Pregnancies fall as use of emergency pill increases

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HUNDREDS of young teenagers are being given emergency contraception in the borough every year.

In total 250 underage girls were given emergency contraception from community health clinics in 2014/15, the highest number than anywhere else in Greater Manchester.

The work to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies is a crucial role for public health and a key priority as it helps us tackle wider issues such as child poverty, health inequalities and social exclusion

Prof Kate Ardern

And the number is likely to be higher as the figures do not include girls who were prescribed the morning after pill by GPs or who bought it over the counter.

The number equates to 35 girls aged 13 to 15 in every 1,000 of the population, making the borough the third highest in the North West behind St Helens, where 59 in every 1,000 were given contraception, and Oldham, where the figure is 40, and in the top 10 for the UK.

The figures have been published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre as part of a comprehensive look at sexual and reproductive health services in the UK.

But Wigan Council says there is no right or wrong number of children taking emergency contraception and it has played a part in bringing the number of teenage pregnancies down.

Prof Kate Ardern director of public health at Wigan Council said: “Wigan borough has historically had high rates of teenage

pregnancy.

“However the number of under 18 conceptions in the borough has now fallen by 49.4 per cent from the 1998 baseline achieving a greater reduction over the same period than England at 47.8 per cent, North West at 45.1 per cent and Greater Manchester 48.2 per cent.

“The number of under 16 pregnancies have fallen by 40.5 per cent from 2008-10 to 2011-13.

“The work to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies is a crucial role for public health and a key priority as it helps us tackle wider issues such as child poverty, health inequalities and social exclusion.

“Sexual health charity FPA say’s there is no right or wrong number of young people who should be accessing emergency contraception and national guidance on interventions proven to be effective and in young people’s best interest recommends local areas ensure young women can swiftly and easily obtain free oral emergency contraception.”

Emergency contraception is most commonly a pill, known as the morning after pill, which can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, or if other contraception has failed, but it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Overall in the UK 7,511 underage girls were provided with emergency contraception by a community sexual health service at least once, representing eight per 1,000 population which rose to 19 per 1,000 in the North West.

Prof Ardern continued: “The majority of young people are 16 or older at the time of their first sexual experience but for those younger, relevant services, including Brook and Barnardo’s work to keep them as safe as possible.

“Contraception and sexual health services are also available across the borough at the SHINE Integrated Sexual health service, Leigh walk-in-centre, GP practices, pharmacies and the college sexual health nursing service.”

Those aged under 25 can call Brook for advice and information on 01942 483180 or visit brook.org.uk/wigan-and-leigh.