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Oral contraceptives prove popular among young teens

Oral contraceptives have overtaken the male condom as the most popular form of contraception among 15 year-old girls for the first time, data shows.

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows 41% of 15 year-old girls attending NHS community contraceptive clinics chose the oral contraceptive pill compared to 36% who chose the male condom.

This is a turnaround on the previous year where 38% of 15 year-old girls opted for the pill and 42% chose the male condom.

The report NHS Contraceptive Services, England 2011/12 Community Contraception Clinics showed 43,000 15-year-old girls attended an NHS community contraceptive clinic in 2011/12 - around 14% of the population in that age group, which has remained a similar percentage from 2010/11.

Oral contraception is also the most common method of contraception for those aged 16-17 (46%), 18-19 (51%) and 20-24 (53%), 25-34 (45%) and 35 and over (32%).

The report also shows the use of long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) accounted for 28% of primary methods of contraception among women who attended NHS community contraception clinics - up from 18% in 2003/04.

Prescriptions of LARCs have nearly doubled in the last 15 years from 0.7 million in 1997/98 to 1.3 million in 2011/12.

“The report captures the changing way in which women across the age range are managing their reproductive health,” said HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan.

“While the oral contraceptive pill is clearly the most popular form of contraception among older women, this report indicates that now, for the first time, it has become the preferred form of contraception among 15-year-old girls too - overtaking the male condom.

“Together with the continuing rise of the long acting reversible contraceptive, this captures just two of the ways in which people's choice of contraception is changing.”