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Doctor-cum-influencer Niveditha Manokaran is smashing the stigma around sex, one Instagram post at a time

Published on:10 January 2021, 14:05pm IST
Dr Niveditha Manokaran is a venereologist who goes by dr_nive_untaboos on Instagram. And with her posts, she is educating Indians about sexual health.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Sex is definitely a taboo in India. But it’s time to change that, says Dr Niveditha. Image courtesy: Dr Niveditha Manokaran

Let’s NOT talk about sex baby! Well, we know that’s not how the song goes, but then again when it comes down to actually talking about sex we prefer to keep mum. Remember back when we were kids, how our parents would suddenly change the TV channel when an “intimate moment” was telecasted? Well, we’ve all been there. But thanks to social media, a few budding influencers are talking about sex openly–trying to remove the stigma around it. deal. And Dr Niveditha Manokaran is one of them.

Dr Niveditha Manokaran is a dermatologist and venereologist from India who is working as a clinician in sexual and reproductive medicine and HIV medicine in Sydney. On Instagram, she goes by dr_nive_untaboos. 

On her handle, she fearlessly talks about everything under the sun related to sexual health like infections, libido, STIs, contraceptives, and the list just goes on and on. Her videos are not just fun to watch but they are loaded with information that comes handy.

Her idea is to create a safe space for people who want to discuss their sexual health. And believe it or not, this small initiative is helping thousands of people out there. Today, Dr Niveditha is sharing her incredible story of being a changemaker with us.

This is what it’s like being a venereologist

You must be wondering what a venereologist really does. “A venereologist is someone who takes care of people’s sexual health. Sexual health care is an overall approach to one’s sexual needs and problems and not just identifying and treating STIs,” explains Dr Manokaran.  

She also mentions that a major part of her job includes taking a detailed sexual history in a non-judgmental fashion, identifying red flags like sexual abuse, sexual coercion and violence, providing testing and treatment for STIs, advising about right contraception, and also providing the right referral and counselling whenever needed.

Dr Niveditha believes It’s high time that we start talking about sex out in the open

“Not talking about sex increases the number of STIs, the risk of having complications with STIs, missing to recognize sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancies and life threatening miscarriages and terminations. How much knowledge one needs to be given may differ from one individual to another, because by talking about it we only benefit from not dealing with complications,” she shares.

Dr Nivedita Manokaran
Meet, Dr Nivedita Manokaran.
This is how  dr_nive_untaboos was born

“I grew up in an era where I did not EVER speak about sex at my house, and my parents were surgeons. I myself did not receive any sex education. Most of it came from girl talk. The irony is that I trained in dermatology and venereology, and still did not talk about SEX,” she quips.

She adds, “When I moved to Sydney I started working in sexual health, because I did not get a job in dermatology that year. I was fascinated by the amount of care, respect, and identity the area was given. Here I am, 11 years into this field, absolutely loving what I do. I was ashamed for not giving back this kind of care to the country I grew up in. It definitely needs this and that is what led to me starting my Insta handle dr_nive_untaboos. What other better way to reach people than social media?”

She agrees that talking about sex is definitely a tabooed topic in India. No surprises there right? “I named my handle untaboo, because I’d like to break the ice on many other topics including sex, menstruation, contraception, termination, domestic violence, mental health, and sexual assault which are otherwise considered as tabooed topics,” says Dr Nivedita.

“If I talk about my audience then they are looking for information that is hard to find, hard to talk about, and discuss. They are looking for guidance, reassurance, and resources that they can reach out to. I also conduct live sessions and workshops with NGOs, etc and I am grateful for all the support I receive,” she shares.

And without a doubt it wasn’t an easy journey. But she believes in it and today she is a youth icon.

Women should understand that sex education is of utmost importance, she says

“There is research that has proven that sex education increases the age of sexual debut and helps people make informed choices rather than hitting and trying.  It also decreases STIs and unwanted pregnancies, and the risks associated with them,” she advocates.

Although both genders need to have proper sex education, she thinks that women need it more. She suggests that everyone has a right to lead a healthy sexual life and make choices.

I was asked weird questions about sex and that shows the lack of awareness, she adds

“I feel like these questions come from absolute lack of knowledge, stigma, and guilt associated with the word sex. Sad but true! Questions like: ‘I want to have sex, and I am not married… how can I stop this bad thought?’; ‘I masturbate daily, will it affect my children?’; ‘Me and my boyfriend kissed, and I have missed my periods. Can I be pregnant?’; ‘Will I be punished if I want to have sex?’ are thrown at me on a regular basis,” she shares.

This is her message for everyone out there

“I just want to say that wanting to have sex is normal. There is nothing to be ashamed of wanting to have sex, either with someone or exploring on your own. What is important is to know that sex is pleasurable, both mentally and physically. If it doesn’t feel right, good, or forced, that’s not ok and that needs to be addressed. Find a reliable adult to talk about it. Sexual health is the need or the hour. Let’s bring that change now,” she said as she signed off.

Well, that’s Dr Niveditha for you. Her story is the epitome of how nothing is impossible if you have the right intention. Not even building a world where talking about sex is not frowned upon. 

Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.