Sex seminar educates U women

Emma Carew

In 2000, 18.9 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases were reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 9.1 million, or 48 percent, occurred in people between the ages of 15 and 24.

As part of an effort to educate young adults on sexual health, the Office for University Women, along with other University organizations, is sponsoring “Speaking of SEX,” a seminar series for female students.

“We respect the choice to be abstinent,” said Claire Walter-Marchetti, Office for University Women director. “But we acknowledge the fact that a lot of young people are sexually active.”

The series began Thursday with “Sexual Myths, Reproductive Health, Pregnancy Prevention,” a discussion covering “what you’ve got and how it works,” said Lindsey Hoskins, community outreach educator for the Family Tree Clinic.

“We feel the combination of University faculty and physicians with community professionals is a good way to present this topic,” Walter-Marchetti said.

About 25 women gathered in Jackson Hall to learn about their reproductive organs and how to keep them safe.

“Some people don’t know where their cervix is,” Hoskins said. “And you should know where your cervix is by now.”

Large diagrams of the female reproductive units, internal and external, as well as worksheets and quizzes were incorporated into the presentation.

Hoskins explained what a healthy vagina should look and feel like.

“A vagina is a very delicate, happy environment most of the time,” she said.

During the second part of the seminar, the women participated in what Jill Farris, a patient advocate from the Midwest Health Center for Women called “Birth Control 101.”

Presenters from the Annex Teen Clinic and the Midwest Health Center for Women showed the audience, in small groups, how to open and prepare a condom for intercourse.

Brooke Stelzer, Health Education Director at the Annex, demonstrated the “three-finger-pinch” to create space at the end of the condom.

Failing to do this is the most common reason condoms break, she said.

Proper insertion of a female condom and the use of spermicide and dental dams were also demonstrated, and many types of hormonal birth controls, including emergency contraceptives, were discussed.

“With a name like ‘vaginal ring,’ you can guess where it’s going to go,” Stelzer said as she demonstrated with one method.

Nursing graduate student Becky Lieber is a public health student, and goes into people’s homes to educate them about sexual health, she said.

“I wanted to see how they educate college students about sex and their bodies,” she said.

Walter-Marchetti said that when she asked the women whether they liked the environment created at the seminar, she received a positive response.

“They said they felt comfortable enough to ask their questions,” she said. “I’d like to see twice this many next week.”