Eckburg: Preventing pregnancy is a two-way street

Bella Eckburg

Graphic illustration of four quadrants of the same graphic depicting abstract bodies being held by hands in pastel colors (pink, blue, green, orange, purple)
(Graphic Illustration by Rachel Macias | The Collegian)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Most of us were taught about having safe sex since our awkward sixth grade sexual education class; you remember the one — I’ll give you a minute to work through the waves of cringe. 

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Whether your health teacher handed out condoms or reminded you that abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy — which is an entirely different conversation — we learned that having sex is fine as long as you use protection. However, the majority of preventions against pregnancy are directed toward young women. 

College students should be educated on having safe sex and recognize that family planning should not just be a woman’s job. Birth control comes with a list of side effects that affect women every day, and men should be informed on other contraceptive options instead of assuming that women are on birth control. Women deserve to feel supported and respected in their sexual encounters instead of putting their own health on the line for the sake of making sex more convenient for men.

Women are not on this earth to make things more convenient for men, especially sex.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2015 and 2017, “64.9% of the 72.2 million women aged 15-49 in the United States were currently using contraception.”

Although the majority of women aged 15-49 were using a method of contraception, it should not be considered to be a necessity to be on birth control during the years that you are sexually active. Birth control methods like the pill are effective, but it’s not the end-all-be-all of having safe sex. 

condoms laying in a pile
Condoms laying in pile on a table. (Photo Illustration by Matt Tackett)

Collegestats.org surveyed 2,000 former and current college students, finding 15% of those students reported never wearing a condom during sexual encounters. Also, on average, those who reported never wearing a condom had close to 18 partners — about five more partners than the average of students who reported always using protection.

Birth control does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, but condoms do. By using both, you are able to further protect yourself, but in hookups, female birth control should not be used alone. Furthermore, men should not assume that a woman is currently taking a form of hormonal birth control. 

Women are not on this earth to make things more convenient for men, especially sex. We are just as valid in our needs as men are, and everyone should expect sexual responsibility to fall equally on both parties. 

Although many people have no issues with side effects of hormonal birth control, there are many people who do. Common side effects include nausea, headaches and breast soreness. Yes, birth control protects you from pregnancy, but sometimes that protection comes with a cost. Anyone on the pill can attest to the gigantic pamphlet of side effects and instructions that folds out to be seemingly larger than a world map.

Many people also opt to not take any form of hormonal birth control at all in order to protect their mental health due to there being an increased risk of developing depression while taking any form. 

Remember, women can realistically only get pregnant once a year, while men are fertile and therefore can get someone pregnant 365 days a year. Yet the responsibility of preventing pregnancy is, for the most part, placed on women. 

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This is not a recent conclusion, and the World Health Organization even began testing a type of hormonal male birth control. However, and somewhat ironically, the trials stopped after participants began dropping out after experiencing side effects.

A lot of the same side effects of mood swings and acne that women report when on birth control were reported by men during the study. Although some of the results and effects were obviously different, the fact that the study was stopped after the side effects were reported deserves a collective eye roll. 

@libshartville

There is a back side #woman #period #birthcontrol #theaudacity

♬ original sound – Jack Mullenbach

College is definitely a time when many people are exploring their sexuality, either alone or with one or multiple partners. This exploration should leave both parties feeling valid and safe.

I’m not saying that sex needs to be a loving, slow and sensual experience. It can be anything you want it to be. If you are going to have sex with someone, though, you should protect yourself from STIs as well as pregnancy, and your partner should be held to the same standard. Men should be just as concerned and aware about the birth control their partner is on as their partner is. 

All college students should be informed on contraceptives. Birth control is effective in preventing pregnancy, but it also comes with a variety of side effects. Ideally, everyone should be practicing safe sex and the responsibility of preventing unwanted pregnancies should not just fall on young women, but both parties. Having safe sex is important, but it is not just a woman’s job and it should not be expected that women are taking birth control. 

Bella Eckburg can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @yaycolor.