If you were to ask me how to use a NUVA ring I would be able to tell you fairly accurately how it works, how often to replace it and so on. While I am not a medical professional, I know this information to be factual because I have received contraceptive counseling from my OB/GYN. While speaking with a colleague who recently gave a Community Health presentation to a group of student nurses, I learned that one student shared a story about a 16 year old was upset with her Pharmacist because her birth control failed to work because she is now pregnant. It’s important to mention that she was wearing her NUVA ring around her wrist.
This begs the question; when we think of access to reproductive health education, do we assume that uncensored, medically accurate instruction and counseling about the body and human reproduction is included? Yes, it’s our right to have this information, but it is not always the “kind” of access to this “type” of education that young people receive today.
Whether going to the OB/GYN to get an annual checkup, visiting the pharmacy to pick up monthly birth control, or talking to a nurse about contraceptives, we all assume that we are getting the information we need to make informed decisions about our bodies.
“As adults, we too often take for granted that everyone just knows these things. But without educating our young people on how contraception works and how to use it consistently and correctly, access to it doesn't help.” say Dana Becker, Community Specialist at the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “We cannot underestimate the importance of contraceptive counseling with young people.”
Dr. Nada Stotland, President of the American Psychiatric Association, conducted a study that addressed the relation between clinician-provided contraceptive counseling and patients' attitudes and behaviors toward contraception. “Women who visited an OB/GYN were almost 2 times more likely to receive counseling than were those who did not. Women who received personalized counseling were significantly more likely to be satisfied with their counseling, to be using contraceptives, and to intend to use contraceptives than were those who received nonpersonalized counseling (i.e., general discussion of contraception or provision of materials or videos on the topic) or no counseling.”
With that in mind, let’s think about the attitudes and behaviors towards contraception in the South. Is it fair to say that the counseling young people receive is often “nonpersonalized”? Many of our young people do not have access to the full range of clinical and counseling services, let alone the proper instruction that should come with utilizing contraceptives. It’s not an issue of morality, or funding, it’s our right, the right of young people. In this case our right to uncensored, medically accurate instruction and counseling about my body and human reproduction.
“Not all clinicians may consider contraceptive counseling to be a high priority, but preventing unintended pregnancy is important to many women's health and well-being” says Dr. Stotland. It’s up to us to open the dialogue about prevention as a priority in the conversation of reproductive health, because it IS personal, it’s the difference between young people becoming teen parents or not.
Contraceptive Counseling Study:
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