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Introduction to contraception

This knowledge will help your child to understand their bodies and how they work.

Introduction

You may not have thought about teaching your child about contraception. As your child enters their teenage years, it is important for them to have a basic understanding of sex, conception and contraception. It will also support their understanding of things that happen within relationships.  

If your doctor has recommended a hormonal contraceptive method to help your child manage their periods, it’s a good idea to discuss contraception with your child. Even if your child is too young to provide consent to medical procedures or medication, it is important to give them the information that will help them to practice making decisions and understand what is happening to them.

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To understand what contraception is, your child first needs to have a basic understanding of conception. If this is something your child is yet to learn about, you should read How babies are made.

When explaining contraception, start simple and then add more information depending on your child’s knowledge level and the questions they are asking.

Here are some key things to explain:

  • contraception is what a woman and man use if they want to have sex but do not want to make a baby
  • there are lots of different types of contraception that a person can use. Most types of contraception are used by women but some types are used by men
  • each person needs to think about what type of contraception best suits them. This is something their doctor can help them with

Once your child has an understanding of the basic information, you can then introduce more complex topics such as:

  • what types of contraception are there?
  • how does contraception work?
  • things to think about when choosing contraception
  • the importance of using condoms to help protect from sexually transmissible infections (STIs)
  • consent and sex

There are a variety of resources listed below that have a lot of information about all the different types of contraception, how they work, and the pros and cons of each.

If your child is an older teenager who is in an intimate relationship and may be sexually active, contraception is important to think about. In this situation, it is also a good idea for both of you to speak to a doctor about contraception options.

If you and your teenager are considering contraception, some things to think about are:

 

How is it is administered?

Some contraception can be taken in tablet form, others are administered through an injection or inserted into a person’s body.

 

How regularly does the contraception need to be taken?

Some contraception needs to be taken every day at the same time to be effective. Others last for years once inserted. Some people prefer to use long acting reversible types of contraception so they do not need to worry about remembering to take a pill every day.

 

How much does it cost?

Some types of contraception are more expensive than others.

 

Is your teenager taking other medication or do they have any existing health conditions?

Some types of contraception do not work well with other medication your child might be taking, or can exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions.

This is a question that parents ask sometimes when they are concerned about their child’s ability to manage their own period. It’s OK to be concerned.

However, with education and support, many people with intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder can manage their period successfully. There are times, however, that medication, including hormonal contraceptive methods, can be prescribed to help a person manage their period.

This may be because their period is particularly long, heavy or painful, or to help with premenstrual tension or mood swings. If this is a concern for you and your child, you should speak to your doctor for advice.

When considering options to assist your child to manage their period, it is important that they are involved in the decision making process as much as possible. Providing your child with easy read information, pictures and resources can help them to learn about their body and the options available to help manage their period. For more information on supporting decision making, go to Supporting Decision Making

Conversation Starters

I’m going to the doctor tomorrow to talk about my options for contraception. Do you know what contraception is?
You and your boy/girlfriend seem to really like each other. Sometimes when boyfriends and girlfriends have been together for a while they might decide to have sex. Do you know what you and your boy/girlfriend can do to not get pregnant?

Strategies for you to try

Use easy read resources

Use easy English resources like the ones listed below to find the right language and images to help talk to your child about contraception

Use teachable moments

Use everyday opportunities to teach about contraception. For example, if you take a contraceptive pill every morning, that can be an opportunity to show your child what you’re taking and explain what it is. Intimate scenes in movies or on television can also be an opportunity to start a discussion about contraception.

Schedule a long appointment with your doctor

If you’re making an appointment for you and your teenager to see a doctor about contraception options, ask for a long appointment so the doctor can go through the options more slowly and you both have enough time to ask questions. You and your teenager do not have to choose straight away. You can make another appointment to see your doctor once you and your teenager have made a decision.

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