Campus Convos: Contraception

The majority of college students nowadays find themselves sexually active but not necessarily sexually informed. Condoms, oral birth control, IUDs, implants -- there are tons of different ways to avoid having a baby, but are college kids using them? We asked the students of Christopher Newport University to comment on their experiences with contraceptives, and if they felt like their options involving "family planning" were easily accessible or not.

Some interesting facts you may or may not want to know;

  • Condoms are the most commonly used form of contraception globally.
  • During the 1700s, women sometimes used lemon juice as a form of spermicide. However, this could (and did) damage vaginal tissue.
  • Over 222 million women in developing countries have expressed a desire to use a form of birth control but are not currently using it (both for financial and personal reasons).
  • 82% of teen pregnancies are unintended, and the United States is the leading country for unplanned teen conception.
  • Birth control in the US is legal for all ages, without parental consent. Meaning, it is illegal for your health care provider to disclose that information to your parents, regardless of your age.
  • The pull out method is only 73% effective and is not recommended as a form of birth control.
  • IUDs are the most effective form of birth control.

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17.3% of surveyed students said that they did not believe contraception should be free, stating that sex was a luxury and not a necessity.

  •  "It should definitely not be free and readily available to you. Sex is a luxury, not a necessity. If you can't afford birth control on your own, then don't have sex."
  • "I don't think contraception should be free since I choose to have sex. However, I do think feminine hygiene products should be free (or cheaper) since it is not a choice to have a period. "
  • "The cost of contraception is very reasonable, so making any form of it free seems unnecessary."
  • "I do not feel as though it should be free. There is no such thing as 'free' in the world, so somebody somewhere is paying for it, and it's not fair for them to be helping pay for it. If we were to make contraception free why not make asthma medicine free? People who have asthma can't control whether they have asthma or not. Or what about allergy medicine? It's a slippery slope."
  • "If you’re having sex, you can pay for contraception. You do not need to have sex. No one has died from not having sex. If you are having sex, you should purchase the contraceptives yourself and take responsibility for your actions."

9.9% of those surveyed said that they thought it should be cheaper, but a whopping 72.8% said that contraception should be free for a multitude of reasons.

  • "I believe in contraception because it has a multitude of health benefits associated with it. I’m not sexually active, but I take birth control cause it helps with my anemia and heavy flow. Basically, it keeps me from dying."
  • "It should be cheap and easily accessible. Preventing pregnancies before they happen lowers the abortion rate."
  • "I think contraception is something that should be available to all who want to use it. I, personally, think it’s a safe and healthy way to act on our desires without facing the possible consequences of having a child. Women nowadays want to focus on careers first, then have children. Contraceptives help achieve that goal. It should be easily accessible and absolutely free (as mine is)."
  • "I think it should be free to all women who’ve surpassed puberty, at least birth control pills. It doesn’t have to be the implant or IUD, just something for women who don’t have the access that I do."
  • "I feel that it should be free and covered by insurance, just as viagra is for men. "

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We then asked students if they felt their contraceptive options were readily available to them both at home and in the academic setting (on campus), and also if they felt the knew what their options were. 66.7% of those surveyed said they did feel as though their options were readily available, and that they had a good understanding of how to have protective sex. However, almost all survey participants stated that many other women and men do not have the options and accessibility that they do.

  • "I do know my options and the pros and cons of each, but I learned that from going to my OB/GYN regularly. Many women don't. One of the biggest arguments that very right-wing people have is to ban abortion... Well, if you made birth control easier to obtain instead of more expensive, people would actually use it, which would lower abortion rates. What a concept..."
  • "They have been available and easy for me to get because of the close relationship I have with my parents to talk to them on such matters. However, others need more opportunities to learn about what they can get and how to get it. We should help younger individuals be more prepared by making contraceptives free and easy to access."
  • "I feel like the university has been very open and welcoming about contraceptives, which has been encouraging. Generation Action gives out condoms for free when they table and that's really great."
  • "Definitely support contraception distribution/use. I know all my options and anything I want is covered by my insurance but some people don't have insurance/access to reliable reproductive education, putting working class people at disproportionately higher risk for unplanned pregnancy which should be addressed on a national level."
  • "I'm pretty familiar with my options but I recognize that sex education is a major issue in America and that worries me about future generations."

33.3% of students said that they did not feel as though they knew their options and had the accessibility they desired on campus.

  • "I haven’t seen any condom distribution on campus."
  • "I've personally emailed the clinic at CNU and was stunned to find out that they didn't offer free condoms. Evidently, they use to but I'm not sure why they stopped. I know that I can access resources but I feel like CNU doesn't do enough to promote sexual health on campus. It's like they don't want to talk about it."
  • "There needs to be more sex education. I didn’t realize there were other options besides the pill for years."
  • "I feel like I know many options, but not many other people may due to poor education. I feel like not only should education be better (please get rid of every abstinence ploy, schools, not only is it blatantly catering to Christianity it also worsens rates of pregnancy and other sex-related issues) but things like condoms and birth control should absolutely be free."
  • "it’s not readily available and should be cheaper if not free."

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It seems as though students strongly feel that contraception should be guaranteed to women, that there are multiple health benefits to birth control, and that there should be a major education increase in sex ed. What's your opinion on contraception? Leave your voice in the comments section below!