Canadians aren’t dullards when it comes to sexuality, says Dr. David McKenzie, a Vancouver-based couples counsellor and sex therapist – and that’s especially true if you live in British Columbia. The province is considered to be more sexually open compared to Ontario, for example, where the industrious and somewhat uptight profile of the province is likely reflected in the boudoir as well!
“Sex never stands alone. It’s always connected to other issues, both within ourselves and within relationships,” says Dr. McKenzie. “So if you’re going to have a more liberal and open person politically and otherwise, you’re going to find that person on the whole to be more open too.”
McKenzie says B.C. tends to be the adventuresome ‘frontier land’ of Canada. “Vancouver attracts a lot of people who want a more laid-back, recreational lifestyle.”
Other regional personalities in Canada that he has noted: the Maritimes tends to be community-oriented with friendly down-to-earth people; Quebec is the passionate province; the Prairies are a friendly place; and Alberta is a very conservative province... with a more conservative attitude sexually.
In general, Canadians of all ages embrace sexuality. McKenzie cites a recent study by Eli Lily that shows couples in their 50s and 60s want more robust sex lives – they’re looking for more adventure.
At the same time, Alexander McKay, research coordinator for the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada, says Canadian youth in particular have become more educated about sexuality. Younger people are increasingly savvy about their sexual health compared to past generations. They’re more likely to use condoms and less likely to get pregnant then their parents were.
“All of it is part of the gradual liberalization of Canadian society around the issue of sexuality.” McKay says youth in general are feeling more comfortable talking with friends and health professionals about sexuality and sexual health. Sex education has improved in some schools, and the internet has provided a way for every person to access information that is specifically suited to their own needs.BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
McKay cautions that many Canadians are blissfully ignorant about sexual health. “Young adults, people in their 20s, 30s and people who are newly single, are woefully ignorant about things like sexually transmitted infections, and put themselves at risk.”
Consistent condom use helps to reduce the risk of infections such as HIV, Chlamydia, genital herpes and HPV. Unfortunately, condom use declines with age.
“Some people stop using condoms when they are in a relationship. But most of us have more than one relationship over the years. If you stop using condoms in each relationship that equals unprotected sex with a number of different partners and increases the risk for getting a sexually transmitted infection.”