Stuff co.nz 4 December 2015
The conversation about birth control is generally not one parents look forward to having with their adolescent children – but it’s nevertheless necessary.
So how early should parents start getting their kids on to some form of contraception?
“The general idea is to have it before it’s needed,” says Family Planning national medical advisor Dr Christine Roke.”
There’s no minimal age, but there are cautions so I suppose that anybody who is under 16 even we just want to think twice about, and under 14 in particular.
“And if they happen to be under 12 we want to be working out why we would be not reporting them if they’re having sex at that sort of age.
“We wouldn’t be starting hormones before they had their first period unless there was some very pressing reason.”
The most common form of contraception for females is the pill (some take it for other medical reasons), but intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants might be more convenient. And, of course, condoms are always recommended.
Students start learning about puberty in intermediate school, where contraception is brought up and then explored more in secondary school, said Roke.
DON’T JUMP THE GUN
Family First director Bob McCoskrie said parents need to think about the messages they are sending to their child before giving them contraception.
“By putting people on contraception you’re sending an underlying message that you’re expecting them to be sexually involved.
“It would be better to talk to them about good reasons to wait, and the consequences of not waiting.”
Putting your child on contraception prematurely is “a bit like running across a busy road – do we say to our kids ‘don’t run across a busy road’ or do we say ‘look here’s a helmet, that might make you a little bit safer’.”
As a father of three teenagers, McCoskrie was aware that every family will be different. Values, maturity and “realism” should be taken into account.