We all remember sitting through sex education classes in high school, staring awkwardly at the floor while some well-meaning teacher (shout out to Mrs Loveday-Sims!) would enthusiastically talk us through the best ways to avoid a teenage pregnancy.
Skip forward 15 or so years, and most of us probably think that we’ve surely got the whole sex thing down by now - but is that really the case? If the rise of sex ed apps are anything to judge by… no. It seems that now more than ever, people are getting fed up with mediocre sex and want to learn how to become better in bed. And there are apps queuing up to help them out.
One of these sex education platforms, called Beducated, was founded five years ago by Mariah Freya and Phil Steinweber. Having been lovers since 2007, they found their sex life was becoming stale, so began a self-development journey. They soon realised that sexual happiness is trainable, so created the website to empower adults worldwide.
It is now the biggest pleasure-based sex ed resource in the world, with 100+ courses covering everything from self-pleasure to kink exploration. At $29.99 (£23.80) for a monthly pass, subscribers can watch explicit, non-pornographic demonstrations. There are also plenty of no-nudity explanatory courses, and also ‘homework’ materials including guided audio lessons, text resources and worksheets.
‘Good sex requires lifelong learning because life, in general, is like a rollercoaster which continuously challenges our sex life,’ says Mariah.
CHEEX began life as an ethical porn website in 2020 - but co-founder Denise Kratzenberg says they quickly realised that their users were also in the market to be educated and set up the Pleasure Academy.
‘It's like having a treasure chest of knowledge, where subscribers can explore tutorials on subjects like squirting, workshops on role-playing, and diverse sexual positions,’ she explains of the £14.90-a-month platform. ‘It provides an opportunity for continuous learning about our bodies, kinks and practices, guided by experts and industry leaders. The Pleasure Academy is our way of saying that education doesn't end when teenage hormones cool down; it's a lifelong journey, and we're here to accompany you every step of the way.’
And it sounds like the platforms are very much needed. In a survey taken in May, sex toy retailer LoveHoney found that 4 in 5 people are currently unsatisfied with things in the bedroom, and just 17 percent of women said they were fulfilled with their sex life.
However, when Beducated asked their subscribers the same question a month later, only eight per cent said they were dissatisfied; and, based on their bi-annual customer surveys, 9 out of 10 users said that Beducated has increased their sexual happiness.
Additionally, Denise says that CHEEX’s 100,000 members have told them that the education side has been a ‘game-changer’ as they ‘explore their curiosities and learn new techniques in a safe and informative space’. A whopping 46 percent of CHEEX’s users consume their educational content (a figure which has doubled since 2022), with non-binary individuals giving it the most clicks. Denise adds that courses such as ‘Vulva Knowledge’ and ‘Blowjob Tutorial’ have demonstrated remarkable traction, as well as the ‘Edging 101’ tutorial, which has secured a spot in their top 10 most popular content pieces.
My interest piqued, I decided to subscribe and see if they really can make a difference.
Now, while I’m not a complete prude, the thought of publicly discussing my sex life essentially makes me want to go into hiding (in fact, when I told my mum about this article - just in case she googled to see what work I’d been up to lately and ended up disowning me - I turned such a violent shade of red that I think she thought I was suffering from some kind of coronary issue).
I even struggle to discuss this kind of topic with friends, preferring to do so behind the safety of my phone screen, lest they also be subjected to my burning face. But when the topic came up in conversation over Friday night happy-hour margaritas, we literally couldn’t stop chatting about it - and it turned out everyone wanted to get in on the action to help me out (god, I love female friendship).
One pal who was especially keen to try out one of these platforms was my very innocent friend Jess* - who up until recently, it turned out, thought that during a 69, you simply planked over the top of your partner (no, we had no idea either).
Handing over my Beducated login, I eagerly awaited her feedback - and true to her word, the next day, Jess was full of beans about the night before with her boyfriend.
‘When I told him I was doing research, he honestly thought I was joking as it sounded too good to be true,’ she said. ‘But he loved it - he said it was the best head of his life, so I’m chuffed!
‘He liked all of the moves, except one. But it’s also quite good that you’re constantly hearing feedback - it makes the communication super open.’
Jess added: ‘He also wants the login for his own research. I’m going to read the other courses when I’m on holiday this week and come back an absolute minx.’
Another pal, Naomi*, has just come out of a long-term relationship and is now casually dating, but also said she’d be up for giving Beducated a try. ‘It feels way too early for this’, she messaged, when presented with the How To Give an Unforgettable Blowjob page at 9:46 on a Wednesday morning.
However, again, Naomi’s feedback was also overwhelmingly positive.
‘I really like it!’ she revealed. ‘I feel like it caters to everyone really - people who are new to sexual encounters as well as those who are more experienced, or who are exploring and wanting to try new things. There are elements that you can take and leave as you want to on each course, and I absolutely love how in-depth the topics are - even if it can seem a bit cringe at times.
‘It’s not as awful as I thought it would be - in fact, it’s quite refreshing just to have everything out there in the open. There’s no shyness or prudish vibes.’
Going above and beyond her brief, I even received a message the next day which said, ‘I just read through the open relationship course and it was so helpful, because I’ve got so many questions about non-monogamy!’
So after roping in my (now extremely sexually fulfilled) mates, it was my turn to take the plunge, and I messaged my friend Alex* to see if he’d be willing to participate in this random experiment… purely for research purposes, obviously. Could this app noticeably improve my performance – and help me enjoy things more?
‘But do I have to be bad in bed to take part?’ he replied. ‘Because that’s not the case, so I can’t help, sorry.’
While yes, Alex is potentially the cockiest fella on the planet, I think this is where a lot of the problem stems from: while they may not be having mind-blowing sex every night of the week, most people probably think, ‘This is good enough’. But why take ‘good’ when you could have ‘even better’?
And Alex isn’t on his own, as men especially are not so keen to try these platforms - with around 70 percent of CHEEX subscribers identifying as female.
Carly Bustin is the founder of Moodment - an app which allows users to choose from 21 moods (including tired, excited and angry), and then curates a main feed with content to suit that emotion, including workouts, yoga, EFT tapping and hypnosis.
One of the feelings to pick from is ‘sensual’, and through the app, Carly also runs daily and monthly challenges - with her seven-day libido challenge being the one with the highest signups so far.
And while she also says that 95 percent of her app subscribers and social media audience are female, their male partners are still paying attention and want to improve sexually.
‘To help them feel less alone with their worries, I often ask people to anonymously share their secrets via my Instagram. But what’s interesting is that a lot of them come from men,’ Carly explains. ‘A lot of guys say things like, 'I don't have a high enough libido,' or, 'I feel like I'm not pleasing my partner sexually'. They also email me to ask questions about making their relationship better in this respect.
‘Although it may be women who are signed in to Moodment, they're reading the content and then sharing that with their male partner - which is wonderful, because they'll never know unless we help them!’
After twisting Alex’s arm, I logged on to the platforms to begin my research - and I can’t lie, I was a bit overwhelmed by what I was presented with, with the very English part of my brain screaming: ‘What the hell have I signed myself up for here.’
But after working through the initial embarrassment, I found myself actually learning a few things, such as brand new techniques for acts that I thought I’d already reached an expert(ish)-level at. I was surprised by how in-depth the courses actually go - from bedroom beginners to those who want to try something much spicier, there really seemed to be something for everyone.
What I really loved about the platforms is that there is a huge emphasis on communication. While you’d think this would be a given in any relationship - whether you’re officially ‘together’ or not - it’s something that’s often not present in casual dating.
Carly agrees: ‘We live with people, we marry them and have kids together - but a lot of us can't speak sexually about what we do and don't like. We may not even know what our bodies really look like or have actually even looked,’ she says. ‘So really, it's about taking people back to basics in being comfortable with themselves. And then also knowing that life is a cycle and your libido is never fully promised - I am seven months pregnant and my libido has been gone during this pregnancy, but it was amazing in my last.
‘It's knowing that it's always going to fluctuate, and that's normal - you're not alone.’
Denise echoes the sentiment, and adds, ‘CHEEX recognises that discussing sex and sexuality can often be taboo, particularly in candid and explicit ways - but we believe it's high time we make these conversations accessible and normalised.’
Another thing to note is that the lessons aren’t just about how to perform specific sex acts, and there are plenty of lessons to watch that focus on connection (‘relationship rebuilding’), and even health issues (‘solving premature ejaculation’). The platforms are also incredibly inclusive, and have tons of courses for those who are disabled or LGBTQ+.
As I’ve been single for 18 months, I was pleasantly surprised that a huge amount of the content caters to this, including courses on ‘online dating’, ‘casual hook ups’ and even ‘how to deal with rejection’ (something I feel all Hinge users should probably take note of when it comes to the rancid world of dating apps).
When it came to putting my newly-researched skills to the test, while there were no complaints before, the feedback was really positive. Although I didn’t feel particularly unconfident before this ‘experiment’, thanks to the backing of expert advice, I now knew there was research behind the tips and tricks, which encouraged me to try new things and feel more empowered.
Beforehand, there was already an expected level of consent and communication, but using the platforms made us both more vocal and open to what we really wanted - they were almost used as a tool and an ‘excuse’ to open up the conversation and watch the videos together.
All this helped me to be more present in the moment, and my boosted confidence was noted afterwards; and, like Jess’s boyfriend, Alex even wanted to take a look at the platforms himself - no mean feat for a man who thinks he knows it all.
So, will I become a full-time subscriber to one of these sex education platforms? If you’d asked me that at the beginning of the week, I would quickly have turned crimson and said absolutely not. But I can definitely see the appeal, and for people like my friend Jess, the back-to-basics approach really helps to build confidence and open up communication for those who admit they haven’t got much of a clue what to do in bed.
For me, they are probably something to dip in and out of (pardon the pun) - but if I’m ever in need of inspiration, I’ll be sure to fire up my subscription again…
*Names have been changed.