by Karen Nordstrom
The University of La Verne’s Health Center now offers an informational class meant to educate students on topics such as birth control methods, types of sexually and non-sexually transmitted infections and breast self-examinations.
The class is required for female students having their yearly pelvic examination or who are seeking oral contraception, but, according to Kathryn Walter, director of health services, the class is open to anyone for educational purposes.
“It’s an educational class primarily,” said Walter. “I even have guys who come into the classes.”
After taking the class, students are given a separate physical, followed by a personal, confidential conference.
“We have a much more receptive attitude (than other means of obtaining a pelvic exam or oral contraceptives),” Walter said. “Patients aren’t treated like a number. They know the physician, and he is very receptive to this developmental age. The students develop a rapport with me, which can also help in a time of crisis.”
Walter designed the program during the summer while working on other educational programs.
“It has been very beneficial to the students. It’s been much more intensive, with much more one-to-one feedback,” she said. “I have people in the class who are not sexually active. Every young woman should have a pap smear at this age.”
The class, which includes instructions on breast self-examinations and a seven-minute video informing students on the types of birth control and the side effects of oral contraceptives on some people, takes less than 20 minutes to present, but may take longer depending on the discussion that takes place afterward.
“I answer a lot of questions. You’d be surprised at the information they’ve learned from non-professional sources,” Walter said. “In most cases, it helps to have another student there.”
Students who have already been receiving oral contraceptives from the Health Center will still be required to take the class.
Walter said the responses from students have been positive. “The students that have come in have learned so much, and at the end, they’ve said, ‘Thanks, that’s really helped me.”‘
The classes are kept small, with five people or less, sometimes as few as one.
But there has been a negative response among some students.
“I think it’s important that before a woman goes on the pill, she is informed about certain things,” said senior Jenny Bauer. “But she should have the choice whether she wants to be in a classroom situation or a private situation, because your privacy can be violated in a class situation.
“If someone is already on birth control, they shouldn’t have to (attend the class). (Birth control) should be one of the services that the University Health Center offers in complete privacy and convenience, and it’s not that way anymore.”
Walter said students who feel uncomfortable taking the class have other options: Planned Parenthood in Upland offers birth control at a low cost and the Pomona Health Department offers it free.