Ask WIT

Welcome to our Ask WIT questions and answers! Below you will find questions submitted by fellow GVSU students that have been answered by the Wellness Information Team (WIT) Peer Educators. We have categorized them into general wellness, sexual health and nutrition.

Have a question for WIT Peer Educators? Fill out the Ask WIT form anonymously and find your answer here in 3-5 days.


General Wellness

We recommend setting some boundaries. It can help you to prioritize and to say no to things that don't fit your emotional, mental or physical space right now.

  1. Be assertive - A way to help keep boundaries? Be clear and nonnegotiable in what boundary you set. But know, when you first set boundaries (with others or yourself), you may want to lead with kindness and compassion - some people may be unaware that was a boundary you had and were not intentionally trying to harm you. Though you always have a right to react as you feel. Also, you might not be great at keeping your own boundaries yet, so be kind to yourself.
  2. Learn to say no - Know that you can say no without providing an explanation. And the best way to learn how? Practice. Practice in a mirror, practice on "easy" nos, role play with roommates or friends!
  3. Protect your space - Schedule your time and stick to it (and make sure it includes rest time, too!) And don't be afraid to use "Do Not Disturb" on your phone.
  4. Get support - If you are having a difficult time setting boundaries or if people keep violating them, you can always reach out to a trusted individual for help

Sexual Health

Great question! We are going to share some common things that an alumni suggested might be important to know. Here’s the Oral Birth Control Breakdown. (We’re also working on a blog post about contraception in more depth, so be sure to check out our blog regularly!)

  • How do they work? Oral contraceptives work by stopping ovulation. The pill contains hormones (progestin and estrogen or progestin-only) that keep the egg from releasing, so the sperm has nothing to fertilize.
  • How do I get birth control pills? In order to get oral birth control, you will need a prescription from a doctor or nurse at the doctor's office, a health clinic, or Planned Parenthood.
  • How do I know which pill is right for me? There are many different brands of birth control, each one affecting the body a bit differently. It is crucial to talk to your doctor or a health care provider about what option is best for you, because everyone has a unique body, and situation.
  • When do I start them? You can start them any time - you don’t have to start on the Sunday like most of the packs do. Some pills packets even come with little stickers to help you keep track of the days. Just be sure to take the pill at the same time every day (you can take it anytime of day that fits your schedule!)
  • So what do you do when you miss a pill? We suggest reading the instructions on your prescription first, but most commonly: if you miss one dose you double up the next day and don’t have to use back-up contraception like condoms, if you miss more than one dose, you need to use back-up.
  • How do I pay for birth control pills, especially if I don’t want my parents to know and I’m on their insurance? With the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most health insurance companies have been required to cover birth control at no copay in their plans. If you are on your parent’s insurance you can call the insurance company and ask them about what happens after you make an appointment (ie. do they send an explanation of benefits that will show the service?). You can also ask your healthcare provider about billing for health insurance. They have lots of experience with this exact thing! You can also choose to not use your health insurance, it will likely cost between $15 and $50 a month.
  • Will antibiotics stop the birth control from working? In most cases, no. The only antibiotic that is currently known to interact with birth control is rifampin. You can use backup contraception (like condoms) for more protection and peace of mind.
  • What is emergency contraception and is that the same or different from birth control pills? Emergency contraception are methods of contraception that can be used to prevent pregnancy after sex. Birth control pills are taken every day to prevent pregnancy before sex. Emergency contraceptives can be taken for up to five days after sex, but are more effective the sooner you take them
  • What do I do about spotting or breakthrough bleeding? Spotting and breakthrough bleeding are common for many people who take oral birth control, especially in the first three months of use or when you switch prescriptions. The best way to stop breakthrough bleeding is to consistently take your pill at the same time each day. Though this does not work for everyone, consistency is key. If you have a fever, increased or severe bleeding, or bleeding that lasts more than 7 days in a row, contact your doctor.
  • Should I be concerned about blood clots? The rate for getting clots while on birth control is 0.3%-1% for women* on birth control.  There is no reason to worry too much, but it is important to be aware of the side effects, just in case.  Most commonly, blood clots start in the legs and cause symptoms like pain, swelling, heaviness or cramping in the leg. *For more info about birth control effects on cisgender and trans men take a look at this article.
  • Will I gain weight? Weight gain is a common and often temporary side effect of starting birth control. This is due to fluid retention, which is an accumulation of fluid in body tissues (muscle and skin) and cavities (basically, fluid filled organ holders.) Some people gain around 1-4 pounds within the first month or so of taking birth control. They also tend to lose the weight within 2-3 months, after the side effects of new birth control wear off.

First, we want to say there is nothing wrong with you! Lots of people have experienced the same thing that you are going through. There are plenty of reasons that someone might have never felt sexual pleasure before. In fact, here is a great article from Scarleteen that goes over a lot of reasons.

Here’s a few thoughts we have that you might consider exploring:

  • Communication is huge! Have you talked to your partner(s) about what you like or don’t like? What feels good or doesn’t feel good? About expectations or concerns or embarrassment? We have a great list on our website of things you should talk about! Knowing ahead of time can make it more comfortable for everyone. (And comfort level can play a big role in sexual pleasure!)
  • Knowing what you like and want is so important. Have you written down a list of things that make you feel good? Have you done any self-exploration like self-pleasure (masturbation). Often times when we are new to sexual experiences, we don’t know what we like unless we try it. It can be easier to practice on ourselves. And as we said before – it’s super important to communicate with your partner(s) about what you like and want!
  • Try lube if you’re a person with a vagina (or having sexual intercourse with a person with a vagina)! Lube can help with reducing pain or irritation and make sexual activity slicker, slipperier and sometimes safer.
  • It’s also really important to remember that sexuality is so different for everyone. Sexuality is huge and can be about our bodies, our hormones, our feelings, our gender identity, our sexual orientation, our relationships, and our culture. For example, some people are asexual and may experience little to no sexual attraction. And while they may (or may not) have sex - they may also experience, or not experience, sexual pleasure. Like we said, it’s so different for everyone!

Again – know that you are not alone! And if you have any more questions – the students are happy to answer them.

Great question!

We have several resources right on the Student Wellness website for learning more about sexual transmitted infections (STIs). The Sexual Health Facts page provides some of our favorite trusted resources on STI information.  Or you can check out the Get Yourself Tested page which shares information about what to expect from an STI test and where to get tested locally, including our monthly testing in collaboration with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.

Nutrition

When talking about things like “The Freshman 15” it’s important to remember that health looks different for everyone, including people's weight. There is no “right” way to transition to the university environment. This is good! It means that there are lots of options and you can choose what works best for you personally. There are three main things you can do to prioritize your health during Freshman year:

Listen To The Experts

The recommended daily amounts for the 5 food groups are recommended for a reason, it’s an easy way to make sure your meals are balanced and that you are getting all the nutrients you need. The biggest thing is to make sure to eat three meals a day. This will already put you on the right track to eat the recommended amounts of the food groups. 

MyPlate.gov recommends:

1-2 cups of fruits - try to choose whole fruits

1-3 cups of vegetables - make sure there is variety in the kinds of vegetables you choose

3-8 oz of grains - at least half should be whole grains

2-6.5 oz of protein - if you are very active you will need a bit more than this

3 cups of dairy - low or fat-free is a healthier option, non-dairy options are also a good choice

Switch It Up

Variety is key. Different foods have different nutrients in them so it’s important to eat varied meals throughout your day and your week. Take this as an opportunity to branch out and explore the options available on campus. Who knows you might find a new favorite.

Stay Active

According to the CDC physical activity can lower your risk for diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Staying active helps maintain proper blood pressure which can also prevent disease later in life. This may seem pretty far down the road but it’s key to prioritize activity throughout your whole life. Physical activity can also boost your mood, help with focus, relieve stress, and improve sleep.

The CDC recommends 150 minutes per week. That’s 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. It doesn’t just have to be traditional exercise either. Anything that gets you moving and raises your heart rate will work.

Staying healthy during college doesn’t have to be daunting or difficult. Play around, figure out what works for you. You don’t have to get it right on the first try and you don’t have to figure it all out alone. There are many resources here on campus that are here to help like Campus Dining, RecWell or University Counseling Center.

Thanks for your question. Here are a few resources we think will be helpful:

Allergen Station Information - This site has many of the allergen resources in one convenient place.

Food Guide - This PDF outlines where on campus there are allergy accommodations.

Student Allergen Form - This form is a request for special dietary accommodations.

Campus Dining Dietician - We have an on-campus dietician that can help navigate campus dining options.

 


*Please note that submitted questions will be reviewed by RecWell staff members and may be edited or denied if the question is defamatory or obscene, causes panic, uses fighting or threatening words, incites crime or demeans or harasses another individual or institution.

**Ask WIT is an educational service only. We do not provide health recommendations. The information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to substitute for the advice of health care professionals. If you need specific health recommendations, please consult an appropriate professional. Any third-party resources are provided as a convenience for informational purposes only. Neither Grand Valley State University or its Recreation & Wellness Department endorses or approves any of the products, services or opinions of the entities or individuals associated with these links. Grand Valley State University and Recreation & Wellness bear no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of any external site associated with the links provided or any subsequent links.