How Young Is Too Young For Contraception?

Robin Marty

Medical advisors in Scotland are encouraging use of long-term birth control at earlier and earlier ages. But how young is too young for contraception?

An interesting and heated debate is occurring in Scotland, where the Clinical Effectiveness Unit of the Faculty of Reproductive Medicine is encouraging general practitioners and health clinics to consider talking to teen girls, including girls as young as 13 years of age, about long-term birth control methods like implants and injections.

The Daily Express reports:

The guidance, from the Clinical Effectiveness Unit of the Faculty of Reproductive Medicine, states doctors should “highlight the benefits” of long-lasting injections, coils and implants to teenagers, rather than simply prescribe the contraceptive pill.

Girls as young as 13 can be given the long-lasting contraceptives without their parents’ knowledge, provided the GP has no concerns about child abuse or exploitation. Dr Louise Melvin, a Glasgow-based medic and author of the guidance, said: “We wanted to highlight the fact that long-acting contraceptives are cost-effective and more likely to reduce unintended pregnancy, to promote choice and appropriate use of contraception.

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“The contraceptive pill is good for some people, but for individuals who are not good at taking a pill, long-acting methods are better.”

Although the country is seeing a slight decrease in overall teen pregnancy numbers, they are also noticing an alarming increase in teen pregnancy in girls age 14 and younger.

The move toward increasing contraceptive access has generated heated debate regard what age is too young to be eligible receive contraception.  From condoms in schools to HPV vaccines, the argument always involves one side claiming that such moves corrupt young teens and encourage illegal sexual activity, while the other advocates that in some communities, young adolescents are already engaging in sexual behavior and it is necessary to assist young women in preventing pregnancy and protecting their health.

Is 13 years-old too young for contraception?  It’s hard to say.  I think we can all agree that 13 years old is too young to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.  Some argue injections and implants would be easier for a sexually active young teen than a daily method like the pill, although it would not provide the additional protections against sexually transmitted diseases afforded by condoms. 

The mother in me is terrified of the idea of my amazing little toddler having sex in her early teens.  But I’m much more terrified of the idea being a grandmother in 10 years.

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