Take 5: Contraception in adolescents

2 minute read

Some practitioners find the issue of contraception in underage people disquieting


Some practitioners find the issue of contraception in underage people disquieting but there are very clear legislative guidelines around best practice.

“It is an area of some discomfort for some practitioners,” said Dr Paddy Moore, a paediatric and adolescent gynaecologist and head of contraceptive and abortion services at The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.

“The issue is one of: can the young person make the decision for themselves? And we do have very clear legislative guidelines and criteria.”

A practitioner must be satisfied that it is in a young person’s best interests to use the contraception “either because they are going to have sex anyway or they already are having intercourse”, said Dr Moore.

GPs must also be able to demonstrate that the adolescent understands both the significance of using contraception and how to use the method.

“If they demonstrate the ability to process those things, they are demonstrating that they are a mature-minded and there is no lower age limit at which you may not prescribe if a young person is at risk of pregnancy.”

Parents should not be involved if the GP does not believe it was the appropriate course of action.

“If the young person is asking us not to and we believe that they are competent to make those decisions we don’t involve the parent,” said Dr Moore.

In this video, Dr Moore discusses:

  • What options are available for a young adolescent when it comes to contraception?
  • What are the medico legal issues associated with a very young girl asking for contraception?
  • Is the follow up of young people on contraception different to what is done for older patients?

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