ID # 17





The Effect of Contraceptives on College Students

A Research Report







Prepared for:                                 Melissa Webb

                                                     AEE 3033 Professor




Prepared by:                                  Trang Huynh

                                                     College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

                                                     University of Florida







October 28, 2005


















T. Huynh

3700 SW 27th Street # E103

Gainesville, Fl. 32608

(352) 271-1470


October 28, 2005


Ms. Melissa Webb

1515 Fifield Hall

University of Florida

Gainesville, Fl. 32609


Attention: Ms. Melissa Webb, Professor for AEE 3033


Subject: Research Report


Enclosed you will find the research report entitled, “A Research Proposal for the Effect of Contraceptives on College Students.”


This report contains the results of the research conducted to determine college students’ knowledge and opinions on the affect of contraceptives. Through a 15-question survey, it was determined that although college students were aware of the concept and the effect of contraceptives, they were not aware of the definition of contraceptives and how to use it effectively.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding this research proposal, please feel free to contact me.







T. Huynh

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences












The Effect of Contraceptives on College Students

By: T. Huynh



            A large number of college students are sexually active, and some with little knowledge of the use of contraceptives. This lack of knowledge sometimes results in unintended pregnancy and/or STDs.  Investigating what these students know about the proper use of contraceptives could ultimately determine their risk of pregnancy or STDs. A large majority of young males and females are sexually active, but there is a time lapse between the onset of sexual activity and the use of contraceptives. College students’ attitudes toward sex seem to have united over the years, yet differences still exist. The current sexually transmitted disease (STD) epidemic in adolescents has led to concern about the potential for the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Factors associated with not using a condom include the number of sexual partners, embarrassment about condom purchases, difficulty discussing condom use with a partner, use of oral contraceptives, insufficient knowledge of HIV/STDs, and the belief that condoms interfere with sexual pleasure (McDonald, 1990, p. 57). Effective, behaviorally focused educational programs are needed to improve condom use and reduce STD/HIV risk. One study indicated that both male and female students desire to be sexually responsible. A large majority of these respondents have favored the use of contraceptives (Lance, 2004, p. 580). In terms of sex differences, females tend to be slightly more approving of contraceptive availability than males. Because of this, it is important to determine how much knowledge college students have regarding the frequency and necessity of the use of contraceptives.




Literature review

Study investigated the relationship of 22 variables categorized as relating to sexual history, relationship, social support, contraception beliefs, and personality factors to contraceptive use by college women and men. The use of effective contraception by both women and men was primarily associated with partner support for contraception; and the choice between oral contraceptives and condoms was associated with frequency of intercourse (Whitley, 1990, p. 307).


The majority of today's college students engage in sexual intercourse, generally with multiple partners. Many of these sexually active students use contraception; many do not. Since students are engaging in intercourse and some are failing to use contraceptives properly or not using contraceptives at all, it is not surprising that 12 percent of college students report either experiencing or being involved in unplanned pregnancy (McCarthy, 2002, p. 5).

Several models of contraceptive behavior stress the concern that young, single women have regarding the negative judgments others might make of them for using contraceptives (McKinney, 1987, p. 235). Contraceptive users were perceived as more liberal in sexuality and values. Although it is important to discuss birth control before having sex, many individuals are embarrassed or feel awkward doing so. Partners who are sexual from time to time or for the first time may not discuss birth control before sex because they fear spoiling a romantic mood (LaBrie, Schiffman, & Earleywine, 2002, p. 145). Talking about contraception implies that sex is going to take place, which may force an individual to face internal conflicts about engaging in sex. Many individuals subscribe to the myth that good sex can only be spontaneous if unplanned and they therefore let sex and birth control remains unspoken.

Partners who share the responsibility for birth control are more likely to use their chosen methods properly, which makes birth control more effective. Reducing the fear of pregnancy makes sex more enjoyable. Another benefit of sharing the responsibility for birth control is that it tends to enhance intimacy in a relationship. Discussing birth control and the mutual decision-making involved in choosing and using a method leads to better communication. A discussion of birth control enhances communication about other sexual matters, such as the role of sex in a relationship, likes and dislikes, and preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Individuals should carry some method of birth control with them if they anticipate that sexual intercourse might occur (Lance, 2004, p. 583).

No individual wants to contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and few, if any, college students want a premarital pregnancy. Accordingly, it should be expected that both parties to a sexual encounter would prefer a contraceptive that would also be a deterrent to STD. The condom meets both criteria, and would seem a logical choice in budding relationships. Despite these advantages, the condom, along with other contraceptives, is not always used by college students. Men, more than women, complain that it diminishes sensual enjoyment (Murstein, 1994, p. 12).

Several studies have compared the sexual behavior of blacks, whites, Latinos and Asians students on college campuses about the affects of contraceptives. A questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of college students, and 1,173 students completed the questions requesting information about their sexual, contraceptive and STD related behavior. It showed that there is room for improvement in the sexual practices related to contraception and STDs. Anal intercourse, with 14.6 percent of students having engaged in it. Condom use was low for vaginal intercourse, and even lower for anal intercourse (Delcampo, Sporakowski, & Delcampo, 1976,  p. 180). Based on an earlier study, it was predicted that age would affect sexual and contraceptive behavior. Older students will be more conservative in their sexual behavior, use more reliable means of contraception, and use it more frequently than younger people (Baldwin & Whiteley, 1992, p. 199).


            A questionnaire (Appendix A) was arranged to give insight into students’ current knowledge concerning the proper use of contraceptives in their sexual intercourse, as far as what contraceptives are necessary for and how often they should use them. Furthermore, it helped to informed students of the current availability of contraceptives and assessed their opinions on the contraceptive necessity and frequency. This survey contained 13 multiple choice, likert scale, and short answer questions. With questions such as: have you ever had sex before, do you use any type of protection, and can a condom be used more than once, etc… The questionnaire were randomly dispersed among 20 students currently enrolled in the fall 2005 Research and Business Writing class at the University of Florida. Data collected from this survey were consisted of the students’ demographics, their current knowledge of the availability, opinions on the necessity of contraceptives, and side effects of the use of contraceptives.


            The investigation for this project came from figures collected from a 15 questions survey. Twenty questionnaires were distributed to students in the fall 2005 Research and Business Writing class at the University of Florida. All 20 of these questionnaires were returned with 18 questionnaires completed, while the other two have two questions remain unanswered. Questions were asked to determine the respondents’ demographics and their opinions on the effect of contraceptives. Seventy-five percent (n=15) of the respondents were female and 25.0% (n=5) were male. The respondents were divided amongst year in school, with 5.00% (n=1) being freshman, 35.0% (n=7) being sophomores, 35.0% (n=7) being juniors, and 25.0% (n=5) being seniors. There were ten different majors represented among the 20 respondents including: criminology, journalism and communication, business, food and resource economics, nutrition, pre-med, microbiology and cell science, event management (recreation and tourism), family/youth and community sciences, and biochemistry.

Sixty-five percent (n=13) of the respondents said that they have had sex before, and 35.0% (n=7) of the respondents said that they have never had sex. When asked in question 1 how often do they have sex if they had sex before, 7.69% (n=1) response daily, 46.2% (n=6) response weekly, and 46.2% response monthly. Of the respondents who have had sex, 40.0% (n=8) used condoms, 5.00% (n=1) used withdrawal, and 20.0% (n=4) used birth control pills. Figure 1 showed the result from question 3 on the questionnaire regarding the respondents’ opinions if abstinence is 100% effective in the prevention of STDs and pregnancy. Of the 20 respondents, 18 strongly agreed with the fact that abstinence is the effective way in preventing STDs and pregnancy while the other 2 respondents were neutral. No respondents disagreed with the fact that abstinence is not an effective way to prevent STDs and pregnancy.

One hundred percent (n=20) of the respondents agreed that oral contraceptives should be taken at the same time everyday. When asked in question 5 about the side-effects of birth control pills, 90.0% (n=18) of the respondents chose the correct answer. One female respondent was on track, but she did not choose the correct answer.  In question 6 asked what the birth control pills protect against, 95.0% response to unplanned pregnancy while one did not answer the question at all, also 2 respondents answered the multiple choices with a yes or no but all they simply had to do is circle the correct answer. This question was a measurement error, because 2 respondents’ response to this question with a yes and no without circling the correct answer, this question needs to be reworded.  

The respondents were asked if a condom can be used more than once, 100% (n=20) response with a ‘no’ as their answers. Another question asked to test their knowledge is in question 8, air should be squeezed out of the tip of the condom before putting it on, 65.0% (n=13) response true to this question while 35.0% (n=7) response false. This means that these 7 respondents do not know the proper use of a condom. Figure 2 showed the results from question 9 on the questionnaire regarding the respondents’ opinions as to what type of contraceptives do they use the most while performing sexual activities.

When asked to define contraceptives in question 10, 50.0% (n=10) of the students have a basic idea of what it means and the other 50.0% (n=10) did not either answer the question or the responses were way off track. Fifty percent students gave a basic idea of contraceptives as an act of or utilizations of a birth control method such as condoms and pills to help against STD or unplanned pregnancy. The other 50.0% (n=10) response as contraceptives are something to “stick up the butt” or left the question unanswered. Question 10 also asked to give one example of safe sex, all 100% (n=20) of the respondents wrote condoms as their answered.


            The information collected from the 18 completed and 2 almost completed questionnaires showed that although college students were aware that it is necessary to use contraceptives during sexual intercourse and the effect of contraceptives, but they were a little restless of the proper use of contraceptives.

The questionnaire in Appendix A was included to determine the students’ opinions on the effects of contraceptives. Of the 65.0% (n=13) of the respondents who have sex before agreed that using protection can help decreased the number of unplanned pregnancies. Ninety percent of students strongly agreed that abstinence is 100% effective in the prevention of STDs and pregnancy, 95.0% of college students know that birth control pills protect against unplanned pregnancy, and 100% of college students know that a condom cannot be used more than once. When asked to define contraceptive, 50.0% of the students were having trouble defining it.

Question 2 and 6 were measurement errors. Question 2 should be reworded in consideration of people who have had sex or never have sex before. Question 6 asked what the birth control pills protect against, 95.0% response to unplanned pregnancy while one did not answer the question at all, also 2 respondents answered the multiple choices with a yes or no but all they simply had to do is circle the correct answer. This question was a measurement error, because 2 respondents’ response to this question with a yes and no without circling the correct answer, this question needs to be reworded. 

As an increasing number of college students involving sexual intercourse, it is important that these students not only know the necessity and availability of using contraceptives, but also know what risks they are exposing themselves to if they do not know the proper use of contraceptives and the effects afterward. The Infirmary at the University of Florida should take on the responsibility to provide literature and discussion groups to the students of the university on the topic of the effects of contraceptives on college students. The students who work at the Infirmary have more access to individual doctors and could incorporate the discussion groups into their regularly scheduled for monthly meetings.  Another recommendation to help keep college students informed on the effect of contraceptives would be to have local community humane societies for students as well as anyone who are interested to learn more about sex education to help make a better choice in life if they decide to have sexual intercourse. During any classes dealing with human sexual activities, a few local humanists should come in and give information on contraceptives including what type of protections are best to use, and what side effects contraceptives could cause if using them improperly.





Baldwin, J., & Whiteley, S. (1992). The Effect of Ethnic Group on Sexual Activities Related to Contraception and STDs. Journal of Sex Research, 29, 2, 189-205.


Delcampo, R., & Sporakowski, M., & Delcampo, D. (1976). Premarital Sexual Permissiveness and Contraceptive Knowledge: A Biracial Comparison of College Students. Journal of Sex Research, 12, 3, 180.


LaBrie, J., & Schiffman, J., & Earleywine, M. (2002). Expectancies Specific to Condom Use Mediate the Alcohol and Sexual Risk Relationship. Journal of Sex Research, 39, 2, 145.

Lance, L. (2004). Attitudes of College Students Toward Contraceptives: A Consideration of Gender Differences. College Student Journal, 38, 4, 579-586


McCarthy, S. (2002). Availability of Emergency Contraceptive Pills at University and College Student Health Centers. Journal of American College Health. 51, 1, 5


McDonald, N.E. (1990). High-risk STD/HIV behavior among college students. The Journal of American Medical Association, 263, 23, 57


McKinney, K., & Sprecher, S., & Orbuch, T. (1987). A Person Perception Experiment Examining the Effects of Contraceptive Behavior on First Impressions. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 8, 3, 235.


Murstein, B. (1994). Sex, Drugs, Relationships, Contraception, and Fears of Diesease on College Campus over 17 years. Adolescence, 5, 7, 12


Sawyer, R. (2003). Knowledge and Attitudes about Emergency Contraception in University Students. College Student Journal, 2, 3, 10.


Whitley, B. (1990). College Student Contraceptive Use: A Multivariate Analysis. The Journal of Sex Research, 37, 2, 305-313