Friday 6 August 2010

Truth behind the headlines: 11-year-olds and contraception

Earlier this week, I was disappointed but not surprised to see the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and other media outlets report a "huge rise" (Telegraph) in 11-year-olds on "the pill", or the combined oral contraceptive pill. Their conclusion? That pre-teens on the pill were the victims of "sexualisation".

So what's the real story behind the headlines? Yes, some 11- and 12-year-olds take the pill. Does this mean they're sexually active? No. One of the benefits of the pill is that it can help regulate the menstrual cycle, decreasing cramping and heavy periods. For many women, taking the pill saves them from agony and discomfort. I could write up a storm on this, but there's no need when Dr. Petra Boynton has already written an amazing post over at her blog. She explains how the story happened, what the statistics really mean, and what we, as sexual health and reproductive rights advocates, can be doing to put a stop to media hype around these issues.

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