By Grace Dille
The Student Government Association’s (SGA) Health and Wellness Committee hosted a discussion, “Take Control: A Birth Control Town Hall” in Stamp Oct. 19, where a panel of local healthcare professionals discussed a variety of topics regarding sexual health.
Panelists included the UMD Health Center’s sexual health programs coordinator Jenna Beckwith Messman and nurse practitioner Diane Orth, along with health care service professional Felicia Davenport. SGA Health and Wellness Director Rohini Nambiar moderated the event.
Other event sponsors included UMD’s American Association of American Women (AAUW), the Residence Hall Association (RHA), the Panhellenic Association (PHA) and a student-run club, “No Taboo. Period.”
Recognizing that the various options for birth control can be overwhelming, Nambiar said she wanted to start a conversation about them.
“Regardless if you’re male or female, I want you to be educated and aware of all the options,” Nambiar said. “Because let’s be real, it takes two to tango.”
Messman said it is “critical” for both men and women to become informed on these topics.
“Women in their 20’s with college educations are where we see predominantly more of the unplanned pregnancies, which kind of challenges some misconceptions that folks have about it,” Messman said.
Students who attended the meeting were handed a flyer highlighting the various methods of birth control, including condoms, implants, pills, IUDs and emergency contraception.
Panelists repeatedly stressed that there is no “best” form of birth control.
“The best kind [of birth control] is the one that works for your life, the one that you can stick to and the one that meets your needs,” Messman said. “Because if you’re not happy with your birth control, you’re probably going to stop using it.”
According to Orth, the UMD Health Center provides a range of birth control options to choose from, including IUD insertions. “Our goal is to give the facts, and [have] you make the best decision.”
Senior government and politics major and SGA Chief of Staff Cassidy Chassagne said she appreciated how informative and open-minded the event was.
“I like how it wasn’t just being talked at — it was having a discussion,” Chassagne said. “I thought it was really productive and everyone felt comfortable with each other. It was a really open and safe environment.”
UMD’s head of communications for American Association of American Women, Shayna Shor, said she believes one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding birth control is that people fear others will form a “negative connotation of them” or judge them for using it.
“I personally think that your sexual health is just as much part of your health as your mental health [and] your physical health — so I don’t understand why there’s such a taboo around birth control and these types of topics,” Shor said. “I think it’s important that people are aware of all of their options so that way they can make their own informed decisions and figure out how to best take care of themselves.”