Should 12 year old girls be given the contraceptive implant?

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On Monday 16 April, ITV’s This Morning’s debate was discussing whether or not the contraceptive implant should be available to 12 year old girls.

In the past two years, more than 10,500 girls under 16 have been given contraceptive implants on the NHS. The implant is a small plastic device inserted under the skin in your arm in a minor surgical procedure. It releases progesterone into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.

This Morning’s debate discussed the use of the implant as a solution to teenage pregnancy, but didn’t bring up any other issues.

Rachel Halliwell, mother of three said: “I don’t see why anyone would have a problem with this.

“We have a major problem in society with teenage pregnancy and anything that we can do to try and combat that is a good thing.”

Mum-of-two Rebecca Jane disagreed with Rachel, she said: “If my daughter decided she wanted to get her hair cut or her ears pierced, that couldn’t have happened without my consent.

“Equally she could have gone to a family planning clinic and had a device fitted and I’d have known nothing about that.”

Following the debate, Laura Dudley, 34, from Biddulph, said: “I would be mortified if my daughter was given an implant without my consent.

“It just seems so wrong and in a way saying it’s okay to keep things from your parents. I believe it’s important that young girls are able to talk to their parents about anything and that includes getting an implant.”

12-year-olds today live in a totally different world to the one I lived in at the age of 12. They’re living in a much more sexualised society, where their role models are these glamourous figures like The Kardashian’s and the must-watch TV shows are Love Island and Geordie Shore that openly promote sex.

12 year olds these days appear a bit more clued up than we were. However, should their schools or clinics be giving them implants, without parental consent, for the purpose of sexual contraceptive as a first port of call? Or is this simply promoting underage sex?

Bare in mind that condoms are already freely available for young people who are sexually active.

Nakita Halil, chief executive of the Family Planning Association charity, said: “It’s vital that young people, including under 16s, can access free and confidential information and advice about contraception and sexual health.

“Taking away access to contraception won’t prevent young people from having sex, it simply makes it harder for them to make the responsible choice to protect their health.”

At this point, I must stress that the implant does not protect against sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

Stoke-on-Trent currently has the second highest under-18s conception rate in the country at 43.9 per 1,000 15-17 year olds.

The Stoke-on-Trent City Council have proposed a 2016-19 plan to reduce under 18’s contraception by providing better education on good quality relationships and sex education, “with a focus on delaying early sexual activity.”

A lot of young women who have looked back on their sexual health education, and the information on contraceptives available at school, are disappointed with the advice and support they received.

I didn’t have a sex education class until I was 14 years old. We learned how to put a condom on alongside a brief explanation on STI’s. In retrospect, I wish I had been taught more about my contraceptive options. Not just for birth control, but for other medical purposes such as treating acne, irregular or painful periods.

There is a stigma around young girls using contraception, in that they must be sleeping around. Talking openly about contraceptive options in schools would help break the stigma and help young girls make informed decisions about contraception.

Georgia Mayer, 19, from Fenton, said: “I had a very minor session about ‘growing up’ and ‘learning your body’ in Year 6, but nothing about sex and contraception in high school.

“The next time I had sex education was in college at 17, and by then I’d learned everything by myself”.

The implant is an invasive contraception and can come with complications. In this case it will need surgically removing.

22-year-old Chloe Evans, from Brown Edge, had the implant at 18. She had blacked out when the implant was inserted. She said: “It was so strange. The first day I was literally projectile vomiting in my friends house. I was sweating and faint. I was in so much pain and couldn’t lift my arm.

“Once it had healed and was in my system I was vile. I went from being really happy to like Satan.

“Then it was so painful, I had to have it taken out. Literally as soon as it was out and it started coming from my system I was fine again.”

Nexplanon, the drug used in the implant, has a number of side effects. Some of these include ‘depressed mood’, ‘mood swings’ and ‘nervousness’ according to the Nexplanon website.

Chloe said she had become argumentative and behaved out of character as a result of the implant.

The NHS website states: “Some studies show that almost one in four young people will experience depression before they are 19 years old.”
Would more young girls on Nexplanon potentially cause these figures to rise?
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