Just the Tips

Safe sex and how to have it

In light of the country’s new administration, women’s health services have become increasingly hard to find. With the constant debate of “do we or don’t we” defund Planned Parenthood, and the politics that have always surrounded women’s ability to do as she sees fit with her body, women’s health seems to have fallen to the forefront of the current political agenda. Back on Jan. 23, a group of white, male political advisers surrounded Trump while he signed a bill, reinstating the “Global-Gag Rule,” which will make it impossible for over 27 million women worldwide to have access to family planning resources, birth control and typical yearly gynecological care that is standard practice in the United States. Trump’s “Global Gag Rule” stipulates that non-U.S. nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. family planning funding cannot inform the public on the need to make safe abortion available, provide legal abortion services, or provide advice on where to get an abortion. This rule, while not directly at odds with Roe v. Wade, still has dire consequences for those seeking abortions and preventative services in the U.S.

We here at the Reproductive Health Coalition know you are most likely going to have sex. It is college, and more than a few of us know what it like to take a pregnancy test in the local Walmart at 1 a.m. We know the panic running through your head: “What if I need to get an abortion? How can I even pay for it? Where do I go? What if I have a sexually transmitted disease? How would I treat a urinary tract infection if I do not have insurance?” Despite administrative changes, resources are still out there. Let us start with the basics.

On campus, there are multiple places that you can pick up condoms or lube. Dental dams, which are highly recommended for vaginal oral sex in order to prevent STDs, are harder to come by due to their lack of availability and high price. However, the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Social Justice Center, Winslow Health Center and multiple club boards such as the Reproductive Health Coalition, Gender and Sexuality Alliance and Young Feminists can provide you with free condoms and lube. Currently, both GSA and ReproCo have some dental dams for free as well.

Did you forget the condom? Do you think you missed a dose of your birth control after having unprotected sex? Winslow Health Center sells the Plan B pill for just $15. I know this still hurts your pocket, and absolutely no one likes to go walking down to Winslow obnoxiously early in the morning to mutter, “I need Plan B,” while the lady checking you in says, “You need what?” As someone who has done just that, I can tell you it sucks. I can also tell you that Winslow can diagnose and treat your urinary tract infection for free, and those suck a lot more when they go untreated. However, do not forget that Plan B needs to be taken within 72 hours of intercourse in order to be effective. Seventy-two hours is the absolute maximum. It should really be taken as soon as possible.

Do you think you got an STD from that hook-up last weekend? Winslow does STD testing about twice a semester. If you feel that you cannot wait or if you think you are having symptoms, you can get tested immediately at Family Planning on 747 Terrace St. in Meadville. Patients are charged on a sliding scale, which basically means you pay based on your income. It is possible to pay nothing. Family Planning can also provide counseling for abortion services and other options should you have an unwanted pregnancy.

If you have decided that an abortion is right for you, for any reason, then let us steer you toward Planned Parenthood on 933 Liberty Ave. in Pittsburgh. Planned Parenthood offers counseling on all of your options, including keeping the child and adoption. This Planned Parenthood—with the emphasis on this specific center because while many Planned Parenthoods offer counseling, not all of them offer abortion services, especially in Pennsylvania—offers medication abortion (abortion pill), sedation options and the in-clinic abortion. Keep in mind that you can only take the abortion pill up to exactly 10 weeks after you conceive. However, there is also the option of the in-clinic abortion, where you may choose to be sedated so that you are more comfortable. The in-clinic abortion is available up to 18 weeks after the start of your last menstrual period. If, while you are there, you decide not to have an abortion, that is okay too.

Finally, do you just need birth control? Are you not sure which one to pick, since you are unsure of if your insurance will cover it once the Affordable Care Act is removed? Many women have been choosing to get an intrauterine device. IUDs are inserted directly into the uterus through a small surgery that will cause discomfort for a few days. After getting the IUD, many women experience an increase in minor cramping; however, most report that the cramping has not affected their quality of daily life. An IUD, depending on the type you get, can prevent pregnancy for three to five years or longer. Other options to consider are the pill, the patch, the shot, the implant and the NuvaRing. While I will not go into detail about all of these, it is important to have an in-depth conversation with a women’s health professional to figure out your best option both financially and medically.