Contraception – parental consent??

On Thursday the 9th of Feb 2012 we heard the BBC Radio 4 debate with Conservative MP Nadine Dorries and Simon Blake, chief executive of the Brook Advisory Centre.

‘According to the NHS Confederation, 1,700 girls aged 13 to 14 around the country have had contraceptive implants and 800 others have received injections with the same effect, without their parents’ knowledge.

The claim is that it has helped to reduce teenage pregnancy levels, which are now at their lowest since the early 1980s.’

 – BBC the Today show

Dorries put forward an argument that these girls are too young and that it’s wrong to give them the contraceptive implant or injection without their parents’ consent; parents have the right to know about their children’s sexual activity at such a young age, especially due to the possibility that these girls may experience side effects, for example weight gain or depression.

Simon Blake explained that the issue is more complex than simply whether or not parents have the right to be informed. Brook’s experience in this area has taught them that it is more important that young people can access emotional and practical support if they are having sex and that younger people who do have sex are sometimes those in vulnerable situations. He says that although the health professionals at Brook would encourage young people to talk to their parents’ about contraception – this is not always possible or the best thing to do. Health professional are already making decisions about contraception for under 16’s based on strict guidelines (the Fraser guidelines) which take into account consent and understanding as well as the risk of pregnancy.

This debate is interesting because, for once, Dorries and Brook are not arguing from completely opposing sides. They are both bringing up important points about access to contraception and advice as well as the effects that they can have on young people.

But perhaps what we should be asking is ‘what are the priorities here?’

Is it stopping teenage pregnancy? Is it making it easier for young people who are having sex to get support and advice? Is it making sure parents don’t have to worry about what their children are doing? Or, should we be asking about the side effects of these kinds of contraception?

After all, the contraceptive implant or injection are pretty serious medical interventions which we should know more about as they are now some of the main contraceptive methods offered by the NHS. They also don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections or diseases and can have negative impacts on our health, which is especially a problem when information and advice is not available. For more information on the different kinds of contraception available see or or of course


 What are your experiences what do you think?

2 thoughts on “Contraception – parental consent??

  1. I had the implant put in when I was 17… basically the doctors I saw pretty much told me to get the implant without much discussion of the side effects… I experienced weight gain, breast size increase, depression & a complete loss of periods. I only really realised how bad my experience had been after I got it removed after 3 years, my depression almost completely disappeared, I started to lose weight and my periods are now on a healthy cycle again. I really did not like having so many hormones in my body.

    When I got my implant removed there was massive pressure from NHS staff to get another one put in straight away, without any question if I was having regular sex, if I was even still sleeping with men. I had to say ‘no’ firmly a lot of times. I explained I did not have a regular partner and that I was happy to use condoms on any occasion where I might have sex, explaining that I did not want hormonal contraception as I did not want my depression to get bad again. Even now (almost a year later) every time I go to the doctors about something unrelated to contraception, they make a comment like, ‘you need to get your contraception sorted’ without even asking me if I have intercourse with men. It really makes me angry that they tell me condoms are not reliable enough! Condoms are JUST as reliable as ‘the pill’, and I hate that they spread this myth that because I am in my 20s condoms won’t work for me because ‘my body wants to get me pregnant’.

    I wish doctors would respect my wish to be mentally well, rather than trying to pump my body full of unnecessary hormones.

    I feel like parents could help their children make informed decisions, through personal experiences etc, however I believe that first and foremost teenagers still have a right to patient confidentiality, and their parents should not be involved unless they wish them to be.

    • This is really interesting… I’m so sorry to hear you had such a crap time of it! As a guy, and someone who hasn’t really had doctors talk to them like that, it always really shocks me… although now unfortunately I’ve spoken to quite a few people who’ve had those experiences, but not necessarily with doctors, though maybe with other professionals.

      I kind of feel like that different in understanding based on gender must really mess up our ability to deal with it and change things.

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