UWL Talks Birth Control, STI’s, and Sex

Sam Stroozas, Staff Reporter

Birth Control – a topic many University of Wisconsin La Crosse students do not engage talking in because of embarrassment, lack of knowledge, or simply avoidance. Birth control methods are an essential conversation because in a country that primarily teaches abstinence-only education, many students come to UWL with incorrect knowledge about contraceptives.

Thankfully, Sexual Health Week puts on events such as “Breakfast and Birth Control” so students can come and learn about the less discussed contraceptives and debunk myths about STI’s, sex, etc.

Kate Ebert, the Wellness Coordinator at UWL planned Sexual Health Week along with other partners – Student Life Wellness and Health Advocacy, Violence Prevention, Peer Health Advocates, College Feminists, Department of Health Education and Health Promotion, Pride Center, Campus Activities Board, CRU, Eta Sigma Gamma, Student Health Center, and Essential Health Clinic.

Ebert took initiative in the event “Breakfast and Birth Control.” Ebert commented on the event, “It is important for UWL to have events like these because they raise awareness. We are talking about a variety of topics this year such as body image, cultural and societal norms, sexual abuse, etc. We need to have these conversations.”

Many UWL students may think STI’s only impact a small number of people so birth control barrier methods such as condoms and internal condoms are not necessary. Ebert and her team shared that this is not the case. During a trivia question, Shelbey Hagen, Peer Health Advocate said, “1 in 2 people will get an STI during their lifetime and 16 billion dollars per year is spent treating STI’s. This number does not reflect the people that don’t even get tested but still have an infection.”

Hagen has put in effort on campus by helping on events such as this one and being a Student Ambassador at the Essential Health Clinic. Hagen commented on the event from a student employee perspective, “This is a great event to have and I learned a lot while prepping for it, as did those who attended. I looked for good sources such as Center for Disease and Control Prevention, Planned Parenthood, and Bedisder. These sources allowed me to have valuable questions that could teach students something knew about birth control and STI’s that they never considered.”

Having these conversations are never easy but Ebert suggests attending the events of Sexual Health week to spark dialogue. Ebert added, “Our basic goal is to empower students to make the right decision. Once you go to events and learn more you are able to make informed decisions about your sexual health.”

UWL prides itself on being inclusive, yet this is an aspect of the University that often fails in many areas. Ebert discussed the inclusivity of this event compared to those in the past. Ebert stated, “We are working towards being as inclusive as we can be with the events. There is a whole event about heteronormativity in sexual health this year and we have incorporated more inclusive language, contraceptive methods, etc. Sexual health has always been rooted in the idea of female-male condom usage but that is not accurate. We want to advocate for all of our students to have a safe environment where they feel free to have these discussions.”

“The event was very inclusive. They had internal condoms, dental dams, and more. There was no problematic language and they acknowledged that sexual health has heteronormative tendencies but that would not be how they were going to teach it,” added Senior Allison Lemke.

Lemke went on to note, “It was fun and informative. I thought these were conversations I already knew most of the details about, but I was able to learn even more.”

STI’s are a serious issue impacting college students. Practicing consensual and safe sex is always going to be the best sex, and don’t forget to get yourself tested for free at the Essential Health Clinic.