How to take control of your sexual health

Learn more about on-campus resources


(Collegian File Photo)

By Isabel Levin

As the availability of sexual health resources are threatened by the Trump administration and staunch pro-life groups, they must be valued now more than ever. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a leading reproductive healthcare provider in the United States, is used to butting heads with President Trump in defense of those resources, and is seemingly under constant scrutiny. The Trump administration has proposed to cut Title X funding of Planned Parenthood and threatened the reversal of the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee that all health insurance plans cover the cost of birth control. This September, Planned Parenthood appointed a new president who must be prepared to tackle these challenges.

Planned Parenthood has chosen Dr. Leana S. Wen as their new president, making her the first doctor in over five decades to head the organization. Dr. Wen will assume the position on Nov. 12, shortly after the midterm elections. It is no doubt that Dr. Wen’s appointment comes at a crucial time for the organization and that the bar is going to be set high for her performance.

This change in leadership comes with the resignation of Cecile Richards. Under Richards’ tenure, Planned Parenthood saw many changes in the field of reproductive healthcare, including the 2013 FDA decision to make emergency contraception (Plan B) available over the counter for women ages 15 and over and the 2010 Obama administration’s guarantee that all FDA approved forms of contraception would be covered by health insurance plans. For sexually active college students, the availability of these resources is essential to maintaining adequate sexual health.

Unfortunately, the closest Planned Parenthood to the University of Massachusetts is located in Springfield, about a 40-minute drive from campus, so using their services to your advantage may be rather difficult. This location offers all standard Planned Parenthood services, including access to emergency contraception pills and rape crisis counseling referrals. If necessary, transportation to this Planned Parenthood location is available from campus by taking the R29 bus from the Haigis Mall to HTC Bay 3. Once at HTC Bay 3, the P21 bus will take you to Chicopee Center. From Chicopee Center, the G1 bus will take you to the clinic, which is located at 3550 Main Street, Springfield, MA.

Working in Baltimore, Wen successfully sued Trump over his attempt to cut funds for teen pregnancy prevention programs. More recently, Wen has expressed concern over the potential of Brett Kavanaugh, a steadfast pro-life conservative, becoming the next Supreme Court Justice; during her recent appearance on “The View,” Wen expressed disbelief that Kavanaugh considers Roe v. Wade to be settled law.

Because of this, we can expect Wen’s agenda to highlight access to abortion services through Planned Parenthood. Considering that nearly one in four women will have an abortion by age 45, it is vital that women know their options when it comes to abortion services, emergency contraception and preventative contraception. This is especially important when considering a survey in which over 15 percent of respondents claimed to never use protection.

As funding for Planned Parenthood is continuously threatened, it is important to be aware of your on-campus sexual health resources. Plan B, condoms and other corresponding products are available at University Health Services. Although, it must be noted that Plan B is not the right product for everyone. Plan B may not be as effective for users who weigh 176 pounds or more or have a body mass index of 25 or over. This is certainly not ideal considering the average weight of a woman 20 and over in the U.S. is 168.5 lbs as of 2017.

Acknowledging that our student body is inevitably sexually active, UHS provides HIV and STI testing once a month (excluding October) in the Campus Center. The next testing date comes on Nov. 6 from 11a.m. to 3p.m. The full list of dates can be found at Taking advantage of this service is especially encouraged since UMass ranked 11th on a list of the 20 most sexually active college campuses in a study.

Citing these statistics as motivation, UMass Students for Reproductive Justice has taken steps toward making more inclusive emergency contraception available on campus and recently announced a grant received from Planned Parenthood to get the abortion pill on campus. Getting this pill on campus could remove the constraints that Plan B has on user eligibility.

It is no doubt that UHS does a great job offering a variety of services to students. However, they do not specialize in sexual health in as niche of a way as Planned Parenthood does. In order to ensure that you are educated on sexual health and know how and where to access appropriate resources, it is important to stay up to date on Planned Parenthood in addition to available campus resources.


Isabel Levin is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]