Contraception for teenagers

This article informs teenagers about contraception and explains their rights, options and which types of contraception are most suitable for teenagers.

Teenagers and contraception

All teenagers have a right to obtain contraception and contraceptive advice from health professionals. While those under 16 will be encouraged to speak with their parents, this is not compulsory. The Family Planning Centre of New Zealand is free to people under 22 years old to encourage them to come forward for advice on safe sex.

Likewise if a teenager under 16 requests a termination of pregnancy (abortion) she will be encouraged to speak with her parents. If she is not able to, she still will be entitled to a termination if specialist health professionals agree that this is in her best interests.

What is safe sex?

Safe sex is sex which minimises your chance of catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from the other person. Many STIs do not have any visible symptoms or signs, so you will not know that the person you are having sex with has an infection.

Infections can be picked up from

  • Penis/vagina sex
  • Penis/anal sex
  • Oral sex
  • Occasionally skin to skin contact of the genitals

The safest sex is abstaining or not having sex at all!

But there are other ways of reducing your chance of picking up infections –

  • Using condoms with water based lubricants
  • Kissing, cuddling, stroking and masturbating (touching your own and each others‚Äô genitals).

Remember that when you have sex with another person you are at risk from any infection they may have picked up from any of the other people they may have had sex with previously …

Sexual health check for teenagers

Once you have had a sexual relationship it is necessary to have a sexual check up to ensure that you have not picked up any infections. If STIs are treated early, they are less likely to do you long term harm (such as chronic pelvic infections, which can cause infertility i.e. not being able to have children).

Encourage your mates to go with you and it won’t seem so bad.

Alcohol, drugs, contraception & teenagers

Teenagers (and adults) are more likely to have unprotected sex when they have had too much alcohol to drink, or are under the influence of drugs.

Here are some guidelines to help encourage a safe approach to alcohol and drugs:

  • Eat a meal before you drink
  • Always pour your own drinks
  • If you are dancing then ask a trusted friend to keep an eye on your drink or leave it within your view
  • Never accept a lift from someone who has been drinking or taking drugs
  • Always keep taxi money or a cell phone handy, to help you get home safely in an emergency (for example, if the person who was meant to be driving you home is drunk)
  • Talk to your parents about ringing them in the night if you are unable to get home safely. They may be cross at the time, but they will respect your judgement in the long run.
  • Set up a text / call function on your mobile phone so you can call your parents even if you are out of credit (eg. Text 2000 by Vodafone).

Useful websites and articles

Family Planning Centre of NZ is free to all people under 22 years of age and is either free or a very small charge ($5) to Community Service Card (CSC) holders of any age.

To find your local Family Planning Clinic in NZ visit- www.familyplanning.org.nz

For information on Condoms for Teenagers, click here

Thinking about going on the pill – visit our article on the Teenagers and the Pill

Paula Skelton

Paula Skelton is a qualified NZ nurse and midwife, a midwifery & childbirth educator and the mum of three lovely girls.

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