Questions about sex, pregnancy, and STIs at Columbia

Originally Published: April 19, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: December 12, 2008
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Dear Alice,

I was wondering whether you could tell me statistics at Columbia. For example, what is the percentage of people on campus who have STDs? Has this number come down since the University gives out free condoms? How many undergraduates get pregnant each year? What percentage of those undergraduates opt to have an abortion? Can you still live in the dormitory if you are pregnant and you decide to carry the baby to term? How many pregnancy tests do Health Services perform in an average month? Why isn't there a more active campaign on campus to get women in for their yearly check-ups? Does the University carry Norplant?

—JUST CURIOUS

Dear JUST CURIOUS,

While it is impossible to know some of the things you've asked, these are all excellent questions. Have you given any thought to a career in research at Alice?

In all seriousness, some statistics are not known. For example, because Columbia students may take pregnancy tests at home, and because abortions are not a service offered on-campus, it is unknown how many undergraduate students become pregnant or chose to terminate their pregnancies each year. Also, since many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are asymptomatic, and since students may seek treatment elsewhere, Columbia cannot track how many students have had an STI (though we can't resist adding: because students may not know they're carrying an STI, one should always engage in safe and protected sex with new or not-recently-tested partners).

Here are the questions that have definite answers. A pregnant student can stay in the residence halls until she gives birth. Health Services does not offer Norplant to students, as it has been taken off the market. However, a women's health care provider can discuss various contraceptive options to help women find one that works for them. And there are many places around campus to pick up free condoms (although stats about the impact of the free rubbers on students' sexual health have not been collected). You can pick up complimentary condoms at the Alice office or at Primary Care Medical Services. If those places aren't convenient, many Resident Advisors (RAs) stock their floors with condoms and other safe sex materials, just ask.

In addition to free condoms, Columbia offers a wide range of health programs to students. Visiting the Health Services website can fill you in on other services and programs Columbia provides on campus. And while there is no specific campaign to get women on the check-up table, Health Services always encourages women to visit for their annual exams and with any questions or concerns they may have. To make an appointment students can call x4-2284 or log in to Open Communicator.

So inquisitive reader, hopefully this answers some of your questions and inspires you to write us new ones!

Alice