Thursday, 26 April 2012

The pill to be given to girls as young as 13...

I've seen this line appearing all over the place today, Twitter & Facebook as well as the news pages. 

This is my two cents on the subject...

It's completely pointless.

First, you have the health implications.  Does a 13 year old girl know her family history?  At 13 I was completely unaware that my family has a history of breast cancer, something that taking the pill can increase the risk of.  Or that on my dad's side there is a history of high blood pressure.  How many other girls are in the same boat?  I actually didn't find out about either of these things until I was pregnant with Meg and I asked my mum.

Not to mention my own experience with the pill, I have tried at least eight versions...all of which have had negative side effects.  The last one I was given actually gave me permanent PMT and my OH thought I'd lost the plot for a while.  Without ongoing discussions with my GP, I would never have thought to try other pills or even other contraceptive methods.  How will these girls get that advice?

Secondly, if a teenager is going to run the risk of having unprotected sex (in terms of pregnancy risk) I think they will carry on regardless of where they can get the pill.  I can see the logic in suggesting that young girls would be more likely to go and get the pill if they didn't have to make an appointment but really, if they are having sex then it should be an informed choice, made by someone who is mentally and emotionally mature enough to be having sex.  For that person I don't think it would be difficult to make an appointment with their GP and obtain a prescription.  The ones who aren't able to make that sound judgement call are probably not likely to get the pill at all, wherever it's offered.

And I'm confused about how 'they' think a private appointment with a GP is less favourable than asking in a public place for the pill.  If these teenage girls are too embarrassed to go and see their GP how will getting it over the counter be less embarrassing?

According to the article I read on BBC news, the scheme will have to meet certain guidelines:

"These include that the girl is able to understand the advice of a health professional, and the likelihood she will start having sex regardless of whether she gets access to contraception."

How on earth can a pharmacist make that kind of judgement?  I personally don't hold out much hope for my local pharmacy.  When Eli was on his various medications for his reflux I would often be left waiting for 15-20 minutes before the bright spark faffing around at the back (supposedly getting my prescription) would come and ask me what medication I needed.  And I was on repeat prescription!  I can honestly say I wouldn't trust him to offer me sound medical advice.  Nor would I want to disclose my personal life to him.  He looks like something from the dark ages.

Further to this, they say that:

"The health professional must always encourage a young person to talk to their parents or another trusted adult about their sexual health."

Erm, if that was likely to happen then surely they would already have spoken to a trusted adult...who would have advised them to go and see their GP in order to get the pill?

I honestly don't see this as the answer.  To me it's like we're saying "yeah, sex is nothing, go ahead and best of all, you don't even have to tell anyone."  Young girls need to be educated, to be taught that sex is a HUGE deal, not something to be taken light heartedly. 

And more than that, we need to keep communication lines open.  Maybe I'm just looking at this situation through the blinkered eyes of a parent...I truly hope that when it gets to that stage of her life Meg feels that she can come and talk to me.  It would break my heart to think that she was sneaking off to get the pill without me even knowing about it. 

Rant over...

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