If someone wants to avoid an unwanted pregnancy or refrain from contracting a sexually transmitted disease or infection (STD/STI), health promotion coordinator for Student Health Services Renee Bateman said the most scientifically efficient way to do that is by practicing complete sexual abstinence. However, not everyone wants to practice abstinence, and that’s where the Student Health Services’ Protection Connection comes in.
Unwanted pregnancy can be bypassed with the help of birth control. With many different types to choose from, with a variety of benefits, Bateman said Student Health Services can help anyone get the method they prefer or need, whether they’re hormone-based or not. Most people know about the hormone-based vaginal rings and oral contraceptives, or pills, but other possibilities include Implanon, Depo-Provera, and Intrauterine Devices (IUDs), as well as condoms.
Pregnancy prevention is not the only thing birth control helps with. Certain types of birth control, such as pills, patches, vaginal rings, IUDs and Depo-Provera, which is a shot of artificial hormones, can also reduce menstrual bleeding and cramps in the person using them. Some birth control methods, like oral contraceptives and Depo-Provera, can also decrease one’s chances of contracting ovarian and endometrial cancers. Bateman said the only form of birth control that helps protect against STDs and STIs is correct and consistent condom use.
Bateman said two of the most common STIs in the country are chlamydia and gonorrhea. During SRU’s 2014-2015 academic year, Bateman said there were 58 diagnosed cases of chlamydia and five cases of gonorrhea. Both are curable, and both are consciously preventable, as are most other STDs and STIs.
Bateman said sexually transmitted diseases and illnesses are not, contrary to popular belief, limited to vaginal sex. They can also be contracted anally and orally, and the easiest, most efficient way to prevent most of these diseases and illnesses is to practice absolute abstinence, which means no sexual contact at all, vaginally, orally or anally. The second most adept method of prevention, for those who are disinterested in abstinence, is very strict condom usage. Male condoms are most common, but female condoms and dental dams work just as well.
Unfortunately, some illnesses can also be transmitted through breast milk or blood, and are therefore more difficult to prevent.
Bateman said if you have contracted a disease like chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis, they are curable with antibiotics or penicillin if treated within a reasonable amount of time. However, if they are left untreated for too long, these diseases can cause serious health problems, Bateman said. For those who may have contracted HIV, HPV, HSV or hepatitis B, there are no known cures, but symptoms can be treated and lessened.
Bateman said students can always visit Student Health Services for birth control options and STD and STI testing, and they will do anything they can to help you get what you need. Even if someone has never used birth control before, or never been tested, they can provide you with all the information you need to make your decision.
Located in the Student Health Center in Rhoads Hall, the Protection Connection is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays. Tests for some STIs and STDs will be able to be scheduled on Wednesday, March 2, Thursday, March 24 and Thursday, April 28. Chlamydia and gonorrhea tests and Type 2 herpes tests are $15 and syphilis and HIV tests are free.
Condom vending machines are also available around campus if you are uncomfortable speaking with someone at the Protection Connection in the Student Health Center or buying them at a store. Vending machines are located in both men’s and women’s restrooms in Boozel Dining Hall and in the Women’s Lounge on the second floor of Bailey Library. The condoms are 50 cents for two, and there are many different brands and types in each machine.