Has Netflix's Sex Education had a positive impact on people taking control of their intimate health?

Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn and Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley in season three of Netflix series Sex Education 

Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn and Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley in season three of Netflix series Sex Education - Credit: Netflix

Searches for sexual health services in Stevenage have surged over the past week, according to the latest data.

Google searches for 'Stevenage sexual health clinic' are up 200 per cent in the last seven days, with that figure on the rise.

The data coincides with the release of the latest season of Netflix's smash comedy-drama Sex Education, which takes a hands-on approach in busting myths around sex and relationships, all while thrusting the subject into the public domain.

Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn and Mimi Keene as Ruby Matthews in season three of Sex Education on Netflix.

Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn and Mimi Keene as Ruby Matthews in season three of Sex Education on Netflix. - Credit: Sam Taylor/Netflix

So it raises the question, is the streaming service's critically-acclaimed series responsible for the drive in people taking a hands-on approach when it comes to their sexual health?

In a pivotal episode, students at Sex Education's Moordale Secondary are subjected to an abstinence-only sex ed class, featuring dated VHS-tape videos preaching outdated stereotypes.


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With unwilling teachers at the helm of these classes, Miss Sands and Mr Hendricks discreetly encourage their students to disregard everything they were 'teaching', and to go to medical professionals for the best advice on how to practise safe sex.

Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley and Aimee Lou Wood as Aimee Gibbs in Episode 6 of Sex Education Season 3. 

Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley and Aimee Lou Wood as Aimee Gibbs in Episode 6 of Sex Education Season 3. - Credit: Sam Taylor/Netflix

Although Hertfordshire County Council, which runs sexual health services across our area, stated that they haven't necessarily witnessed an unexpected influx of enquiries off the back of the latest instalment of Sex Education, a spokesperson stated that any that they actively encourage young people to use their services: "We do want to see you!"

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Walk-in clinics for under 21's are every Tuesday from 4pm to 6.30pm in Stevenage, with other clinics at the same time further afield in Hatfield, Elstree, Watford and Cheshunt.

The spokesperson added: "Due to the COVID precautions we will need to see you on your own, and you may be given an appointment slot and asked to come back later in the same session.

"Results from surveys undertaken with young people living in Hertfordshire show that most of you think it’s OK to wait to have sex.

"However, if you are in a relationship - even if you’re not having sex - it’s still important to know about healthy relationships, contraception, STIs and local services. 

"Sexual Health Hertfordshire offer a range of free and confidential services including pregnancy testing, emergency contraception and testing for STIs. 

"You can give us a call on 0300 008 5522 so we can put you in touch with someone who can have a chat about your sexual health and suggest the best support for you."

As we emerge from the pandemic, figures show that substantially fewer STIs were recorded in 2020 than 2019, owing to multiple lockdowns and limits on personal contact.

Nearly 318,000 STIs were reported nationally in 2020, down a third compared with the 467,096 recorded in 2019.

With this in mind, could our return to normality post-pandemic be our once-in-a-lifetime chance to drive down STIs for good?

Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn and Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley in Episode 5 of Sex Education season three.

Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn and Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley in Episode 5 of Sex Education season three. - Credit: Sam Taylor/Netflix

Netflix announced earlier this week that Sex Education would be renewed for a fourth season.

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