Infirmary offers inexpensive contraceptive options

News Editor Kaitlyn Davis

Students can obtain inexpensive contraceptives on and off campus to protect against unwanted pregnancy and STDs.

The “black bag special” is a free bag of condoms available in the lobby of the infirmary, said University Health Services Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Coordinator Laura Garrett in an email.

Students can grab them at their discretion and do not have to go to the front desk to ask for them, she said.

“It is important that students know their decision to access birth control through the health center is a confidential decision between the student and the provider,” said Director of University Health Services Teresa Dawson in an email.

College-aged people are more likely to contract an STD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and make up 50 percent of unplanned pregnancies, according to the Palto Alto Medical Foundation.

College students are notoriously broke, but there are affordable contraceptive options available to them at the infirmary and the Lauderdale County Health Department.

The infirmary also offers a birth control pill called Sprintec for $15, which the infirmary’s staff prescribes if they determine it is right for the student, Garrett said.

“By getting (Sprintec) here, it saves a trip to the pharmacy and can prevent filing the medication through insurance which may help maintain privacy,” she said.

Students do not need to rely solely on condoms because they can slip off or break, Garrett said.

“If you are sexually active, you need to be on birth control,” Garrett said.

Before a student can receive the pill, they will have to take a Pap smear exam if they are 21 years or older and have not had one in the past three years, Garrett said.

A Pap smear exam is a screening test for cervical cancer, according to

The infirmary makes acquiring birth control options easy and convenient for students since it is located on campus, said freshman Kyle Farmer.

While the infirmary only offers birth control pills and condoms, the health department offers those, as well as a wider variety of contraceptives.

Those contraceptives include the Nuva Ring, Depo-Provera injection and implants which all protect against unplanned pregnancy, said Clinic Nurse Supervisor Camonica Graham.

While the contraceptives have a high percentage of effectiveness, choosing a contraceptive depends on the person, Graham said.

“(Birth control) is really individualized,” she said. “If a person can remember to do something every day, they could be fine with the pill.”

If students go to the health department, they could receive birth control for free, if their income is low enough, through the Plan First program, Graham said.

The services the infirmary and the health department provide make birth control more accessible to students living away from home, said freshman Sharell Gary.

“I feel like it’s easier for kids to have it here,” Gary said. “That way they don’t have to go through their parents.”

The Emergence Contraceptive Pill is also available at the health department, Graham said.

“This is not an abortion pill or a birth control method,” she said. “It is a higher dose of hormones used in regular birth control pills to prevent an unintended pregnancy (for) up to five days but (is) more effective in the first 72 hours (after sex).”

Junior Elizabeth Elia said while she will not be using these services because she does not believe in sex before marriage, she does not discourage others from seeking them out.

“I think it’s good for the fact that those who are partaking in those activities can keep from having consequences that they don’t expect and bring a child into this world unprepared,” Elia said.

To utilize these services, students need to call the health department at 256-764-7453 and set up an appointment, Graham said. Students can also contact the infirmary at 256-765-4328.