Contraception is relevant for everyone
Although it seems obvious that sexually active young people are equally responsible for ensuring they use appropriate contraceptives, the reality is different. Martina Morawitz says: “99 percent of the users of our First Love Counseling Centers are girls. Many of them are very conservative in their thinking and feel that contraception is their job. We explain it to them, and they find out that they're not the only ones responsible for this.”
One topic discussed in the counseling sessions is that some young people don’t want to use a condom. It’s important to communicate clearly that “the pill can protect against pregnancy during vaginal sex, but it can’t protect against sexually transmitted infections/diseases. Protection against infection affects everyone, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation. Lots of people don’t seem to be aware of this. In many cases, young people haven’t practised the correct use of condoms, so don’t want to use them because they’re embarrassed,” says Morawitz. The discussions with the young people touch on all questions, and it is mainly important to debunk incorrect information and provide active explanations.
Simply saying that young people know nothing about contraception, though, is not correct. “There’s a wide range. Some of the young people who come to our counseling centers know a lot and very consciously and actively engage with the topic, others less so. It depends on a number of factors, some of them social,” says Morawitz. She emphasises, though, that “it would be great if more couples would come to the counseling sessions and guys would show more interest. We invite all young people to come back with their partners if they have any unanswered questions, but it is very rare for them to do it.”
Young people mostly get information about the use of the pill and condoms. Other methods such as the hormonal ring or the contraceptive patch are hardly ever discussed. It’s important that “everything to do with hormones is prescribed by a doctor. The right dose of the pill needs to be found, and this requires a doctor’s appointment. Young people should not get the pill from friends without a medical consultation under any circumstances. It’s dangerous and can have a negative impact on their health,” says Morawitz.
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Our interview partner
Martina Morawitz is a qualified social worker and family counselor with the First Love Counseling Center, Vienna, run by the Austrian Family Planning Association.
Österreichische Gesellschaft für Familienplanung (ÖGF)
Brünner Straße 68/3/15
The interview was conducted in May 2010 and revised in April 2022.