Sexual assault and IPV in the queer community: the community’s response to harm

SDS: This is the final week of our three-part guest post on sexual assault and intimate partner violence in the queer community. And one last time, we’re going to light our candle as we hold this topic with the care and compassion it deserves. So far in this series, we’ve talked about various experiences of harm within the context of queer community, as well as factors that can impact a person’s access to resources. But today we want to talk about the role of the community in responding to harm, sexual assault or intimate partner violence. We’ll offer some steps that we as community members can take both to prevent harm and to make our community safer for those who have experienced harm.

BJG: Community itself is such a precious resource. Community takes on many forms and can provide so much to an individual: affinity, support, connection, fellowship, and even the possibility of discovering companionship. As we mentioned in our first post, for a small community, it’s quite possible that you would come to know many other members by face at least, if not also by name. A small community is “where everybody knows your name.” This is true not just for the BGLTQ community, but many others on campus, such as religious groups, cultural affinity groups, and shared-interest groups.

SDS: Cheers for that great description, BJG. Experiences of harm can jeopardize access to community, as we’ve touched on before. Think of all of the places where the queer community gathers on campus. It can be harder to avoid a person if they’re at the same dances, community mixers, in the same student groups, or attending the same kinds of courses (take ‘Women, Gender, and Sexuality’ classes, for example). “Will the person who harmed me be at the next party?” “Will I have to see them at club meetings?”

BJG: Other members of the community may be drawn into this experience as well. For example, hearing about another person’s experience of harm can bring up painful memories for someone who has had a similar experience in the past. Likewise, someone who has experienced harm, or someone who has caused harm, may reach out to a friend to process that, and to figure out what to do next.

SDS: That raises another issue. When everybody knows your name, it can feel like everybody knows your business, too. Unfortunately, when harm occurs between members of the same community, that information can travel quickly. The community can begin to feel quite small, and privacy can be hard to come by. It can be really difficult when community members take sides; whether or not they were there, and whether or not they were privy to what took place, people can form opinions.

BJG: Speaking of opinions, there may also be concern about how this all affects perceptions of the queer community. There is a sad history of homophobia and transphobia that has led our community to be portrayed in a negative light. Addressing sexual assault and intimate partner violence as a problem could feel like pathologizing the community, feeding into the narrative there is some particular vice or sickness at the heart of the community. Even for the two of us, naming all of these very real issues that people experience within the queer community feels a bit like airing our dirty laundry, or unearthing something that is better buried. But there’s a pernicious way that this harm gets perpetuated, and normalized, when we don’t encourage ourselves and our communities to reflect and talk frankly about what we can and should be doing better as a community. In many ways, silence hasn’t helped us.

SDS: Sometimes, the only way to root out these problems is to address them directly, as difficult or uncomfortable as that may be. We as a community should be thinking about these issues all the time. And that goes for members of any community, big or small. Before anyone names harm, we should already have created space to support them. It shouldn’t feel like someone naming harm is “rupturing” the community, because there should already be an open and consistent dialogue on harm. This is something that every community should aspire to.

BJG: Community also has a role to play in healing and prevention. This can take the form of willingness to intercede when you notice controlling or predatory behavior, or indications of harm. It can mean checking in on friends and others around you in social settings, particularly when alcohol is involved. It can mean respecting people’s privacy, and not spreading information or rumors as gossip. And because you never know if, or when, someone will reach out to you for help, it can mean being familiar with the resources that exist on campus to support those who have experienced sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and other forms of harm. These are all expectations that community members can set for one another.

SDS: Ultimately, that requires people to reflect seriously on the question, How do we want to treat people in our community? And how does that reflect our history and our values? We think about this a lot in the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, and we’re so glad for the opportunity to share these reflections on queer community, resources, and access over the past three weeks. We hope it’s encouraged you to think about your role in helping to minimize the barriers to accessing resources, and creating communities where people feel safe and take responsibility for one another. Finally, we invite you to hold onto this flame, and be a light for someone around you. Come stop by our office at 7 Linden St, or visit us at our new location in Grays Hall starting in January. See you around campus!

Sheehan Scarborough, Director of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life

BJG, Undergraduate Intern ("Quintern") in the Office of BGLTQ Student Life

Sexual assault and IPV in the queer community: finding support and affirmation after a harmful experience

SDS: Thanks for joining us for week 2 of 3 in our (the BGLTQ Office’s) guest post series. Just as we did last week, we’re lighting a candle to both acknowledge and center those who have experienced harm.

BJG: So, last week we talked about the context of queer communities and relationships and how that plays a role in how harm is experienced. As part of that, we explored some of the factors that might impact how individuals within the queer community access resources - factors such as outness or the size of the community. This week, why don’t we dig a little deeper into that and think more about how this affects someone within the queer community after they’ve experienced harm.

SDS: I think it’s so important to recognize that sexual assault can be an incredibly isolating experience. As we mentioned last week, shame, fear of retaliation, one’s degree of outness, and concerns about whether you can trust people to believe your story can all lead a person not to share what they’ve experienced. I’m reminded of the many people in the television and movie industry who’ve recently spoken out about their own experiences of assault, some going back as far as decades. That’s a long time to hold on to that pain. As difficult as it has been to hear these stories of sexual assault, it’s encouraging to see that people are using this opportunity to call for systemic change. Part of changing the culture around sexual assault and harassment means working to destigmatize the experience of harm.

BJG: It’s important for queer people to receive affirmation and acknowledgement of their experiences of harm. This goes hand-in-hand with the affirmation of the people and relationships that reflect a wide variety affections, intimacies, identities, and orientations. In short, to affirm and acknowledge harm, we must also affirm and acknowledge the people experiencing that harm.

SDS: That’s really well said, BJG. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of systems, such as homophobia and transphobia, that lead queer people to not feel accepted or affirmed. Can you speak to some of that, in your experience as a student?

BJG: Sure. The lack of education about gender diversity, the struggle to find all-gender bathrooms, the required gendering of first-year housing, assumptions that people will make about a person’s sexuality, and the ways gender and sexuality are included and not included in curriculums can all make queer students feel excluded and powerless on campus. To solve these structural problems, it’s not enough for individuals to just not be openly homophobic or transphobic. The default on campus and in society in general is homophobia and transphobia, so those outside of the queer community must put in extra effort to oppose those defaults and create an inclusive space. In addition, queer students’ experiences within the Harvard queer community may not always be the most affirming. Is the queer community accepting and diverse? What intersections of identities are represented at queer events? How can we avoid forming exclusive cliques within the community?

SDS: You’re so right. While we as a Harvard community strive to be inclusive and affirming of all genders and sexualities, there are reminders that we still have a long way to go. Part of our work in the BGLTQ Office is to educate the campus (staff, students, and faculty) about gender and sexual diversity, and to create space for building community across the various identities that we hold as queer people. But this is only part of the work. It’s also important to have people who are easily accessible and available when students want to speak with someone who they feel will understand their specific experience as a queer person. In regard to sexual assault, all of the staff and interns in the Office of BGLTQ Student Life are trained to be able to serve as a confidential resource. And every house and yard has its own BGLTQ Tutor or Proctor to serve as a local resource for queer students. While BGLTQ Tutors and Proctors don’t have confidentiality training, they are a great source of support and advice, and can help connect students with other resources on campus.

BJG: I’m actually on staff for Contact Peer Counseling, and we’re confidential undergraduates trained to listen to and understand the experiences of queer students on campus and provide information on additional resources. Queer Harvard students who have experienced harm are welcome to visit Contact or call us during our drop-in hours. Some students may also want to turn to their queer peers, such as friends or classmates, for support. For students who don’t want to access official campus resources, queer peers can be their first point of contact for getting support.

SDS: And let’s not forget that there are other great resources that aren’t queer-specific, but which are definitely queer-friendly and queer knowledgeable, such as our friends and colleagues at OSAPR; Emily Miller, the College’s Title IX Coordinator; the Bureau of Study Counsel; and Response Peer Counseling. This isn’t an exhaustive list! You can learn about these and other resources in the links we’ve provided below.

BJG: We hope that this has been a helpful start to a conversation about the aftermath of harm and how queer students who’ve experienced harm can access resources on campus for support in the aftermath of a sexual assault. We hope you’ll join us again next week when we’ll explore the ripple effect that sexual assault has on members of a small community.

Sheehan Scarborough, Director of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life

BJG, Undergraduate Intern ("Quintern") in the Office of BGLTQ Student Life

Additional Resources

Sexual assault and intimate partner violence in the queer community

SDS: Many thanks to the folks behind the Sexual Literacy project for inviting us as guest columnists today! We’re glad to have the space to speak to some of the concerns that have come up for the queer community in regard to sexual assault and intimate partner violence, or “rape culture” generally speaking. I want to “light a candle”, so to speak, to be mindful of those who have experienced this harm. We’ll try to hold this flame with care and respect as we move forward. But to start off, perhaps we should clarify who/what are we referring to when we talk about the “queer community”?

BJG: Sure! The queer community is made up of people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or any other identity that is not straight or cisgender. It’s important to note that not everyone within the community identifies as queer, and people can hold multiple LGBTQ+ identities, such as being transgender and pansexual. Even amongst LGBTQ+ people, there is sometimes doubt as to whether it’s a “community” in the traditional sense, as there are a variety of identities and experiences that fall under this umbrella, and everyone doesn’t experience the same sense of connection to others in the group.

SDS: That’s right. It may be more accurate to talk about queer communities, plural. No two communities look the same, or have the same needs, or even advocate for the same rights and resources. But in general, there are some features that are consistent across communities: for example, they tend to be small, “where everybody knows your name”. Access to community isn’t always guaranteed, and this can depend on where a person lives and how open they are about their queer identity.

That said, when we talk about sexual assault or intimate partner violence in the queer community, we’re not talking about a new or heretofore unseen form of harm. Rather, it’s the same old, pernicious harm, but played out in a particular social and cultural context. It’s important to acknowledge that.

BJG: There are a variety of features that generally impact relationships in queer communities. There can be pressure for the relationship to look perfect or live up to a certain standard, particularly since the small size of the community can lead to fewer examples of what a relationship can look like. The smallness of the community can also lead to “two degrees of separation” so to speak, where others in the community are all aware of the relationship and the partners in the relationship have many mutual friends. There can also be relationships in which partners meet anonymously, particularly for those who are not out. All of these features can impact someone’s decision to communicate their experiences in their relationships.

SDS: Even if we just look at something like outness, for example, it makes sense that a person who has concerns about being perceived as queer may not share everything about their relationship with those who under other circumstances might be considered confidants. In reality, this can also prevent people from reaching out for help from offices or organizations that support those who have experienced the harm of sexual violence or assault. There are lots of reasons why a person would not want to openly identify or be identified as queer: for example, out of fear of reprisals or stigma, for safety reasons, because they haven’t decided or aren’t sure that they do identify as queer, or even because the language and labels (gay, bi, trans, etc) just don’t fit their experiences. This also applies to the language we use to describe those who experience harm: “survivors” and “victims”. The question for some people becomes, ‘Does this apply to my situation? If the language doesn’t apply, then is this a resource or a support system that is actually made for me, with my experiences in mind?’

BJG: Beyond the barriers for reaching out for support, barriers also exist on the other end by the offices and people who are supposed to be in a position to provide support, such as police officers and counselors. It can be invalidating for someone to have to explain themselves more than once or justify their situation, because others don’t trust it at face value or their situation doesn’t seem to fit the typical mold, or the stereotype. A person could also have concerns about their situation being given the care and attention it deserves, as prejudice, transphobia, and homophobia often lead people to dismiss queer experiences.

SDS: Wow, I’m glad this is just the start of this conversation. There is so much more to say! Next week, we’ll continue this conversation and consider the role that community has to play in supporting those who have experienced harm. As people who identify as members of the queer community, we’ve tried to shed light on an uncomfortable topic while also holding these experiences with sensitivity. Just as we lit the candle at the start of this post, we’ll carry it with us over the next two posts as well.

Sheehan Scarborough, Director of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life

BJG, Undergraduate Intern ("Quintern") in the Office of BGLTQ Student Life

For Further Reading:

My partner and I have found that often when we’re trying to have sex, he has trouble keeping an erection. What could be causing this and how do we figure out how to meet each other’s needs?

AG: Thanks for the thoughtful and nuanced questions! This is a pretty big topic with a lot of different implications so we’re going to spread our answer over two weeks. Today we’ll be discussing different types of desire and some of the physiology that contributes to or inhibits erections. Next week we’ll go into more detail about factors that can inhibit or excite sexual desire as well as the norms shaping these situations. We’ll end by talking about the importance of communication in these situations!  

AA: Thank you again for this question. It can definitely be a hard one to ask and not something we talk very much about in our society, even though it is very common. According to a 2000 study, 43% of women and 31% of men report some sort sexual dysfunction.  Even in looking at the language used to describe this type of concern, there is potential for better reflecting the prevalence and therefore normality of this type of experience. The more we can begin to normalize these experiences the more we can reduce the stigma and isolation that people may feel regarding these concerns.

AG: In today’s society there are many gendered norms about sexual desire. One pervasive norm is that all male bodied individuals have spontaneous desire, where they can instantaneously feel sexual regardless of the context, and that all female bodied individuals have responsive desire where they need to be in a sexual situation in order to feel sexual desire. While these may be true for many bodies, it is really important to remember that all individuals at any given time experience a different mix of things that contribute to desire.

AA: This is such an important point to make regarding sexual desire and how that can play into arousal. I will also note that erections for male-bodied individuals are affected by a number of factors. These can include being aroused in the sexual experience, as well as blood flow to the penis upon stimulation. Male-bodied individuals who experience difficulty maintaining an erection may not be getting the necessary amount of blood flow to the penis. There are a number of things that can contribute to decreased blood flow to the penis; use of alcohol and other drugs, medications one may be taking, high blood pressure, and some other medical conditions.If you feel that one of these factors may be attributing to an inability of maintaining or achieving an erection it would be best to consult a medical professional.

AG: All of these factors aside, the context of a sexual experience also directly shapes arousal and desire. Even if both people are excited about each other and the idea of having sex, other things can be contributing to your state of mind that might be preventing an erection. For example, if your roommate had walked in on you and your partner once then worry about that happening again might be distracting and could possibly prevent an erection. So many things can contribute to this such as an upcoming exam, a fight with a friend, thoughts or concerns about your body, and much more. The list is endless and looks different for each person at any given time.

AA: This is a great beginning to the conversation and next week we will explore more, so stay tuned for next week’s blog post.

Is it weird that a lot of single sex groups vet members of the same sex at parties but don’t seem to do the same for members of the opposite sex? What can people do to encourage equity?

AG: Hey and thanks for reaching out to Sexual Literacy! These questions are coming at a timely point where Harvard is talking a lot about inclusivity, social spaces, and single-gender organizations and I think people on campus are trying to navigate how to best encourage equity. I want to start just by validating that yes, it is weird. It can be really awkward to show up to a party you thought was open with a group and have some people turned away at the door because of their gender.

ML: Absolutely--if you’re planning to go out with a group of friends and suddenly you can’t all go into a party together, it can embarrassing and frustrating. Historically, single-gender institutions were founded as such over a century ago with the idea of providing men and women with separate social outlets in college. Over a century later, these same institutions oftentimes follow these antiquated practices despite a changed environment in which they exist, lending itself to extremely heteronormative behavior.

AG: We don’t mean to entirely bash on these organizations. I know many people who are members that have gotten a ton out of their involvement. People find communities, comfort, and yes--places to party, in these groups. I also don’t think that people in these clubs are making these heteronormative decisions out of spite. Rather, often I think that it choices like this can come from a well-intentioned place (for example, trying to reduce the club’s liability in letting individuals they do not know into the club) but in practice are more problematic.  

ML: As a member of a single-gender organization myself, it’s really difficult to question the institution to which you belong. There are many benefits of joining these organizations--from new friendships, alumni connections, and even parties--however it is also important to be able to look at how your group operates and seek change when you feel something is wrong or outdated. It can also be difficult to make these changes when other members or chapters of your organization do not agree, however I’ve felt from my own experience that working to show others what you and your group prioritizes is more important than any resistance you may face.

AG: So going back to your second question, I think that small changes like letting both genders in at the door or having events cosponsored across differently gendered organizations can go a long way. Obviously these doesn’t change the institutions on a national level but working from the bottom up is often a powerful way to enact change.

Neither of us had a condom and it killed the night, what could we have done that would still have been safe?

AA: Thanks for the question! It can be frustrating if you both are wanting to have the type of sex that might involve safer sex supplies and y’all realize you don’t have any. However! This definitely does not have to kill the night--there are so many other fun options that you and your partner(s) could explore.

AG: If you are concerned about not having a condom because you’re trying to avoid pregnancy then some options include: oral sex, mutual masturbation, playing with sex toys, cuddling, intimate talking (which seriously can be really sexy!), kissing, massages, watching or reading ethically made erotica, or any other forms of outercourse! This list is certainly not exhaustive but can be fun places to start. They’re also just all great forms of foreplay or fun alternatives if you aren’t wanting to have the type of sex that would involve safer sex supplies.

AA: It is important to note that some fun-sexy-play-time activities may transmit STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). A really great way to offset this is to regularly get tested for STIs if you are engaging in any form of sexual activity. You can check out the CDC recommendations for how often a person should get STI tested. STI testing is free for all students at HUHS.

AG: It is also important to maintain open and honest conversation with your sexual partner(s). This includes conversations about pleasure, health, wants, needs, non-negotiables, and shared responsibility for practicing safer sex.

AA: There are many places on campus that provide free external condoms. You can find a map of current locations here. There are also a few places on campus that also supply internal condoms, oral dams, non-latex condoms, and lube. These location are the Health Promotion Office on the 6th Floor of HUHS and the Harvard College Women’s Center in Canaday B.

AG: I think also sometimes in heterosexual relationships it’s easy to put the responsibility for external condoms on the man. However, in all relationships, when having equitable and safe sex, it might be worth negotiating shared responsibility regardless of gender identity.

I watch a lot of porn, is that something I should be worried about?

AG: Hi everyone! Last week we started answering this question by talking about some of the messages that can be portrayed in mainstream porn and this week we’re going to shift towards some of the impacts that these messages can have on us.

AA: If a person becomes accustomed to watching a specific type of niche pornography they may find difficulty in relating to sexual encounters in their own life. This can be seen through problems becoming aroused and for male bodied individuals ED (erectile dysfunction). Any sexual interaction that does not match the niche pornography they have been watching may no longer create arousal and/or an orgasm in their body. This person may no longer find satisfaction in sex that they once found arousing.  Frequent mainstream porn watching has also been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and anti-social behaviors.

AG: One facet of the often exploitative nature of porn that we mentioned last week is that there is frequently little communication, especially about consent or pleasure. If someone grows up learning about sex through porn, they may think that it’s less essential to check in with their partner about feelings and pleasure before, during, and after the sexual interaction.

AA: Some of the messages can carry beyond a sexual experience into everyday life. The imbalance of power represented in many forms of pornography can have a negative impact on how vulnerable or at-risk people are treated by those who are engaging with mainstream porn.

AG: As we mentioned last week, porn is not inherently problematic, and it is of course an incredibly personal decision regarding porn’s effects on your life. I think that being aware of some of the more negative messages in porn and the impacts these can have is an important piece of evaluating this question.

AA: If you have decided that you want to change your pornography habits there are a variety of options to begin changing your behavior. Here are a few:

  • Reduce the amount of pornography you are watching;

  • Change the type of porn you are watching to a less graphic or exploitive option;

  • Limit your porn viewing to only with an equally interested partner;

  • Speak with a professional about your porn use and the way it is impacting your life

AG: If you do not wish to change your porn habits, as with any media consumption, it is always important to think critically about the similarities and differences between the representations you’re viewing and the experiences you’re having in real life.  

Amanda Ayers

Health Educator

AG
Student

I watch a lot of porn. Is this something I should be worried about?

RC: That’s a super thoughtful question; thanks so much for writing in!  First of all, I want to name that this is a really subjective thing and only you can determine whether or not watching a lot of porn is something to worry about.  I think what we can do in our response, which we will spread over two weeks, is to provide some basic information about porn exposure, the messages and norms most mainstream porn tends to communicate, some common outcomes or impacts of frequent porn watching, and some potential next steps if you are considering reducing your consumption.

AG: First, we want to note that there are many different kinds of porn available many of which depict completely different types of sex. For example, some types of amateur porn are created by people who use pornography to share their sexuality and appreciation of eroticism. However, when wondering about possible negative impacts of porn consumption, it is important to recognize that many forms of mainstream porn can be problematic.  

RC:  One common critique of many types of mainstream porn is that its creation is often extremely exploitative of vulnerable or at-risk people and reinforces problematic patterns of objectification and fetishization of people who are not heterosexual cis men.  Often even porn that is labeled as porn created by or for anyone other than heterosexual cis men is structured in such a way that it is clear that it has been created by and for the male-gaze.

AG: Following this exploitation and objectification, most mainstream porn is also created in such a way that it depicts clear and unequal power dynamics, often between a dominant figure and someone else.  

RC: Often, mainstream porn presents types of sexual interaction and sexual intercourse that is not reflective of the ways in which many people engage in sexual activity in the real world.  Because of this, often people who watch a lot of porn report that their expectations of sexual interactions are not mirrored in their personal sexual experiences.

AG: With this unrealistic depiction, most mainstream porn simply shows sex in a way that is physically unsustainable. Within the industry, many people actually develop significant health problems as a result of this kind of sex.  

RC:  All of this matters because the average age of initial internet porn exposure in the US is 11 years old.  This is a key developmental window, during which people are working on understanding themselves in relation to others, both psycho-emotionally and physically.  Compounding this is the likely onset of puberty.  

AG: Often the messages about sex, power, and relationships that someone would see when watching most mainstream porn are not discussed either in an educational setting or in other spaces. This can lead to a disconnect between expectations and reality, the impacts of which we will further explore next week.

RC:  All this being said, we do want to reiterate that there are some types of porn that are characterized by equal power dynamics and deep mutual enjoyment of the sexual and/or erotic interaction.  Porn is not inherently problematic and as we said at the beginning, no one can know how watching porn is impacting you other than yourself.  If you want to contact someone with any concerns or questions, please reach out to us and we will be happy to help you find an appropriate resource.

AG

Student

RC

Ramsey Champagne

Community Advocate, Office of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response

Where can I get Plan B?  How does it work?  Will I notice feeling different than usual?

AA: This is a commonly asked question, so I’m glad you’ve brought it up. Emergency contraception (EC) is available at the HUHS Pharmacy, located on the 1st Floor of HUHS. You can get to the Pharmacy by entering into the Smith Campus Center through the 75 Mt. Auburn Street entrance. Don’t let the construction deter you from entering, HUHS and the Pharmacy are still open.

AG: A lot of people think of EC as “Plan B” but Plan B is actually just a brand name. You are also able to get EC at HUHS Urgent Care which is in the Smith Campus Center during regular business hours and located at Pound Hall, on the Law School Campus, before 7:30 am and after 5:30 pm, on weekends, and on holidays. Once given EC, if you are asked to take it on site, you can always just say no and take it on your own time after you leave.

AA: Once you’re at the pharmacy, you can walk up to the main counter and ask for EC. The HUHS Pharmacy provides EC at no cost for female presenting individuals. For male presenting individuals, it is still available at a reduced rate of $27.86 (EC can sell for up to $50 in chain pharmacies).

AG: If you’re concerned that your gender expression may limit your access, please know that you can ask for a private consultation room to discuss your options. You’ll show the pharmacist your Harvard ID just so they can quickly verify that you’re a Harvard student, but they won’t record your name or any information about the visit. HUHS provides “EcontraEZ” which is a generic brand of EC and is also a one dose pill.  

AA: One major misconception of EC is that it is an abortion pill. This is incorrect. EC is a high dosage of hormone, in the case of EcontraEZ, levonorgestrel. EC mainly works by preventing ovulation and making the uterus an inhospitable environment for a potential pregnancy.

AG: When taken within a 24 hour window after unprotected sex, EC is 95% effective at reducing the likelihood of pregnancy. Efficacy goes down with each additional day, but EC is still 89% effective when taken within a 72 hour window. After 72 hours, the efficacy goes down quite a bit, however there are other EC options, including the medication Ella or a prompt Paragard IUD insertion (Ella is only available by prescription). These both require a medical visit but act similarly to the EC you can get over the counter.

AA: Everybody reacts differently to hormonal contraception, including EC. If you are precluded from using hormonal forms of contraception for any reason, as AG mentioned you can choose the copper IUD, Paraguard, which contains no hormones. Similarly, this greatly decreases the possibility of pregnancy if inserted within 5 days of the sexual encounter. If you do choose to take a hormonal form of EC some common side effects can include menstrual changes, nausea, cramps, and fatigue.  These effects shouldn’t last longer than a few days, if at all. If these side effects do last longer than a few days please seek the advisement of a medical professional.

AG: EC is not recommended as a regular form of pregnancy prevention. While there are no medical repercussions on health or fertility, EC is less effective at preventing pregnancy than most  contraceptives. That means that the more often it is used, the more likely it is that these statistics will fall on the side of pregnancy. However, it is still a great option!  

Amanda Ayers

Health Educator

AG

Student