13-year-old UK girl offered ‘controversy’ contraceptive implant
The teenager is one of 33 schoolgirls who have been fitted with the device in Southampton as part of a controversial government initiative to drive down teenage pregnancies.
Now she has broken her silence to defend her actions, saying she believes she acted responsibly by taking measures to stop herself getting pregnant.
The girl said: ‘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.’
Eventually the young teenager decided to tell her horrified parent.
Her mother said performing a minor surgical procedure at school without parental consent was ‘morally wrong.’
The only contraceptive implant in use in the UK is Nexplanon.
It 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.
It also helps prevent sperm passing through the womb and makes the lining of the womb thinner so it is unable to support a fertilised egg.
The implant works for three years before it needs to be replaced and is 99% effective.
It doesn’t rely on remembering to take a pill at the same time each day.
However, it can disrupt periods during the first year or even stop them completely while it is implanted.
Some women have complained of headaches, acne, nausea and breast tenderness in the first few months of use.
Some research has suggested it may slightly raise the risk of breast cancer. Studies are ongoing.
The daughter said: ‘If I was told I couldn’t have the implant unless I told my mum, I probably would have gone away to think about it and would have eventually got my mum involved.
‘But I think there should be the option to have full confidentiality because some children just can’t speak to their parents.
‘I do get where my mum is coming from and maybe it shouldn’t be done in school.’
She added that she spent an hour discussing the issues of an implant with a health expert at the school and was told to speak to her mother.
She was fitted with the Nexplanon device at a meeting a week later and told she could book a follow-up appointment if she had any worries.
Her mother said she was proud her daughter has taken responsibility to protect herself.
But she is demanding an apology from health bosses at the Solent NHS Trust and a review of the service in schools.
She said: ‘I believe they have neglected my daughter by not making sure she had a follow-up appointment.
‘I want an apology. I know I may not be able to stop this surgical procedure being carried out on school grounds altogether.
‘But, I at least want changes to be made to ensure every girl that has one is given a compulsory follow-up appointment.’
Health chiefs have defended the scheme, saying letters were sent to parents at all nine participating schools in Southampton when the service was launched.
It was then left to individual schools to inform parents of all future students joining, either by letter or in the school prospectus.
The NHS Southampton and Solent NHS Trust has said the number of teenage pregnancies has dropped since the sexual health service was introduced.
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