Feb. 29, 2016
Despite the accessibility of resources and knowledge to practicing healthy sexual habits, college students are still taking risks when it comes to sexual health.
UCCS took part in a comprehensive undergraduate study conducted by the American College Health Association that found that 52.5 percent of sexually active male and female college students used any method of contraception the last time they had vaginal sex.
“What we have found is when people are in a monogamous relationship they don’t worry about it,” said Stephanie Hanenberg, executive director of Health Services at the Wellness Center.
Hanenberg explained that when you only have one partner, there is a perception of safety and immunity from pregnancy and infection, despite the risk of a partner cheating.
“It only takes one time to get pregnant or get a (sexually transmitted infection),” she said.
The study also found that of the students who did use a form of contraception to prevent pregnancy the last time they had vaginal sex, 34.5 percent of them used withdrawal.
“I am surprised at how many students think withdrawal is an effective form of birth control,” Hanenberg said.
She added that withdrawal is the least effective method of birth control and offers no protection against STIs.
The study, conducted in spring 2015, surveyed 74,438 students either by web or paper across 108 different higher education institutions. The survey asked questions related to health among college students, including categories of alcohol and drug use, mental health and sleeping habits.
According to its website, the ACHA, and the study, help educators and medical professionals at college institutions understand the health habits of students, advancing the health of college students and campus communities through advocacy, education and research.
Jesse Perez, program director of the LGBT Resource Center at the MOSAIC Office, said the study helps to de-stigmatize the lack of contraceptive use being only an LGBT issue.
“The study shows that it is a problem for all students, not just those that identify as LGBT,” Perez said.
In the study, 88.5 percent of the participants described themselves as heterosexual, while 12.5 percent described themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure.
In regards to sexual health, the study covers other areas such as number of partners, kinds of sex and their respective frequencies, and contraceptive use.
When counseling students who come to the Wellness Center with concerns about sexual health, Hanenberg tells students to prepare for their choices.
“I tell them before they become sexually active they need to make sure they are prepared to continue with the emotional, physical and relational consequences,” she said.
“I also wish they would research all methods,” said Hanenberg.
The Wellness Center provides many resources to UCCS students, including no-questions-asked free condoms, a $15 consultation on sexual health and testing for college students under the age of 26 for the major STIs such as syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV.