Dallas, TX | Dr. Huertas talks about pre teens on birth control | CosmeticGyn Center
Speaker 1: In today's Health Watch, the number of pre-teen girls taking birth control is on the rise. That's according to a new study out of the UK, more than 1000 girls, ages 11 and 12, were prescribed some type of birth control pill last year, usually without their parents' knowledge. In Britain, doctors are allowed to prescribe it if they believe the child is mature enough to have sex. Now, the study did not show why it is being prescribed.
Speaker 1: The pill is often used to treat severe acne or heavy periods. Critics of prescribing the pill say that that early, it sexualizes those girls too young. Joining us today to talk about this, and there are a lot of parents probably really shaking their heads with this, Dr. Otto Huertas. He's a gynecologist in Forest Park Medical Center. Doctor, first of all, this is out of the UK. I think American parents, and especially those here in North Texas, are saying, "Uh-uh." Please tell us, are you seeing girls as young as 11 requesting birth control in your practice?
Dr. Huertas: Well, I don't necessarily see them requesting birth control, but I do see them coming in with their parents asking or having any other medical problems, like pelvic pain or painful periods or irregular periods, which at that point, you can put them in birth control. But not necessarily for... They come in just asking for family planning or birth control pills.
Speaker 1: Yeah, I don't really know of any 10, 11 year olds who would ask specifically to go to a gynecologist unless they were truly having some issues. So, you're saying that the key reason to ask for birth control, heavy periods, as far as your experience?
Dr. Huertas: Yeah, typically, you see patients, especially younger girls, when they start having their periods, they'd come in either with irregular periods or they start having pelvic pain or even premenstrual syndrome. And then, also obviously, with problems like acne or hirsutism or excessive hair growth. So, these orientations that we have to prescribe birth control pills on teenage patients. But necessarily for family planning, I don't think that's that common here, at least here in the United States.
Speaker 1: Yeah, what are the side effects from taking the pill, especially with young?
Dr. Huertas: Well, the main side effect is usually breast tenderness initially. Sometimes, you can have nausea, vomiting, which tends to be transient and usually goes away after the first week. Also, some patients who have irregular bleeding for the first three months, which we usually tell the patients to keep taking them, usually regulates itself after about three months.
Speaker 1: And real quickly, do you think younger women are more tempted to become sexually active if they're taking birth controls that young?
Well, I don't think it's a constantly an issue. I don't think that just because we're prescribing birth control pills to young patients, that gives them a green light to have sex. To answer your question, I don't think it has anything to do... We need to understand that every year, for the last 20 years, the age of early intercourse or the first intercourse have been coming down. The United States, right now, the average age is 14. And I think that's, since the 1960s, is just being going lower and lower. And I think it's in part to the sexual revolution and also because of the media.