Contraceptives no quick fix
7:30 AM Monday Jul 6, 2015
Dr Tania Pinfold
Making sure young people have access to choices around contraception, the ability to access it for free and to do so in a place they felt comfortable, are all keys to preventing unplanned pregnancies, according to a youth health doctor.
Rotovegas Youth Health clinical leader Dr Tania Pinfold said a proposal to fit all young women with long-term contraceptives before they started having sex wouldn't work as it didn't address the wider messages around safe sex and respectful relationships.
"I don't think you can make anyone do anything," she said.
University of Otago academics have called for a free contraceptive programme to be made available to teens before they become sexually active. In the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Neil Pickering, Lynley Anderson and Helen Paterson said teen pregnancy placed significant costs on the individual and society.
Dr Pinfold said there was "no doubt" that unintended pregnancy could be a crisis.
"We know that some young women have trouble remembering to take the pill properly, or getting their contraceptive injection every three months. [Long acting reversible contraception] are almost fool-proof protection from pregnancy."
She said the availability of long-acting reversible contraception had added a reliable option to contraceptive choices for women of all ages.
"Whatever the contraception choice might be, medical educators still continue with critical messages about protection from sexually transmitted infections. Teaching young people how to make safer choices and negotiate respectful relationships is essential."
Dr Pinfold said parents would always have a key role in keeping their young people safe.
"They mustn't avoid conversations around sexual health, and need to stay involved in the lives of their young people as they become more independent."
She said Lakes District Health Board figures from the 2009/10 financial year to the 2012/13 financial year showed both births, and terminations for under 20-year-olds had dropped steadily.
Dr Pinfold believed a decision to fund around 900 Jadelle long-acting contraception insertions in under 24-year-olds in the past five years had an impact.
The rods, inserted into the arms, last about five years.
"It is a very good number. Lakes has the highest rate of anywhere in the country."
- Rotorua Daily Post
by Rebecca Malcolm