Contraceptive pills now as popular as condoms among under-15s
4th November 2013
contraceptive pillsAlthough according to the law they shouldn’t even be having sex to start with, new figures to be published show that the contraceptive pill is now as popular as condoms among under-15s for the first time ever. The figures are part of a report compiled by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which demonstrate an interesting variation in contraception trends and preferences around the country. More teenage girls than ever are now preferring to use oral contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancies, although health experts are still trying to hammer home the important message that condom use should still be maintained to safeguard against the vast number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In March of this, year shocking statistics emerged that showed in the previous three years more than 15,000 under-16s were diagnosed with STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and genital herpes. At the time, Lisa Powers, policy director at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We are suffering in this country from poor sexual health. This is partly down to the fact that we have had generations of people who have not had sex and relationships education in school. Young people are under more pressure than ever before because they do not just learn about sex in the playground, but also on the internet. Young people are not being taught about the dangers of having sex without a condom.” The HSCIC report states that in 2012, around 6,600 young girls under the age of 15, or 39% of those who attended NHS contraceptive clinics, said the contraceptive they used was the pill. In comparison, 6,900 (40%) had used condoms. Usage of oral contraceptives has continued to rise in recent years and have always been popular in older teenage and adult groups. Contraceptive pills such as Dianette and Yasmin are two popular examples, with each also incredibly effective at treating acne and hirsutism. However, it is only now that first the pill is now comparable to condoms among under-15s. For instance, figures from in 2011-12 show condoms as a primary contraception method for 46% of teenagers at the clinics, whilst only 36% listed the pill. Jason Warriner, clinical director at sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, believes it would make sense to have regular STI screenings for those prescribed contraception. He said: “The good thing is young teenagers are accessing contraception services, going on the pill or getting something like the implant. But it is vital to make sure when they start on a form of contraception they are offered an STI screening at the same time and are given advice about using condoms in addition to their chosen form of contraception. It is about using condoms to reduce the risk of STIs and HIV. The key message is for people to regularly get tested, when they change partners and ensuring their partners are tested as well. I would like to see every woman who is on the pill offered STI screening each time they receive a repeat prescription, every three to six months. For girls under 15, they fall within the national chlamydia screening programme, but that only tests for one infection. The key message is about prevention, using condoms to prevent getting an infection and building that around your contraceptive needs.”