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.

“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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  • invalid-0

    Wait a minute.  You’re more terrified of being a grandmother within the next decade than you are of your daughter having sex in her tweens?  Is that really the bigger concern to you?  

     

    Excuse me, the “much” bigger concern.

    • diana84

      I thought a tween was a young person between the ages of 8-12, isn’t it? I just wanted to clarify that Robin said she would be worried about her early “teen” daughter having a child. I know that isn’t a big age difference from 13-14, but I thought I would make that correction if in fact that’s what a tween is…..

  • jrm83

    If she’s not old enough to be having sex, then it makes sense that she wouldn’t be old enough to raise a child.  Additionally, getting pregnant that young means that her body might not be mature enough to handle a pregnancy, meaning there would be greater risks to her health.  She’s not saying she wants her daughter to be having sex at that age.  She’s saying that if her daughter did, she would rather her daughter be safe than end up with an unintended pregnancy or an STD.

  • squirrely-girl

    Being worried that your tween is having sex but using contraception is one thing, while your tween getting pregnant is an entirely different set of circumstances. I think of that as the “lesser of two evils.”

     

    I know it’s difficult for some people to process, but not all sex has to result in a pregnancy. While I would prefer that my tween wasn’t sexually active, I for one would be much more concerned about an actual pregnancy than otherwise protected sex. 

  • amanda-marcotte

    You make it sound like being a grandmother within the next decade is mutually exclusive from her daughter having sex as a tween. Do we need to explain where babies come from?

    • invalid-0

      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.

      Your absolutely hilarious jibe aside, Amanda, our author here states very clearly that she is more concerned about being a grandmother than she is about her child’s sexual activity.

      For example, “The idea of my child playing with matches scares me, but not as much as the idea of having to pay for funeral costs.”  I think we all understand causation here, Newton.  I was drawing attention to the fact that the author seems more concerned about potential child-rearing (or procuring an abortion *cough*) than the fact that her tween is having sex.

  • prochoiceferret

    our author here states very clearly that she is more concerned about being a grandmother than she is about her child’s sexual activity.

     

    Yes, I’m sure all you anti-choicers would rather see your babies having babies of their own rather than your babies having non-baby-making sex. After all, that’s just more warm bodies you can drag to your local Planned Parenthood protest!

  • bornin1984

    You have bigger issues to worry about.

  • bornin1984

    ^

  • prochoiceferret

    You have bigger issues to worry about.

     

    Possibly. She could be in an abusive situation, contract an STD, become unwantedly-pregnant, or be at risk for any of these outcomes. Not much different than if she were 15, or 17, or 25.

     

    Apparently, however, Arex seems to think that this 13-year-old daughter having a baby isn’t all that big a deal, as opposed to the *gasp* *horror* SEX!

  • colleen

    I was drawing attention to the fact that the author seems more concerned about potential child-rearing (or procuring an abortion *cough*) than the fact that her tween is having sex.

    Barely pubescent girls don’t “have sex”, they are raped and statistically speaking the younger the girl, the greater the age difference between her and her rapist. Statistically speaking the rapist is almost always someone she knows and, most often, is a family member or someone in a position of authority like a *cough* priest. Thus if one’s ‘tween’ is pregnant there is a great deal more to worry about than the fact that she is “having sex”.

    Likewise if a barely pubescent girl is pregnant a parent who cares about her welfare would naturally be more worried by the pregnancy. One of the reasons that men should not put their penises inside the vaginas of little girls is because pregnancies in barely pubescent girls are dangerous and can kill little girls or disable them for life.

  • saltyc

     

     sexual activity is also associated with an increased tolerance of abuse, there is some research to show this, which I as a mother am more worried about than an pregnancy. I think it’s more difficult for a young person to get out of an abusive situation than a pregnancy. Also the social ramifications of sexual activity are another set of challenges for a young person to maneuver through, more difficult than a pregnancy that will end in a simple abortion.

  • mechashiva

    I’ve never understood the argument that younger teens shouldn’t be given contraception because they shouldn’t be having sex in the first place. I’ve also never understood the argument that younger teens shouldn’t be given contraception because being protected against pregnancy makes them more vulnerable to abuse. The former is pointless moralizing that will only result in “bad” kids being exposed to greater risks. The latter is an untruth that makes people feel like they can better protect their children from abuse (or at least be better able to spot it).

     

    “Bad” kids – If younger teens are engaging in consensual sex with each other (no matter how ill-advised anyone might consider their decisions), they should have full access to contraception and barriers.

     

    Abuse – The public needs to be educated on how to recognize symptoms of abuse so that there isn’t a reliance on pregnancy being the primary sign of sexual assault.

     

     

     

  • bornin1984

    No, I mean if your thirteen year old daughter is having sex, that is a much bigger issue then whether or not she becomes pregnant or contracts an STD.

  • saltyc

    I’ve also never understood the argument that younger teens shouldn’t be given contraception because being protected against pregnancy makes them more vulnerable to abuse.

    I hope I didn’t come across saying that I would not gve contraception with the intention of preventing abuse, I was just saying there are worse ramifications to sexual intercourse than pregnancy, because I hear about the fear of pregnancy a lot, which is not the worst that can happen. That’s not a reason to withhold contraception, I still would be more worried about abuse than about pregnancy, and there are ways to help prevent abuse too, and that part doesn’t get addresses as much.

  • ch

    enough for contraception if you are old enough to conceive.

  • arekushieru

    To clarify, I am only speaking to the point that the abuse is something someone should be more concerned about.  I absolutely believe that, like CH said, that any girl who is able to conceive should have access to contraception and access without having parental notification required. 

    I would think unwanted pregnancy and the scariness and fear that that can inspire in prepubescent girls would exacerbate an already abusive situation out of all proportion, especially if she is too afraid to go to the other parent for fear they will inform the abusive one, thereby escalating the abuse.  If you are trapped in a so-called “Red State” (and considering one of the most recent threads even some “Blue States”) that would limit your options even more and would only make things worse, I would think.   

  • mechashiva

    Oh, yes, I got that from your post. I was making a more general reply to the original post.

  • grayduck

    You people are missing the point of the guidance. The issue is whether to “simply prescribe the contraceptive pill” or to offer the much less error-prone long-acting methods in addition. The evidence shows that the long-acting methods are vastly more effective at protecting against unintended pregnancy across a wide spectrum of women than are birth control pills. Whether or not certain young teenagers should be offered contraception, just giving them an ineffective method of contraception does not make any sense.

  • saltyc

    Yes and Arekushieru is right too, that a climate that is so restrictive that it will withhold BC is also one that abuse would be exacerbated. Because a child rebelling from parental authority is also more likely to stick with an abusive relationship.

     

    I just think the other ramifications of teen sex need to be addressed more, even more than worries about pregnancy and birth. I mean, if my daughetr were pregnant at 13, there would be no question but that she’d have an abortion, I just can’t imagine her wanting to have a baby that badly, I would have not raised her well if so. And we would be very open and supportive with that, so in my mind it’s not a big deal. I think the author did mis speak when she said being a grandmother to a 13-year old is more frightening than just her having sex, I honestly would be more concerned about why she’s having sex that soon.

  • arekushieru

    GrayDuck, if you didn’t notice, we are all responding to aREX’s original point, y’know a fellow PLer of yours?