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What We've Learned From 'Sex and the City'

From sex toys to infertility, HBO comedy raises awareness of sexual health.

WebMD Feature

When a television series ends, does it really just cease to exist or do its lessons live on, like those from your last serious relationship?

That's probably something that columnist Carrie Bradshaw (played by actress Sarah Jessica Parker on HBO's Sex and the City) would scribe if her assignment were to sum up the lessons gleaned from her hit sitcom over the past six seasons. And in truth, I do feel a bit like Carrie as I take a stab at that very topic -- except that I am wearing Nikes, not Manolo Blahniks, and I am writing about the show Sex and The City, not sex in the city.

And as it turns out, this topic is as hot of some of the steamy sex scenes aired on the show over the years.

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The final episode of HBO's breakthrough series Sex and the City aired on Feb. 22, and leading "sexperts" and women's health experts have a lot to say on the escapades -- and sexcapades -- of the four female friends who starred in the show.

Sex and the City covered "all issues that people face every day when they are dating and in relationships; it educated and entertained us and made it more acceptable for us to talk about these issues," says Los Angeles-based clinical sexologist Ava Cadell, author of several books, including 12 Steps to Everlasting Love.

From masturbation and sex toys to performance anxiety and infertility, "the show crossed certain boundaries where female sexuality is concerned," says Cadell, who counts herself among the millions of avid Sex and the City fans.

Importantly, viewers learned that "It's OK to be single in your 30s and 40s and its OK to initiate a relationship and/or sex," she tells WebMD.

Thanks to Sex and the City, we know that "sex toys are OK and fun and are not taboo," she says. "On the show, it's done with such humor that it becomes acceptable."

In one episode, one friend introduces another to the Rabbit Pearl vibrator, and another episode involves one of the leading ladies using handcuffs on her bed partner.

More Than Just Fun and Games

"Right now, the show is teaching women to go and get a mammogram, and that's fantastic," Cadell says, referring to the current storyline in which the promiscuous Samantha Jones (played by Kim Catrall) is diagnosed with breast cancer after consulting with a plastic surgeon about breast implants.

That said, "Samantha is not that realistic, and very few women can really relate to her sexual behavior," Cadell says. "I would have liked to have seen a little more realism and maybe to see her promiscuity get her into trouble."

"She was always having the best sex, and there should have been some consequences attached to one night stands," she says.

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