A number of adolescents come for pregnancy tests at the Health Academy. We use this time as a good opportunity to talk to them about safer sex. I often hear the same answers such as “I forgot to use a condom that day”, “I was drinking alcohol that day so I forgot” and “I never use condoms because my boyfriend wants to have a baby”. We discuss different contraceptive methods such as two prevention injections and combined oral contraceptive pills. I always stress the importance of family planning and emphasise how the use of condoms can protect them from sexually transmitted infections and reduces the risk of contracting HIV and/or becoming pregnant.
I have found that a large number of teenagers that visit the Academy do not wish to use any form of contraception. Many worry about the possible side effects of taking pills such as weight gain or vaginal discharge. It is also common to find that female adolescents believe that if they use contraceptives now then they won't be able to conceive in the future.
Those that do use contraceptives often tell me that they sometimes forget to take the pill. If a female forgets to take the pill one day, we would encourage them to take two at the same time as soon as they remember again and then either abstain from sexual intercourse for the following seven days or use a condom. Unfortunately, a number of adolescents miss their appointments with us completely which makes it much more difficult for us to address any problems they may be having.
Missed appointments can result in unwanted pregnancies as we are not able to advise them on what to do in various situations such as these. We will support clients individually or in a couple counselling session and always stress the importance of keeping their appointment cards safe so that they don't forget which date they are supposed to come in. It shows how important it is to support, advise and encourage adolescents which is what we try our best to do at WhizzKids.