Going Viral

Meet Sriha Srinivasan, The 20-Year-Old TikToker Destigmatizing Sex Ed

The UCLA grad teaches about birth control, pleasure, and more.

Elite Daily; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for The MAKERS Conference

With more than 195,000 followers and 5.8 million likes on TikTok, Sriha Srinivasan is tackling the stigma around sexual health one video at a time. On her page, @sexedu, the 20-year-old addresses everything from college hookup culture and sexual pleasure to debunking virginity — plus, she educates her audience on topics like emergency contraception, abortion, and reproductive rights. As a Bay Area, California, native and daughter of Indian immigrants, Srinivasan has crafted a unique career spanning social media, activism, and education — all with the intention of helping destigmatize sex.

“I love the work I do online, and I think it’s so important,” the 20-year-old tells Elite Daily. “But it has also enabled me to do better, more meaningful work in the communities I’m a part of, and that means a lot to me as well.” In June, Srinivasan graduated early with a bachelor’s degree in human biology and society from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). There, she was a proud member of the UCLA Sexperts, a group of peer educators promoting sexual health, pleasure, consent, and communication on campus. Post-grad, she’s already doing major things — like speaking at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Washington, D.C., to successfully advocate for the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the United States.

Despite these accomplishments, Srinivasan is still (very relatably) navigating her first summer after college. “I live a Hannah Montana life,” she says, calling from her grandparents’ home in India. “They know I’m doing an interview right now, but they have no idea what it’s about. No one here knows that I make TikToks because they don’t have the app.”

Below, the content creator tells Elite Daily about her journey as a sex educator.

Elite Daily: What was your experience with sex education growing up, and how did you decide to become a sex educator?

Sriha Srinivasan: As the daughter of immigrants in a religious household, we never really talked about sex. I went on to the Internet to figure everything out. I was lucky because, in California public schools, we get sex ed in fifth, seventh, and ninth grade, so I got a decent sex education.

I remember in my early teens, my mom and I were at the kitchen table arguing about how many holes somebody assigned female at birth has down there. That was kind of my lightbulb moment, like, “Oh, my God, there’s a gap here that I haven’t recognized before.” After that conversation, I started working on a sex ed curriculum, and soon after that, in early high school, I went to India and taught it to 300 students in grades six through nine. I came back to the U.S. and started working with Solano County Public Health, and that took me into my senior year of high school.

ED: At what point did you get the idea to start your TikTok page?

SS: My high school required us to have a senior project. I was planning to go into classrooms and teach a new sex ed curriculum I had made, but then COVID happened in March. I was devastated, but I still needed to graduate.

At the time, I was already a TikTok user — I didn’t have any followers, but I made videos for fun. I thought I’d post seven videos over a month to have something to present. The third or fourth video I posted was me dancing and educating about chlamydia. It got tens of thousands of likes, and I was amazed at the response. People really liked the content, and I was fighting a lot of misconceptions about STIs as well.

Because of COVID, I had so much time on my hands and nothing else to do. So I’d wake up, do my makeup, and make videos for hours on end. It was a really great distraction from the world around me.

ED: What are some of your favorite ways to educate others about sexual health, both online and IRL?

SS: In college, my favorite audiences to do workshops for were sororities and fraternities. In Greek life, a lot of the conversations centered around consent. Another thing is this concept of “being clean” — or alternatively, “dirty” — with STIs, and trying to destigmatize that.

Online, it’s interesting because my audience has kind of grown up with me. The things I talked about when I was 17 are different now that I’m 20 and have graduated college. Recently on my FYP, I’ve seen a lot of videos about the harms of birth control — basically saying that if you take birth control, especially at a younger age, you’re going to get cancer. It’s such a misconception, and misconceptions spread like wildfire.

I try my best — in person and online — to say, “It’s true that there is an increased risk of some cancers for some types of birth control, but there’s also a significantly decreased risk of ovarian cancer with most types of birth control, especially the pill. Yes, there are risks, but there are also benefits.” It’s every person’s choice what risks they take on, and young people can always seek out a medical provider’s opinion so they can feel comfortable that they’re choosing the right thing for them.

ED: Talking about sexual health on social media can be tricky. Have you ever dealt with censorship on TikTok?

SS: I’m a first-gen Indian American, and TikTok was banned in India in 2020, very early on in my TikTok career. That was sad for me because I was interested in talking about sexual health with other Indian kids. But with TikTok, I’ll misspell everything and “imply” what I mean. It’s hard because once videos get taken down, your reach slows down.

A few months ago, I changed my bio and used the phrase “sexual health,” and I got permanently banned. You could’ve heard a pin drop in my room. I was in utter shock. Luckily, I submitted an appeal and I got reinstated within a couple of days. It was terrifying — all I did was put the words in my bio, but that was enough for the system to immediately ban me, even though educational content on TikTok is allowed.

ED: Since TikTok is banned in India, you mentioned that some family members don’t know that you make sexual health content. Do you ever have to set personal boundaries with the content you share online?

SS: I started my TikTok when I was 17. My sister is 15 now, but at that time, she was around 12. I never post anything that I would be uncomfortable with her viewing. I started this platform because of my experiences with my own sexuality, my journey with pleasure, and wanting other people to know they deserve access to those things. I realized along the way that it was really important for me to have boundaries.

Even though videos about my personal life might do better in terms of numbers and algorithms, I’m very careful talking about my relationships — especially with my parents. Those things are sacred, so I’m not going to put them out onto the Internet. Also, I talk so much about consent, so I try to be aware of what I’m posting about other people. Certain things are more special when I’m able to have them to myself. When I’m ready to share, I will share, and I have such a lovely community that is open to that.

ED: You just graduated from UCLA, Class of 2023. Congrats! Now, the infamous senior-year question: Do you have any plans for after graduation?

SS: I got sick a few years ago with some chronic health issues, which really slowed me down and made me think about what I want to do with my life. That’s when I met Loretta J. Ross, who is my reproductive justice icon — she’s one of the co-founders of Sister Song, which is *the* reproductive justice org for women of color. I was absolutely starstruck, basically telling her my whole life story and lamenting about how I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. She said, “You know, I think you should go to medical school. We need people like you in the medical reproductive justice field.”

Though at first, I said, “Absolutely not, Loretta” — my immigrant parents have been telling me to go to med school since I could walk — after a lot of thought and stress, I’m applying! For me, going into medicine, specifically going into gynecology and family practice, is twofold. One, I get to do something I love. Two, I want to be the right kind of physician for everyone I talk to now — like high school students and college students. Someone who doesn’t stigmatize their sexual health and pleasure, and who has open conversations with them.

Also, I do a lot of birth control activism, and one day, I want to be one of the doctors making the decisions. I don’t want to necessarily always be fighting to convince somebody of what I know is right. I want to be making the decisions for what I know is right.

ED: Any final words of wisdom you want to share?

SS: When I was asked to give final words for my sorority on senior night, I said, “Pee after sex.” So, pee after sex!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.