UT needs to inform students about STD prevention and the birth control options available to students. At orientation, each college holds mandatory presentations where students can learn about services available to them on campus, such as those offered by the UT Police Department and the Counseling and Mental Health Center. However, there are no mandatory presentations on University Health Services and the healthcare available to students during the presentations — including birth control options.
A mandatory information session on sexual health would benefit students by increasing awareness of sexual health and birth control options.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that UT offered birth control at all,” said Madison King, a radio-television-film freshman.
UT has numerous birth control options available for students through UHS, including birth control pills, birth control injections and intrauterine devices, according to Sherry Bell, the UHS consumer education and outreach coordinator.
Despite the availability of these resources, 20 percent of sexually active UT students report using an emergency contraceptive, such as Plan B, after intercourse in the last year.
With low rates of contraception use, high STD rates and relatively high rates of emergency contraception use, UT needs to change how they inform students about their sexual health.
Learning about birth control before new students fully transition to college would help students ensure they know how to access birth control and what kind of birth control to access.
“I wouldn’t know how to set up an appointment to get birth control on campus and what kind of birth control to ask for,” King said.
Bell said students can learn about birth control options on the Healthy Horns website.
Although students can find information about birth control online, a mandatory, in-person presentation by a health professional ensures that all students know how to avoid STDs and unintended pregnancy.
“It’s not a secret that kids have sex, and information on birth control could be discussed, even briefly discussed, when talking about services on campus,” King said.
Open discussion about sexual health reduces the stigma surrounding sex and contraception and could encourage students to explore their birth control and safety options early so they can be prepared to access birth control, if necessary, when they arrive on campus.
The burden of finding the right birth control should not fall solely on students’ shoulders.
“Talking about sex is important,” King said. “Talking about it only makes it safer for everyone, and I think more knowledge about contraception options would encourage contraception use.”
The way birth control information is shared — or really, not shared — is not working. UT students need to know more about contraception options and their sexual health, and UT must begin the conversation during orientation.
Zaksek is a Plan II and women’s and gender studies freshman from Allen.