By Alissa Medina > Freshman > Media and Cultural Studies > University of California, Riverside; Photo by AR > Sophomore > Graphic Design > UMBC
Some students may be skeptical of receiving medical treatment from the “same place where you carry your backpack to go to classes,” said University of California, Northridge student Maziar Rad. “I was planning to go visit [the health center] once, but I thought I’d rather just go to a regular doctor.”
According to a study by the University of Manchester, 25 percent of America’s 18 million college students are under- or uninsured medically. Given the risky college social life (sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll), this can be a serious problem – but fortunately, your college is likely putting you at an advantage. Higher education institutions tend to offer exceptional choices in quick and efficient sexual healthcare; and the best part? It’s cheap.
Know Your School’s Policy
Female college students that did not know they had university health insurance were 41 percent less likely to receive gynecological examinations than students who had outside insurance, according to the Journal of Women’s Health. (Some universities, by the way, may follow the guidelines of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and will counsel you on how often you will need an exam).
Before you skip your regular check-ups for financial reasons, make sure you understand your campus health insurance policies. If your school offers free or reduced healthcare for students – don’t ignore the option! Take advantage of student rates during those four years, because come graduation time, you’ll miss those prices. While you’re researching, check with your campus health center to see what exactly their sexual health unit offers. Always be prepared.
The Best Sexual Health Resources
The 2010 Trojan Sexual Health report card revealed that Columbia University, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, University of Michigan, Brown University, and the University of Iowa are the elite in the top ten sexually healthy schools. Based solely on student opinion, Columbia claimed the number one spot because of its “campus health centers, readily available STI testing and easy access to contraception and condoms,” the report read.
The University of Iowa offers students free individual consultations, condoms, and group workshops. Yale University, though unranked, hosts a “Sex Week” during which the school offers exceptional sexual advice to students through campus discussions, online resources, and health center services.
Effortless Sex Check-Ups
“Campus health centers typically operate like walk-in clinics: They're staffed by doctors and physician's assistants who vary from day to day,” according to an AOL Health assessment. If you are in a rush – as it can be hard to find time for your health among your college schedule – your campus health center is the place to turn to. They serve only students, and are therefore prepared to work around your schedule and provide you the most efficient care possible.
Your university may ask you for you and your family‘s health history, but will keep your information confidential. Existing in an environment of sexual experimentation, college officials are prepared to steer you in the right direction in regards to STI-related and contraceptive needs. Most campus health centers function identically to traditional doctors’ offices; in that case, there’s no need to make a trip home to your regular doctor. They’ll be able to screen for sexually transmitted diseases as well as perform pap smears, breast exams, pelvic exams, and pregnancy tests.
Affordable Contraception Options
Your university offers contraception for both male and female students. Female students are revealed to reasonably priced methods of contraception, with prices ranging from $10 to $25 per pack or use. Your university should offer the emergency pill (Plan B), male and female condoms, spermicides, Depo shots, intrauterine device, and many, many more.
The best way to obtain contraceptives on campus is through your health center. Birth control is often available at cheap rates and sometimes offer complimentary items (don’t be embarrassed to raid the free condom bowl). University health centers allow walk-ins and do not turn students away from reaching medical attention.
And get this: your parents don’t have to know. Most campuses have confidentiality policies that protect students from even, yes, their families. To avoid traces of the prescription on your campus billing statements, use cash or credit cards on-scene to avoid parental roadblocks.
A brief warning, however: while contraception may be more affordable at your university than over-the-counter, it may pose an issue in some emergency cases. Campus health centers are often off-limits on weekends, so if you find yourself in a situation where you need time-sensitive medication on a Saturday (had a spontaneous hookup?), have a back-up medical source just in case.