Side effects: A 13-year-old girl said she 'felt like having sex' after having a contraceptive implant fitted at school without her mother knowing
A 13-year-old girl today said she had a contraceptive implant fitted at school without her mother knowing because she ‘felt like having sex.’
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.'
Controversy: The contraceptive implant Nexplanon is 4cm long and is inserted under the skin. It can stop a girl from ovulating for three years
HOW DOES THE CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT WORK?
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.
A spokesman added: 'We have a responsibility to provide a confidential service that ensures young people have access to professional advice and information as well as contraception, if appropriate.
'Full assessments are undertaken to ensure young people are mature enough to understand their choices and are safe.
'School settings offer an opportunity to engage young people in sexual health and relationship information, as part of their overall health and wellbeing.'
They added that the service is fully compliant with national safeguarding legislation and guidance.
As many as 770 pupils have used the sexual health service since 2009.
Teen mother: Solent NHS Trust said the scheme had cut under-16 pregnancies. However family campaigners said it encouraged promiscuity
Campaigners from the Family Education Trust said the implant initiative would give girls licence to have underage sex.
Norman Wells, director of the trust, told Mail Online: 'Schemes like this are giving girls as young as 13 a licence to engage in illegal sexual activity and denying them the protection that the law on the age of consent is intended to give.
'They inevitably lead to boys putting pressure on girls to have sex. They can now tell their girlfriends, "There's nothing to worry about. You can get the school clinic to give you an implant, so you don’t have to worry about getting pregnant. You don't have to face the embarrassment of going to see your doctor, and it's all confidential so your mum doesn't need to know a thing."
'Parents send their children to school to receive a good education, not to be undermined by health workers who give their children contraceptives behind their backs.
'If health authorities are really interested in reducing teenage conception rates and improving sexual health, they should be looking for ways of discouraging young people from engaging in sexual activity in the first place.
'The last thing they should be doing is fuelling the flames of promiscuity and the sexual health crisis with schemes that treat parents, the law and basic moral principles with contempt.'
Simon Blake, chief executive of sexual health advice service Brook, said it was vital for younger people to have access to advice about sex.
He added: 'Most young people under the age of 16 are not having sex.
'But we believe it’s vital all young people, particularly those who are younger and may be more vulnerable, have a safe, confidential place to access advice, information, and support around sexual health and relationships.
'In some cases, this may include access to contraceptive implants from an appropriately qualified professional working within strict legal protocols.
'In these circumstances, we would include appropriate discussion and support for the young person in making that decision, during the fitting and in follow up afterwards.
'Young people may also need wider emotional and practical support in managing relationships, particularly where they are more vulnerable either because of their age or other personal circumstances.'