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. Let me put that into perspective for you.
At age 12, I was in year 7, I’d just passed my SATs.
At age 12, I’d not long been able to walk to school on my own.
For 12-year-old me, my biggest concern was fitting in. My friends were obsessed with boys and you’d get your best friend to go up to the boy you fancy to ask them out for you.
Any form of ‘relationship’ I may have had with a boy consisted of holding hands on the way home from school.
This Morning’s debate discussed the use of the implant as a solution to teenage pregnancy, but didn’t bring up any other issues. That’s why I’m here.
When I was 12, I didn’t even know what a penis looked like, let alone where to put it. Contraception was the last thing on my mind. 12-year-old me was more bothered about the latest cinema release or what I would wear to the school disco on Friday.
Today, I spent the morning chatting to women on twitter about the age at which they started contraceptive methods and how it affected them.
I am aware and completely understand that 12-year-olds today live in a totally different world to 12-year-old me eight years ago. 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. You remember what being a kid was like; you think you know everything about everything and in reality, you know the bare minimum. I remember one of my friends thinking a blow job was ‘when you blow air on his willy’.
Okay, so maybe 12 year olds these days are a bit more clued up than we were. At 12 I hadn’t long stopped playing with Barbie. How ever more mature young teens are, should their schools or clinics be giving them implants, without parental consent, for the purpose of sexual contraceptive as a first port of call?
Bare in mind that condoms are already freely available for young people who are sexually active. Freely providing the implant to younger girls could in turn promote underage sex.
There is a major lack of sex education and information available about contraception.
I didn’t have a sex education class until I was 14 years old. We learned how to put a condom on a big blue dildo and were given a brief explanation on STI’s. It was essentially ‘hey kids, use a condom or you might get clap, okay?’ With not much else to it.
Did I know what the pill was? no. Did i know what the implant was? no. Did I know what the coil was? no.
I was not educated about any forms of contraception in school.
There is a stigma around young girls using contraception, in that they must be sleeping around.
I went to the doctors over my acne, in the hopes that I could use the contraceptive pill to battle it. This wasn’t an option for me as I suffer with migraines with aura. In using the pill I could increase the risk of having a stroke.
That was the end of contraception talk for me, until I turned 18 and was in a relationship with Jake.
The lack of education on contraceptives is shameful, and schools should be educating both girls and boys about different forms of contraception, how they work, their side effects and what may be best for them.
If 12 year olds are given the opportunity to have the implant, then sex ed should be stepped up, provided earlier, and be more in-depth than what it is.
My personal contraceptive choice.
I suffered heavy, long periods with excruciating pain. they would last 7-9 days and I was taking mefanamic acid for the pain. In December 2015, I bled for an entire month. Heavily. Something was severely wrong and I was absolutely terrified. I had a gazillion blood tests to try and figure out what was wrong, but as a result of the bleeding, I was anaemic.
The stigma surrounding periods crippled me. I didn’t dare go to the doctors. Periods aren’t an illness, and you feel like you should just man up and get on with it. When I finally plucked up the courage to go to the doctor, he suggested the depo. I wanted to use it in order to regulate my periods or remove them completely.
I’ve now been on the depo for over two years, and I’m glad that I quickly found a contraception that works for me and my body. I have gained weight, yes, but thankfully in all the right places. I do have mood swings, usually when my depo is due, not too dissimilar than when I was due on my period. You know when you burn your toast and cry, then come on your period the next day and you’re like ‘oh, that’s why I’m an emotional wreck’.
Some girls aren’t so lucky.
Do you really want to put young girls through the mental health hell of contraception?
The implant is an invasive contraception. I’ve heard so many horror stories of infected implants. Not only this, but, you can easily just stop taking a pill in order to retake control of your body. You have to get your implant surgically removed.
Contraception has clear links with anxiety, depression, weight gain, skin issues – are these all problems that 12 year olds need on their plate?
I feel that, if a 12-year-old wants to consider contraception for reasons other than sex, then natural strategies should be promoted first. Then educate them about their different options. I feel pills should be the next step, and invasive treatments such as the coil and implant should be a last resort.
I wholeheartedly believe that these girls should have a choice to to what they want with their body, but I also feel it should be a. Fully informed and b. Cause as little stress and side effects as possible for children of that age.
Contraception methods work differently for everyone. One girl may be fine on the pill, whereas it can cause another girl to feel suicidal. The same goes for every contraceptive.
If I had a headache at school, I’d ask at reception, who would then phone my mum to ask if I could have paracetamol.
Why on earth would they feel comfortable providing children with the implant without parental consent?
I understand that contraception is a very personal thing, but at 12… you should probably be asking your mum – not so much for permission but for advice.
I took my mum to the doctors with me to discuss the use of the depo.
Let’s say a 12-year-old goes ahead and gets the implant without telling anyone. They faint at home and mum hasn’t got a clue why. Mum can’t tell the paramedics that they have an implant because she doesn’t know.
I guess what I’m trying to get across is the following points:
- 12 years old is incredibly young. I held a twitter poll in which over 50% of those who voted started contraceptive methods aged 16-18
- The lack of sex ed and education on contraception needs seriously improving in schools
- If 12 year olds do want to look into contraception for other reasons than sex, they should be fully informed, using the least invasive methods first
- Mental health in young people needs to be considered. Would it be ethical to insert an implant into someone so young knowing the possible side effects of depression and anxiety?
- The stigma around periods and contraception is shocking. These are issues that need to be talked about
- Of course there are circumstances, usually medical, where you may have to use contraception such as the implant for your health
This post in no way is attacking anyone for their choice of contraception or their reasons for doing so. I am incredibly happy for anyone who has found a method that works for them.