by Junelly Gonzalez
Student Health Services hosted an educational and informational seminar called “If you want it, you should have put a ring on it,” as part of Healthy Relationship Week on Wednesday, February 11.
This seminar was presented by Waterleaf Women’s Center, which focuses on pregnancy and STDs counseling.
“We test for most commonly for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea because of the fact there are no symptoms associated with that STD. These two types of STDs affect individual’s aged 15-24 at a rate of 70%. Waterleaf also does free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, offers adoption information and referrals, financial assistance, school and employment assistance, post pregnancy support, post abortion support, childbirth classes and STD testing and information,” said Assistant Nurse Manager at Waterleaf, Kathy Mensone.
The event brought up the topic of birth control and its effectiveness.
“It is a common misconception in today’s modern society that if you use a condom and birth control you’re safe. It is far too common for the youth to learn that you have to wear a condom and take birth control. It is kind of like a seatbelt and a helmet-wear them and you’ll be protected. Birth control is a false sense of assurance. It does not always work,” said Mensone.
Some students were not use to the topics discussed at the event.
“It is a difficult topic for this age group in particular because they feel they are moving into the adult world, but society is not helping them move into the adult world. They are getting mixed messages. So this event provides valuable information,” said Student Health Services Nurse, Pamela Deely.
The idea of false sense of assurance was further discussed during the seminar.
“Many people do not know this, but birth control, aside from not always preventing pregnancies, makes women more susceptible to get STDS because it changes a woman’s hormone balance. In fact, not every STD is protected with birth control. The way birth control works is it prevents a woman from ovulating so there is no egg to get fertilized and it changes cervical mucus (which inhibits the egg from traveling). The downside of this aspect is that cervical mucus actually is meant for protecting from STDS, so birth control inhibits that natural protector,” said Mensone.
“Another thing about birth control is if someone is prolife, they are not told that birth control causes an abortion. Once fertilization occurs, with a fertilized egg having attached to the lining of the uterus, it causes a period to happen. The pill will force an individual to have a period. It is really not fair to not tell women that. Another downside is the increase in risk of breast cancer. The pill contains high levels of estrogen and it was recently discovered that estrogen is a carcinogen, so that risk increases dramatically. Birth control is not like a vitamin, if you have to take it, know what you are taking and how high of a dose you are taking.”
The presentation acknowledged that sex does happen. So the people at Waterleaf discuss the concept of sexual integrity.
“Sexual integrity is asking what the purpose of sex is in my life. We ask woman and men what they are looking to get out of it. If someone is having sex, it is crucial to get tested. There are typically three reasons why people participate in sexual activity: bonding, pleasure and procreation. If one heavily outweighs the other, there can sometimes be an issue there. For example, hormones are released during sex and they cause the feeling of bonding, so what does that do to someone who has a one night hookup, or if someone cheats on you? We have to teach the differences between healthy and risky behaviors and the importance of getting tested,” said Mensone.
“STDs do not discriminate; they are based solely on behaviors. The more partners you have, the more likely you are to get an STD. That is the single biggest factor of catching an STD.”
For anyone who was unable to attend the event, Waterleaf has someone you can talk to, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 630.701.6270 or via text at 630.360.2256.