When it comes to choosing a birth control that works for the individual, the list of options is wide and diverse. While some contraceptives are inserted to last between five and 12 years — like the implant or an IUD — others can be less invasive on the body, such as condoms or the pill.
At the University of New Mexico, education about sex and protection is strongly advocated for by offices like Student Health and Counseling (SHAC). However, the details of birth control options are not always given to students, and many women do not know how contraceptives are affecting them, or even protecting them from unwanted pregnancy.
In July of 2019, the University of Ohio published a study that was conducted by associate professor Maria Gallo and her team. They found that there were gaps in the knowledge women have about birth control effectiveness.
In their study, Gallo and her team found that women who used the IUD, oral contraception, withdrawal and male condoms were mistaken about information concerning the birth control they were using.
While male condoms average to be about 85% effective, half of the women in the study who used condoms believed them to be the most effective option to prevent pregnancy.
Participants who used the IUD were more likely than other participants — who relied on oral contraception, condoms and withdrawal — to know that the IUD is the most effective (99%) birth control option. Of the 421 total participants, only 31 percent of them could identify the IUD as the most effective.
“This study suggests that women may be more likely to believe the form of birth control they choose is the most effective, even if that isn’t the case,” Gallo told the Ohio State News.
Gallo’s research was conducted in Hanoi, Vietnam and consisted of mostly married women averaging the age of 34. She said she hopes this study can lead to more research about how efficient a short, animated video would be in the education of women about the effectiveness of the different kinds of birth control.
At the University of New Mexico, SHAC strives to provide as much information to students as they can about protecting themselves through the use of condoms and other contraceptive options according to their staff.
Generally, students have to visit SHAC to receive more information about birth control, usually regarding effectiveness, details about use and the price with or without insurance.
Tiffany Martinez-Durant and Leah Adent, faculty leaders for SHAC’s Health Promotion and Outreach, told the Daily Lobo that all students are welcome to visit the SHAC to learn about their birth control options farther than information they could get on the internet.
“It takes two to tango,” said Martinez-Durant, “So it’s both people’s responsibility — regardless of what kind of relationship you are in — to make sure you are keeping each other safe.”
Another barrier students might face when addressing their health, whether it be sexual health or any other need, is their knowledge of insurance coverage.
“For most students, I would have to say, (knowing) their insurance is the biggest barrier. That’s just something your parents tell you to have and it’s like ‘okay, I’ll take it to the doctor.’” Martinez-Durant said.
Martinez-Durant and Adent recommend that students call the number on their insurance cards and ask what is covered by their plan. According to them, that is the quickest and easiest way to know about their insurance and what they will need to pay for.
At SHAC, students can receive any needed contraceptive along with the information about it. SHAC also provides STI testing, health care services, mental health counseling and many other services at low costs to students.
For more information on SHAC, readers can visit their website at http://shac.unm.edu/.
Alanie Rael is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AllyRael