Early education about contraception is needed

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7014.1226c (Published 04 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1226
  1. Lawrence Mascarenhas
  1. Clinical research fellow Academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham Maternity Hospital, Birmingham B15 2TG

    EDITOR,--Alex R Mellanby and colleagues' study highlights the importanceof targeted sexual education programmes involving doctors, teachers, and parents in the prevention of unwanted pregnancy in teenagers.1 The rate of teenage pregnancy in Britain is among the highest in Europe and seven times higher than that in the Netherlands despite the similarity in the rate of teenage sexual activity among industrialised countries. Only 40% of American teenagers are reported to use contraception during their first year of sexual activity.2

    At the same time, data suggest that it is possible to improve these statistics by introducing new contraceptive methods as well as by continuing to encourage the appropriate use of existing methods, with intensive counselling of users.3 It is essential, therefore, that appropriate education about contraception is delivered at an early stage by unbiased professionals and is free from public moralising. This should be accompanied by the availability of several choices of contraception to meet a range of lifestyle needs, and in this context long acting reversible methods have much to offer.4

    It would be sad if the only way of policing effective education about, and provision of, contraception was by obliging professionals to directly fund the unacceptable number of terminations of pregnancy.


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