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Meg Verner woke up terrified the morning after having sex for the first time because she didn’t know what to do next.“I knew that I could not get pregnant. “You should learn how to file your taxes, you should learn how to take the bus — and you should learn where to go to get birth control.”And her experience isn’t rare.I did not have the money for either a child or an abortion,” said Verner, a graduate student at the University of Georgia and . Students come to college often unprepared to take care of their own sexual health, as many are misinformed or unwilling to discuss the topic.“I grew up in a very traditional Christian family, so I could not tell my mother.”Verner, who first started having sex in college, spent the next three months — and around 0 — using the morning-after pill as her primary form of birth control. And even among educated students, there’s a stigma surrounding safe sex that prevents them from pursuing it in the first place.

“There is a lot of interest at least in preventing pregnancies.”But most students come to college without much education about safe sex practices, including knowledge of different birth control measures or sexually transmitted infection testing practices.“Nobody knows how effective the pill is, nobody knows what types of antibiotics negate the effects of it, they don’t know how it interacts with alcohol — because nobody asks,” Verner said.Angela Suh, a junior management information systems major from Suwanee, said she never learned in a class about IUDs or implants.And since recently switching doctors, she discovered she’s more comfortable discussing these issues with a female doctor.“I feel like there’s a barrier,” she said.“It’s just a little more embarrassing to ask guys.”Verner, a safe sex educator on campus through the University Health Center’s Safer Sex Ambassadors program, said students often don’t think of protection beyond condoms.“We as a culture think that there is just ‘sex.’ Which is just penis and vagina,” she said.“And then everything else is just something else — it’s like foreplay.”Oral sex, she said, often goes on unprotected.“Just about nobody is using condoms and dental dams for oral sex,” she said. For those who don’t, it’s a square of latex While oral sex cannot lead to pregnancy, it can lead to the same STIs.“That’s really something I don’t think people are taking seriously enough at all,” Verner said.Sexually active young adults aged 20 to 24 years are at higher risk than older adults of acquiring STIs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Devonta Smith, a senior psychology major from Sylvania, said some students prefer not to focus on the negative side effects of sex.“They want to have this perfect image of having sex and having a good time,” he said.And Americans ages 15 to 24 make up 27 percent of the sexually active population but account for 50 percent of the 20 million new STIs in the U. “They just fail to realize the ugly side it can have.” Many students pay attention to their sexual health only retroactively, said Beth Smith-Thompson, a physician in the Women’s Clinic at the University Health Center.“If there are students who are neglectful of their sexual health, it’s because they’re not acting proactively to protect themselves.” she said.Students aren’t discussing these issues with their doctors, Verner said.“I reblog this on Tumblr every time I see it — ‘Don’t lie to your doctor about being a ho. They’re just trying to help you ho responsibly,’” she said.“That’s my life motto, is ho responsibly.”When Maryam Marzai, a senior management information systems major from Atlanta, purchased condoms at a store, she received judgemental looks.“I did that one time, and I’m never doing it again,” she said.

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