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April 02, 2014 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-02

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6B Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pick your protection: The impact of contraception usage on campus
by Amrutha Sivakumar

At least getting protected isn't the hard
While college is a time when many stu-
dents choose to explore their sexual free-
dom, universities such as Michigan have
been on the frontline of advancing sexual
health and contraception education.
Prescription contraception was first
introduced in the United States in the
early '60s. While certain progressive states
allowed unmarried women under the age of
21 to seek prescriptions, others did not. Uni-
versity alum Brad Hershbein, an economist
at the W.E. Upjohn Institute, co-authored
an academic paper titled "The Opt-In Revo-
lution? Contraception and the Gender Gap
in Wages" and found that women who had
access to contraception when it was first
introduced often had a different life path
than those who did not.
"They were more likely to enroll in col-
lege, more likely to get a degree, more likely
to get job training when they actually did
enter the workforce," Hershbein said.
Women at the University of Michigan use
contraception at a higher rate than aver-
age when compared to U.S. universities,
according to the National College Health
Assessment survey administered at the Uni-
versity in 2010. Through his research, Her-
shbein concluded that contraception usage
increases with education. Approximately 50
percent of college women nationally are on
birth control at any given time, and consume
contraception at twice the rate of those not
in college before their 40s, he said.
Gwendolyn Chivers, director of Univer-
sity Health Service's ancillary services, said
it is generally a student's personal prefer-
ence where they chose to purchase their
prescription contraception. While the UHS
pharmacy offers some forms of contracep-
tion at lower prices than other pharmacies,
merchandise stores - such as pharmacies
inside grocery stores - offer certain brands
at a less expensive price.
"We make the effort to make sure that we
are in line with as many prescription insur-
ance (plans) as we can be with so that we
can service our students," Chivers said, add-
ing that approximately 80 percent of women
on campus who purchased birth control had
prescriptions covered by health insurance
even prior to the Affordable Care Act.
"Today a lot of birth control is purchased
with health insurance so you don't have to
be concerned of the cost that you used to
have to be worried about," she noted. "Some
prescription insurance carries birth control

at zero copay, and that is all because of the
Affordable Care Act."
A place on campus
Located on the third floor of the UHS
building, the Women's Clinic works with
enrolled students to provide contracep-
tive counseling and prescriptions. Many of
their services are covered by the manda-
tory health service fee that all students are
required to pay.
The physicians at the Women's Clinic
administer "comprehensive contraceptive
counseling" to students who wish to start a
birth control prescription but are not sure of
what type of contraception they are interest-
ed in, said Susan Ernst, chief of UHS Gyne-
cology Services.
As of spring 2013, the American College
Health Association found that 60.4 percent
of college students prefer the birth control
pill as their primary form of contraception,
while 6.5 percent prefer to use an intrauter-
ine device. Recently, national organizations
such as the American College of Obstetri-
cians and Gynecologists have pushed the
University to recognize Long Acting Revers-
ible Contraception methods. according to
"More recently, we are trying to talk about
the most effective methods first," Ernst said.
"In the past we would often talk about the
most used methods - such as birth
control pill, the ring, or the patch - and
then go on to talk about things like the Long
Acting Reversible Contraception - such as
the implant or the IUD."
Ernst added that the possibility of human
error when periodically replacing birth con-
trol pills, patches and rings increases the
chance of unintended pregnancy when com-
pared to LRAC methods. Though barrier
methods of contraception - such as con-
doms, female condoms, dia- phragms and
cervical caps have the least efficacy, Ernst
said the Women's Clinic still offers them to
students as an option.
For University alum Sydney Gallup, for-
mer president of student organization Stu-
dents for Choice, reproductive health is
more than just a personal concern. As a part
of her role in Students for Choice, Gallup sat
through the waiting rooms at UHS, evaluat-
ed informational materials and scrutinized
the location and quality of their available
condoms to evaluate ways to recommend
improvements to the same.
"At the time I was paying $1,000 a year for

pills that for most of the time had horrible
side effects, and I was working a shitty job
downtown to help pay for it," Gallup said. "I
was paying $45 dollars a week, while being a
full-time student, to pay for birth control -
which was pretty silly."
Gallup said she found many of the pam-
phlets were outdated and didn't include
comprehensive information on IUDs. Fur-
thermore, she said the pamphlets did not
help women learn about the questions they
should be asking about their reproductive
"If (UHS) is not going to redirect students
to a place like Planned Parenthood and they
want them to overcome these barriers, they
need to cover all their bases," she said. "Oth-
erwise they're really cheating students from
knowing about reproductive health."
Gallup added that because she believes
contraceptives are often stigmatized on col-
lege campuses, many students she spoke to
found it difficult or embarrassing to take
condoms from UHS. Though the condoms
are offered for free, she said the fact that
they are not placed in a discrete location and
are not from a major brand dissuades stu-
dents from using them.
Located a floor above the Women's Clinic,
sexual health educators at Wolverine Well-
ness also work with students and advise on
contraceptive options. While the Women's
Clinic looks at a patient's medical history
to determine their optimal contraceptive
method, Wolverine Wellness connects
students with public health professionals to
provide general health advice.
Laura McAndrew, a sexual health educa-
tor at Wolverine Wellness, said students are
often concerned about whether their insur-
ance providers would cover contraception
and if their parents would find out about
their contraception usage. While Wolverine
Wellness can't answer many of those ques-
tions directly, it helpspoint students in the
right direction.
A risky affair
As the number of contraceptive options
increase and the Affordable Care Act
improves accessibility, weighing the associ-
ated risks and side effects of contraception
becomes a daunting task for many.
Gallup said she believed the primary
problem with contraception awareness on
campus was misinformation. Anti-Planned
Parenthood protests organized by the
Planned Parenthood Project, and clinics -

such as Arbor Vitae - frequently give out
what she said is false information to women
about their contraceptive options.
"That is a big problem because their
advertisements are really present on cam-
pus," Gallup stressed. "It doesn't help with
the stigma that women oq campus face,
because if they do go there thinking they
can go discuss contraceptive options, they
are essentially shamed out of it."
While contraception options that include
estrogen and progesterone hormones have
inherent risks, including heart attacks and
strokes, Ernst said this was not a major con-
cern for most healthy women. Common side
effects such as nausea and breast tenderness
are typically not dangerous and diminish
over time, she added.
"We always outline those risks but when
you look at the chance of risk for a young,
healthy woman who doesn't have blood
pressure, or cholesterol, or high blood pres-
sure, or smokes, or obesity, then those risks
are even slightly lower than you would see
even in pregnancy," Ernst said. "When you
talk about the risks in context of their other
health (concerns), I think most people are
reassured by the fact that why there are
risks from using hormonal contraception,
the risks are actually fairly low."
Mood changes tend to be a common side
effect of hormonal contraception in the first
few months after starting a prescription,
Ernst said. The Women's Clinic advises stu-
dents to discontinue medication if severe
mood fluctuates persist after an extended
period of time. If mood changes are accom-
panied by other psychiatric issues, Ernst
said she advised those students to seek help
from Counseling and Psychological Servic-
"Patients more often think that weight
gain is caused by their pill and we have to
counsel them that it's probably not the pill,
and maybe there's some other cause for the
gain," she added, referring to the misinfor-
mation that students might have in regards
to side effects.
While the purpose of different University
programs might vary, McAndrew said the
scientific information provided at each was
comparable and the purpose was to provide
women with all the information they might
need so that they could make informed deci-
"Many students are using birth control,
and we're happy about that, but at the same
time we're happy to be here to address their
concerns," she said.

on the record
"Mismatch my ass."
- Basketball Center JORDAN MORGAN, coming offof the
court after beating the Tennessee Volunteers, who were projected
to win.
"No member of the FORUM political party has
participated in the technical development of the
SafeRide application at any stage of this process.
Mr. Greenfield claims to have participated in this
development process, but his assertion is simply
- Engineering Senior SUMMIT SHRESTHA to the UEC in a
March 25 letter used in last week's CSG lawsuit.
"It is embarrassing to even have to address this. None
of these claims are true whatsoever. I jokingly posted
the photo on Facebook before any talk of a divestment
resolution started."
- LSA senior YAZAN KHERALLAH, on the The Washington
Free Beacon's article assuing her ofposting threateningphotos
during the SAFE sit-in last week.

"I'm majoring in Political Science, Spanish and American Culture and I hope to go to
law school ... The type of law that I want to do is minority or disability law - employment
discrimination, that type of thing, so be the voicefor those who can't speak for themselves.
I would ultimately like to write policy because I think there needs to be written change in
orderfor there to be actual change that occurs."
- NICOLE JOSEPH, LSA junior, at the Holi Color Tag Festival on Sunday

#*Opening Day

- Sadly, Michigan
won't be moving
on this year, having
fallen short of
winning against
the eighth-seeded
21 IKentucky Wildcats,
with a last-second
y shot by Freshman
guard Aaron
Harrison over Caris

Some are calling for the political satirist
to be pulled from the air after he jokingly
tweeted about his "Ching-Chong Ding-Dong
Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or

"How I Met Your Mother" came to an end this
past week after nine years. The surprise ending
left viewers stunned and betrayed. A firestorm of
angry fans took Twitter and Facebook to give the
writers a piece of their minds.


Did you see
everyone lined
up outside of
the Union and
the Intramural
Building? They
were there to get
tickets for the
president, who is
on campus today
to talk about
raising the federal
minimum wage.

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