One in four college students has a sexually transmitted illness, according to Hartford Healthcare, and the Guttmacher Institute reported unplanned pregnancies are more frequent in those ages 18 to 24 than in any other age group. However, it has been proven that these numbers could decrease if more students had access to education and resources regarding safe sex.
The University of Maryland is one of many universities that offers a sexual health program at the University Health Center as well as many other sexual health resources — here is a guide on how you can take advantage of them.
You can obtain FREE sexual health supplies.
The university offers a variety of supplies for preventing STI transmission and unplanned pregnancy that can be picked up at the health center, including:
- External condoms — a thin rubber sheath worn on a penis during sexual activity
- Internal condoms — a soft, loose-fitting pouch that’s inserted into the vagina before sexual activity
- Dental dams — latex or polyurethane sheets used between the mouth and vagina or anus during oral sex
- Lubricant — a gel that reduces friction between intimate body parts during sexual activity
- Safer-sex kit — Baggies of condoms, lubricant, etc., provided to TerpZone and the Student Organization Resource Center (SORC)
- Abstinence kit — A selection of educational guides on how to experience healthy, non-sexual relationships with others as well as a variety of small objects that symbolize key aspects of abstinence (example: a Dum Dum lollipop because STIs suck)
- Free condoms can also be picked up at the LGBTQ+ Equity Center in Marie Mount Hall, and condoms, dental dams, lubricant and more are available for free from the Help Center located above South Campus Dining Hall. Also, bulk packs of safer sex supplies are provided by the health center once a month to RAs, Greek life leaders, and other student organization leaders.
You can explore and obtain birth control.
In addition to pregnancy-preventing supplies, students may work with the health center to look into other options of birth control, which include:
- More than 20 different types of birth control pills – a daily pill that contains hormones to change the way the body works and prevent pregnancy
- NuvaRing – a small, flexible piece of plastic that’s inserted into the vagina for three weeks and taken out during the fourth week to provide birth control
- The contraceptive patch – a thin, beige piece of plastic that you wear on the skin of your stomach, upper outer arm, rear, or upper torso — only needs to be changed once a week.
- Diaphragm – a dome-shaped, silicone cup that’s inserted in the vagina before sex to prevent pregnancy — needs to be used with spermicide
- Depo Provera shot – an injection that typically suppresses ovulation, keeping your ovaries from releasing an egg — received every three months
- Nexplanon implant – a small rod inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm to provide birth control — invisible and prevents pregnancy for up to four years
- Hormonal and non-hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) – a small, t-shaped piece of plastic inserted into the uterus to provide birth control
To figure out which kind of birth control is right for them, students may attend a free consultation with the sexual health and wellness coordinator. This can be done through the student’s MyUHC portal under “Schedule Appointment.”
You can obtain FREE emergency contraception.
Levonorgestrel emergency contraception pills, commonly known as the morning-after pill or Plan B, are also available for free from the health center pharmacy. The brand of emergency contraception pill currently available for free from the health center pharmacy is Plan B One-Step.
Those who wish to pick up EC at the health center do not need a prescription to do so and people of any gender and/or age can pick it up for themselves or others. Morning-after pills are meant to be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex, but they can be taken up to five days after. This type of pill is more effective the sooner it is used.
Ella, the most effective type of morning-after pill, according to Planned Parenthood, is also available from the pharmacy but requires an office visit and prescription.
Plan B One-Step and similar brands are less effective for people who weigh 155 pounds or more, according to the health center. Ella is less effective for people who weigh 195 pounds or more.
Emergency contraceptive pills are also sold at campus convenience stores for $15, which is typically cheaper than when they’re purchased off-campus.
You can obtain a pregnancy test.
Pregnancy tests may be scheduled with a health center provider by calling 301-314-8190. The provider can offer results, referrals and information regarding available support services. Also, the UHC offers walk-in urine testing at the lab and over-the-counter home pregnancy tests at the pharmacy.
In addition, the health center provides some free urine test kits to the HELP Center, and some on-campus convenience stores sell these.
Pregnancy tests work by detecting the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone produced during pregnancy, in urine or blood.
You can obtain STI testing.
One way students can be tested for sexually transmitted illnesses is through a free self-test kit provided by the health center. This test kit is only for those NOT exhibiting symptoms. It includes HIV, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia testing. Students may choose to pay for a rapid HIV test ($51) that provides next-day results or additional Gonorrhea and Chlamydia testing sites ($28). Testing sites for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia include urine, throat or rectal.
Asymptomatic students may also schedule an appointment to get tested with a health care provider by calling 301-314-8184 and explaining they are not exhibiting symptoms. If a student is exhibiting symptoms, it is recommended they schedule an appointment to be seen by a health care provider at the health center through the MyUHC portal. STIs that the health center can test for include:
- HPV (genital warts)
- Hepatitis B & C
If a student has any questions regarding STI testing or is unsure which testing option is right for them, free STI testing consultations are available with the health center.
You can get the HPV vaccine.
An appointment to receive this injection can be made through the MyUHC portal.