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Health Matters: Contraceptions and Resources

In high school, there’s sex education. Why does this resource diminish as we continue onto college?  According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, “21 percent of all unplanned pregnancies occur to teen girls. Over 55 percent of all unplanned pregnancies occur to women in their twenties, and fully 1 million (33%) occur to women in their early twenties.”

Birth Control Pills. All photos courtesey of Wikimedia Commons

The majority of unplanned pregnancies happen in women’s twenties, a time when many women may be in college, so it’s only appropriate to continue to stress the importance of and educate students on being aware of various contraceptive methods and other resources available
for women.

Imelda Lopez is completing her last semester at Mills College. She is also twenty weeks pregnant.

“It has been tricky, balancing school and being pregnant, but for me it is manageable,” Lopez said. “I will graduate in December, give birth in February and stay home with my child until I figure out the
next step.”

While some students like Lopez may have a great support system and plan, if they become pregnant, that’s not the case for all women. There are Mills women who have gotten pregnant their first year at Mills and have decided to drop out to take care of their babies. These women were not comfortable having their names published, but were willing to share their
experiences anonymously.


“I really had no option,” said one former Mills student who dropped out after becoming pregnant. “I don’t believe in abortion and the best thing for me and my child is to be at home with her. But I did get my  pregnancy test from the Women Health and Resource Center (WHRC), which was a great resource at Mills that I was happy to turn to.”

While abstinence is the only guaranteed option of not getting pregnant, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, there are many methods that one can use to prevent unplanned pregnancy if s/he is
sexually active.

The most common contraceptive methods include: condom, pill, ring, patch, Intrauterine devide (IUD), and shot.

Condoms come in two forms, male and female. Condoms are easy to use and help to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. They are usually made from latex, but most popular brands like Trojan offer a latex free option for those who may be allergic.

The second method is the pill. According to WebMD, the pills must be taken every day, ideally at the same time, for it to be the most effective. It works by combining the female hormone, estrogen, with the male hormone, progestin. This combination curtails the release of an egg from the ovaries, which prevents pregnancy. However, because of the consistency that’s required, women seek out other options,  such as the NuvaRing, which can be used once every three weeks.

The NuvaRing has gained popularity in recent years. The NuvaRing is inserted manualy into the vagina and works by combining the hormones estrogen and progestin, which not only prevents eggs from releasing from the ovaries but also thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm and egg from joining.


Ortho Evra, commonly referred to as the patch, is another method. The patch is simply placed on a part of your body (usually the arm) and will begin to introduce estrogen and progestin  and will increase cervical mucus, both of which prevent
unwanted pregnancies.

Depo-Provera, also known as the shot, is an injection given in the arm that has a lasting effect for three months. This method also releases estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy.

Lastly, there is the IUD, which is a small, T-shaped, plastic device that is wrapped in copper and contains hormones. When inserted into the uterus (by a doctor), the IUD prevents fertilization of the egg by damaging or killing sperm also affecting the uterine lining (where a fertilized egg would implant
and grow).

Eliza Sibal, a junior, has been trying different contraceptions for some time.

“I sought the advice of a nurse practitioner who suggested that I try the intrauterine device (IUD),” Sibal said. “I had tried taking birth control pills and didn’t like the emotional rollercoaster it put me on. I also heard horror stories about getting shots, so I decided to try something simple. It works great. My periods are getting progressively lighter,  I no longer stress about taking a daily pill and I am no longer an emotional wreck ”

Not having adequate contraception can be due to not knowing where to obtain it, or not having the resources to afford it according to CAPS, a non-profit medical clinic with centers all over California.

The Student Health Center on campus offers free office visits, physicals and annual exams – just remember to bring your Mills student I.D. In addition, there are many other services available if you have the Kaiser Student Health Plan.

The Women’s Health Resource Center is also located on campus.  This center offers information on contraception as well as free condoms, dental dams, lubricants and much more. However, if these resources do not seem to be the right fit for you, consider the listed clinics to the side. All of them are local and free or low-cost clinics in the Oakland community that offer confidential services.

According to Planned Parenthood, women should explore all options available to them. If you find yourself pregnant and don’t know what to do, take advantage of the resources available to you. College  health centers are a good place
to start.