LONDON (TIP): In a bid to cut the growing number of unwanted teen pregnancies in the UK, schools have been advised to provide free morning-after pills and condoms to teenage girls. According to new guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), under-25s should be able to access emergency contraception more readily, including pills and the IUD (intrauterine device, or coil). Although under-18 conception rates have fallen, England still has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe, said a statement by NICE.
Improving contraceptive services will help ensure young people get the support they need and reduce unwanted pregnancies. NICE has advised commissioners of services in England to give all young people access to contraception and advice at convenient locations so no-one is denied services because of where they live. “It is really important that sexual health services offering information and advice can be found in places where young people have access to them,” Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE said. “Evidence clearly shows that the availability of contraception reduces the rate of unwanted pregnancies.
Local planners and providers of services must make sure that what they offer is right for their area,” said Kelly. According to the guidelines, young women should be informed that an intrauterine device is a more effective form of emergency contraception than the oral method and can also be used on an ongoing basis. Young women should have timely access to emergency contraception using an intrauterine device, NICE said. “Young people often find contraceptive services and advice difficult to locate. This can be for a number of reasons.
They may not know where services are, who provides them or when they are open,” Kelly added. “They can also be wrongly worried that information they give may not be treated confidentially. For that reason, this guidance focuses on ensuring they receive culturally sensitive, confidential, nonjudgemental and empathic advice and support tailored to their individual needs,” said Kelly. Many of the recommendations made in the new guidance from NICE will cost nothing to implement. They look at existing services to ensure everything is being done to give all young people the support and advice they need.