News is raging around the internet this week regarding a teen who had a contraceptive implant put into her arm at school, without her parents consent. She is is one of 33 schoolgirls who have been fitted with the device in Southampton as part of a controversial government initiative to help lower teen pregnancies.

Since we now know that abstinence education doesn’t work, this does seem like an interesting step in a new direction…

How contraceptive implants work

A contraceptive implant consists of a 4cm thin flexible tube that is inserted under the skin of the upper arm by a specially trained nurse or doctor. It releases the hormone progestogen to stop the release of an egg from the ovary, thereby preventing pregnancy.The implant works for three years before it needs to be replaced and is 99% effective.

The teenage girl give her side of the story

The implant works really well and I think it is a good service. ‘I think it has really helped me because if I am with my boyfriend and we feel like having sex, I have the peace of mind knowing that I am OK. ‘

At the time I didn’t want to tell my mum because there are some things you don’t want to talk to your parents about.’

Her mother on the other hand wasn’t as pleased when she found out. Although she expressed pride about her daughter taking initiative to prevent pregnancy, she was shocked that a 13 year old girl could have minor surgery at school without parental consent.

The teen did have an hour long consultation with a health expert and was instructed to tell her mother. A week later she had the implantation and was told that she could schedual a follow up appointment if she had any questions.

Her mother expressed concern about the follow up visit not being mandatory. Which seems like a pretty reasonable request.

The NHS Southampton and Solent NHS Trust has said the number of teenage pregnancies has dropped since the sexual health service was introduced. Although parental consent would be ideal, the thing is that some teens just aren’t comfortable talking to their parents about sex. Isn’t it better that they are protected against pregnancy than being punished for not having the courage to bring up sex with their parents? I think so, what about you?