Sex with a stranger is a common goal associated with spring break across college campuses nation-wide. There are many factors that contribute to the one-night-stand nature of spring break, as students shed their everyday identity for a week to practice hedonism in a foreign location.
Nine percent of men and two percent of women agreed with friends to have sex with someone new during spring break, as reported by the University of Michigan in a survey of 650 college students.
“Spring break is sexually driven in nature, especially because the media promotes it in this way,” junior Dan Sullivan said. “People have this perception that they have to be sexually active.”
It is possible the media plays a role in branding spring break as a time to have many sexual encounters.
Since 1986, MTV has broadcasted live from popular spring break destinations such as Panama City, Cancun and Las Vegas. College students are filmed partying, giving spring break a reputation for alcohol and sexual excess. Also, companies such as Student City book all-inclusive trips packed with day-drinking events and VIP entry into clubs and bars, creating an atmosphere to lose all inhibitions.
“I think it’s a mass peer-pressure environment, especially because everyone’s half naked and most likely intoxicated,” Sullivan added.
The tradition of heavy drinking is one of most prominent factors contributing to promiscuity.
“Alcohol is almost always a part of the equation,” said Dr. Phillip Brewer, medical director for Quinnipiac’s Student Health Services. “Massive groups of people are all egging each other on to have a good time, which is synonymous with getting drunk. The very word party is synonymous with getting drunk.”
According to Brewer, many students feel the “time compression” effect, meaning they feel like they have no time to waste. Therefore, they remain in a “binge-state”: a night of binging is followed by a day of hangover, and then a new round of binging begins. This causes deterioration in energy and judgment.
“When you’re hung-over, your not sober. That’s a misconception people have. Really your body hasn’t recovered,” Brewer said.
The combinations of media pressure, peer-pressure and alcohol consumption leads to bad judgment.
Nearly 50 percent of males and 41 percent of females reported having consumed alcohol just prior to sex. Also, those who used alcohol were twice as likely to have multiple sex partners, according to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Students who drank alcohol were seven times more likely to have unprotected sex, putting them at a high risk of contracting a Sexually Transmitted Disease, according to the McKinley Health Center.
Because many people on spring break do have multiple sex partners, Brewer encourages students to think about how having sex with someone also means having sex with those they have slept with before you.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States. An estimated 2.8 million infections occur annually and approximately 48 percent of cases occur among people between the ages of 15 and 24 years old, as reported in the Journal of American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association.
If Chlamydia goes untreated, the infection can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease. The damage could eventually lead to infertility, according to Brewer.
Although complications among men are rare, infection sometimes spreads to the epididymis, the tube that carries sperm from the testis, causing pain and fever, according to the Center for Disease Control.
“Spring break is definitely a time to let loose and have fun, but I don’t necessarily think that means sleeping with everyone under the sun,” junior Amanda Hegler said.
Junior Abby Blundon says the craziness associated with spring break is unnecessary.
“When people get drunk and sleep around, they are doing themselves an injustice,” she said. “Putting yourself at risk like that is unnecessary. You don’t need to get drunk and have sex to have fun.”