Contraceptive pill now more popular than the condom among 15-year-old girls attending NHS community contraceptive clinics

Fifteen-year-old girls attending an NHS community contraceptive clinic were – for the first time – more likely to opt for the oral contraceptive pill rather than the male condom last year, according to new figures out today from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Some 41 per cent of those attending chose the oral contraceptive pill compared to 36 per cent who chose the male condom.

This was a turnaround on the previous year – 2010/11 – when 38 per cent of 15-year-old girls attending such clinics opted for the pill compared to 42 per cent who chose the male condom.

It is the first time the pill has been more popular than the condom among this group of young women. Oral contraception has been the most common method of contraception for all the older age groups for many years.

NHS Contraceptive Services, England 2011/12 Community Contraception Clinics showed 43,000 15-year-old girls attended an NHS community contraceptive clinic in 2011/12 – around 14 per cent of the population in that age group, which has remained a similar percentage from 2010/11.

 The report also showed:

 

  • 1.4 million people attended NHS community contraceptive clinics in 2011/12 – up seven per cent or 96,000 on 2010/11.
  • Use of long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) continued to account for 28 per cent of primary methods of contraception among women who attended NHS community contraception clinics. This compares to 18 per cent in 2003/04 (the first year of the time series).
  • Prescriptions of LARCs have nearly doubled in the last 15 years from 0.7 million in 1997/98 (the first year of the time series) to 1.3 million in 2011/12.
  • Among women who attended, the 16 to 19-year-old age group had the highest number of attendances per head of population with an estimated 23 per cent of women in the age group visiting a clinic during the year.
  • Seventeen per cent of 20-24 year olds, ten per cent of 25-34 year olds and seven per cent of those 35 and over (based on the female population aged 35-44) attended an NHS community contraceptive clinic in 2011/12.
  • At 70,000 the number of girls aged 15 and under who attended an NHS community contraceptive clinic represented eight per cent of the population (based on the female population aged 13, 14 and 15) in the age group.
  • Oral contraception was also the most common method of contraception for those aged 16-17 (46 per cent), 18-19 (51 per cent) and 20-24 (53 per cent), 25-34 (45 per cent) and 35 and over (32 per cent based on the female population aged 35-44).

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: “The report captures the changing way in which women across the age range are managing their reproductive health.

“While the oral contraceptive pill is clearly the most popular form of contraception among older women, this report indicates that now, for the first time, it has become the preferred form of contraception among 15-year-old girls too – overtaking the male condom

“Together with the continuing rise of the long acting reversible contraceptive, this captures just two of the ways in which people’s choice of contraception is changing.”

The report is at www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/nhscontra1112

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