
What kinds of sex education do you offer?
I offer education primarily to adults and professionals. When working with adults, I teach about anatomy, pleasure, accepting your own body, fear reduction, and not being goal focused about your sexual behaviors and desires. When working with professionals (both medical providers and people who work with youth), I teach how to talk about age-appropriate information regarding pleasure within sexuality. I teach workshops and lectures at places like universities, Good Vibrations, professional institutions, and even small parties sometimes.
How did you start giving sex advice?
Ha- I had so many people coming to see me in college that I started to have “office hours” and I would set up a chair in my dorm room for people to come and ask me questions or voice their concerns. I would address their freak-outs (a lot of freak-outs!) and try to find solutions with them.
Where did you get your education in sexuality?
I went to the University of Rhode Island, where I majored in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Human Sexuality. I developed my skills through working at SIECUS as a library intern, teaching at both Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey and Planned Parenthood of CT as a sexuality educator, and at a feminist sexuality shop in Providence, RI (that sadly no longer exists).
What do you love about giving sex advice?
I love showing people that they can talk about sexuality, and that it is okay – I would even say awesome – to do so.
What is your most common question?
I think it’s a tie between “how can I get a blow job to be over as quickly as possible?” and “How can I have an orgasm the ‘regular’ way?”
What is the most difficult or hard-to-answer question you’ve ever received?
“How do threesomes work?”
I always get stuck with this question because 1) I don’t study threesomes, 2) It’s also such a broad question, and 3) I just don’t understand the question. Short answer is, you communicate: that is how you go about threesomes. Actually, that’s how you go about most things. So often I don’t know what people are asking because to me it’s not a biology-based question, it’s not really psychology-based either — it’s just all about communication. So that’s why I defer that question (or variations of it) to people who do love talking about threesomes and like explaining how that kind of communication can happen. It is important to recognize our strengths and weaknesses within the field. We can’t do it all!
What would be your number one piece of advice for someone interested in a career of sex education?
Find a mentor to help guide you through the process. And if they are mentoring you, help them out too. Sex educators are usually doing 50 projects at the same time, and it’s not usually feasible for them to take on another project. Most of us want to help out aspiring sexuality professionals but are usually unable to because of time. It would be great if they could help us out, too. Collaboration means everyone wins!
What was the most interesting thing you learned in your exploration of sex?
There are a few: that the hyena gives birth through her clitoris, and that the vagina can fuse shut if you don’t use it and if you don’t lubricate as you get older. Oh, and that there are professionals who work with individuals that are in the process of dying, in order to help them remain sexual through the dying process. Basically a bunch of medical fun facts.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about sex?
That just because you start a certain sexual act, that you have to finish that specific act. For example, if you start touching a penis it has to ejaculate before you move on to something else, or that if you say you’re going to have sex, it has to end with somebody going into another person’s orifice. People have been lead to believe that sex is supposed to be linear and serious, but it shouldn’t be that way! Sex doesn’t have a script in which an act has to end for you to change scenery: you can just go from one thing to another (with the precautions and barriers as needed) and from one act to the other, go back, or not, and keep going as you feel comfortable.
What is your best piece of sex advice for women?
Explore fantasizing while you masturbate. It does wonders. 🙂
What projects are you working on now?
Really, the question is what projects am I not working on. There are so many projects in my work. I run the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH), which offers different events and workshops. There I also assist in the educating and oversight of the 10 interns that are currently with us this summer. I’m getting ready for the new school year of teaching so I’m developing new college workshops, which I will take on my Study Sex College Tour, starting for the 4th time in the fall. I’m also developing a new sexuality medical training program for Brown University School of Medicine. I have a few secret projects under my belt right now, but they should slowly start coming out in the next few months to a year–look out for them!
Where can people find out more about you?
At my organization: The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (thecsph.org)
Facebook: Megan Andelloux
Where do you teach?
Sometimes at colleges, sometimes at the CSPH, at medical schools, sex shops, and at conferences. I like to have my fingers in as many pockets of the field as I can.
Where is your favorite place to teach?
Colleges are my favorite place to teach! My favorite presentations are those where the students are excited, rambunctious, and ready to ask questions. Teaching groups like this is fun because presentations are more dynamic when everyone is participating.
Which is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
My favorite project was coming up with the “State of Sex Education in Medical Schools” with the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Foundation. In this project, I examined the historical state of sex education, and then current state of it, which is unfortunately rather lacking, especially because a lot of the sexological training came from the medical programs. But sex education in medical schools was abandoned in the United States, so now we have generations of medical providers who don’t know much about sexuality in general, let alone how to talk about it with patients. We have patients who don’t know where to get accurate information, so by being able to look at this through a historical context, I could help come up with what needs to be changed. After this was published, a medical summit was created at the University of Minnesota that invited 50 individuals from the United States who specialized in medical education and sexuality to spearhead getting sex ed into medical schools again in a standardized way. I was the only person there who didn’t have a PhD or MD and I was invited to the table. It was an honor, and I got to work with the surgeon general, Dr. Jocelyn Elders. Now steps are being taken to get sex education implemented in every medical school in the country. It was a huge win!
What was your most unusual panel or experience?
I would have to say that being on a well known sex educators tv show would have to be the most surreal experience. I arrived at night at a building in a neighborhood I had never visited and traveled up a rickety elevator with a very perky porn star. I walked in, checked in, and found an older woman in a canopied pink bed, wearing matching hat and Yale thong, fellating a cucumber.
Long story short, it was just an all-around uncomfortable evening. I survived it, but it was a bit too much for me, and I don’t think I would go on that show again.
How do you think your practice is different from others out there?
People tell me that my mix of humor, medical accuracy, statistical facts and approachable language is a good mix. I put people at ease, speak very frankly and like talking about things that nobody else talks about. I like showing people that it’s okay to experience different things to explore those experiences, you can (and should) have a sense of humor, and to think of sexuality with an open mind.
My parents and upbringing wasn’t conservative but it was very non-expressive and “proper”. I’m a good girl from Cape Cod who somehow busted out of what I was supposed to be, and became what I am today. I like demonstrating that we all have the capacity to change, to make ourselves happier and healthier, and I do that by talking about sexuality and health like other people talk about doing workouts at the gym, or how to knit. There is nothing “improper” about sexuality.
Where do you teach? If you travel, what is it like?
I teach all over the country! When I travel, it’s usually higher education institutions or sexuality shops—occasionally private parties.
As for travel, my favorite part is listening to people’s stories! I love learning about what is culturally significant in different geographical pockets, because it varies from place to place. It’s great feeling that people trust me when asking questions, telling me about significant experiences in their life, or looking for advice about experiences. Another great part of traveling is getting to develop relationships with other professionals in the field. There are not many of us, so when we travel I get to see people I wouldn’t normally get to see. It gets to be an amazing community!
What is your favorite sex toy or product from Good Vibrations, and why?
I really love the doggie style strap by Sportsheets! It shows how a simple change in body mechanics can change sensations dramatically. And you may think it looks silly, but it’s actually pretty freakin’ amazing.
How has Good Vibrations helped you?
Good Vibrations was the first national store that I started teaching at years ago, and I have since developed many wonderful relationships with the staff who worked there. I’ve also had the privilege of talking with their awesome customers (some of whom stay in contact with me and write letters or occasionally send me thank you letters), which is super adorable. I have those letters in prominent locations in my office.
When did you first hear about Good Vibrations?
When I was a sophomore in college I found a catalogue of theirs, and I just thought “What is this? This is amazing!” So I wrote to them to get a catalogue of my own (remember, pre-internet). Then I went to California and got to see the antique vibrator museum in their store: I thought I was in heaven. I bought a mug, and a sex toy–it was great day.
What made Good Vibrations so special?
I always say that Good Vibrations is like the Pottery Barn of sex toy shops. It has such a clean and friendly feel that I’m pretty sure I will be seeing it in the malls very soon (or hope I do!).
I received my Bachelor of Science degree from URI. From there I went on to intern at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States and then worked for 10 years at Planned Parenthood affiliates as a sexuality educator. Attending conferences, reading medical journals and sexuality studies is all part of the course too.
Learning how to advocate for Sex Workers Rights through Speak Up!
I’m fighting to open an adult sex education center in RI (The CSPH), speaking at colleges and creating a sexuality curriculum for medical students at Boston University’s Medical School.
Where can people find out more about you?