Her Campus educates students on contraceptives

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Her Campus educates students on contraceptives

Jordan Mondell | Staff Photographer

Jordan Mondell | Staff Photographer

Jordan Mondell | Staff Photographer

Jordan Mondell | Staff Photographer

By Andrew O'Brien / Staff Writer

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When Caroline Eddy talks about her southern family’s sex education, it sounds something like Coach Carr from “Mean Girls:” “Don’t have sex … because you will get pregnant and die.”

“That isn’t realistic in this day and age,” Eddy said. “We need to prepare people before it’s too late and they get into a situation where they don’t know how to take care of themselves.”

On Wednesday, Eddy and about 25 other women gathered in Room 548 of the William Pitt Union to hear a panel on the importance of accurate emergency contraception education.

At a panel, Carly Aquilino and Nessa Diab of MTV’s women-oriented comedy series “Girl Code,” as well as Medical Director for Reproductive Health for the Los Angeles Public Health Department Diana Ramos, came to Pitt to dispel some of the misinformation surrounding emergency contraceptive use.

In the United States, state funding supports a range of sex education that leaves room for misinformation and myths about contraception. Aquilino, Diab and Ramos said they are dispelling those myths, specifically those related to emergency contraceptives.

Online college women’s magazine Her Campus, which has a chapter at Pitt, partnered with the pro-contraceptive Perfectly Imperfect initiative to host the speakers.

Eddy, a first-year student and Her Campus Pitt writer, said having a panel discussion about contraception is an important step toward rectifying the United States’ sex education system.

“There’s not a lot of discussion about what emergency contraception does,” she said. “People think that Plan B is an abortion drug.”

According to research on contraception that Plan B One-Step sponsored, this discussion comes at a time when 87 percent of women hold the incorrect belief that all forms of emergency contraception will harm an existing pregnancy. Also, nearly two in five women believe that only ages 18 and older can purchase emergency contraception.

According to a 2013 Centers for Disease Controland Prevention study, from 2006 to 2010, about one in nine women aged 15 to 44 used emergency contraception. Most women who used it only did so once or twice, and women aged 20 to 24 were the most likely to have ever taken it, at 23 percent.

The three panelists continually returned to their core message: Nobody’s perfect, and no one should resent themselves when their plan A fails.

“We all want perfection,” Ramos said. “But there are some things we can control, and some things we just can’t.”

Before the panel began, the two MTV stars identified some of the most damaging myths about Plan B that she hoped to debunk in the discussion. For instance, Diab said many believe that an ID is required to purchase it, and that it only works if you take it before 24 hours pass.

Aquilino added that men can, in fact, purchase Plan B. During the discussion, Aquilino said she held misconceptions about emergency contraception until very recently.

“I thought it was an abortion pill until I spoke to Dr. Ramos for the first time,” Aquilino said.

Ramos stressed the importance of knowing all the facts when it comes to emergency contraception, thus allowing yourself to make an informed decision.

“By getting rid of the myths and misperceptions … and learning the truth, you’re empowering yourself,” Ramos said.

Ramos said the use of Plan B is generally safe, although potential users should check with their medical care providers first to be sure.

Katie Piscopio, senior nonfiction writing major and campus correspondent for Her Campus organized the event. She said she hopes the event will start a meaningful dialogue about emergency contraception on campus.

“College students are an important audience for this message, it’s something people stray away from talking about,” Piscopio said. “People don’t know who to ask about debunking myths — I think it’s important to provide information so everyone feels comfortable making decisions.”

Aquilino, Diab and Ramos told their audience that it’s okay to be imperfect and make mistakes, whether those mistakes are contraception-related or otherwise.

“Millennial women all go through the pressure of trying to fit the image we get from social media, blogs and TV,” Diab said. “It makes us feel like we’re not good enough, but it’s really ourselves we’re hurting the most by trying to be perfect.”

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