Contraception and You
Every single one of us should now know how important it is to use contraception when having sex. Not only will it help prevent pregnancy but, as long as we use barrier methods, contraception will also help prevent us from catching any nasty infections.
The thing is if we are under 16, can we still get hold of contraception?
The answer to that is yes. Of course you can. It is illegal to have sex under the age of 16…we should all know that by now! But if you are completely convinced that you want to do it and nothing is going to stop you then at least do it safely!
You can buy contraceptives from supermarkets, chemists, garages or even slot machines in toilets (if you really are that embarrassed). Just make sure that wherever you get your contraceptives from they do display the British Kite Mark on them and they are still in date. The British Kite Mark means that the particular brand has been thoroughly tested and is safe to use.
What about if we don’t want to buy them?
You can obtain free contraception from any Family Planning Clinic, Brook Advisory Clinic, or Doctor.
- Your doctor can prescribe contraceptives for you if you are under 16 and without telling your parents– as long as the doctor believes that you are mature enough to understand what is being proposed. This also includes oral contraception, the pill.
- Family Planning Clinics will also help you if you are under the age of consent. They, like your doctor, will make sure you get the best possible advice before handing you any contraception.
Emergency Contraception is available to prevent pregnancy, after having unprotected sex or contraception failure. It must be taken within 72 hours of the incident and must never be relied upon as your usual method of contraception.
A Doctor, Family Planning Clinic or Brook Advisory Clinic can prescribe this emergency pill even if you are under the age of 16. And again, as long as they feel that you are mature enough to understand the procedures then your parents need not be informed.
You can now also buy the emergency contraception pill from the chemist. However, you do have to be over 16 to purchase this and you will also have a consultation with the pharmacist if you are young. This is only because they will be worried as to why you're relying on this method.
Confidentiality with your doctor
Once you are 16, you can decide about your own health care. Patients also have the right of confidentiality. Nothing they say to their doctor should be passed on to anyone else – not even the fact that they made an appointment.
But what if you’re under 16?
Strictly speaking, doctors don’t usually have to consult your parents. As long as they believe that you fully understand what is being proposed. However, if it were something extremely serious, for example abortion, then your doctor would be concerned if they didn’t inform your parents of what was happening. Usually in a serious case such as abortion, your parents must give consent to the procedure, unless two doctors decide that you are mature enough to understand the decision that is being made and what it really means.
Brook Advisory Centres
Tel: 0800 0185 023
Offers free and confidential advice and counselling on sex and contraception for young people, throughout the UK
Family Planning Association
Tel: 0171 837 4044
Runs a contraception education helpline and can give addresses of local Family Planning Clinics
Gay and Lesbian Legal Advice
Tel: 020 7837 5212
Offers legal advice and assistance to lesbians and gay men
Tel: 020 7881 9440
Campaigns for equality for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals and can provide information on these issues
Remember sex is illegal under the age of 16
The laws stated in this article apply only to England and Wales