Ask Sam letter


To Sam

sex and contraception

me and my boyfriend were thinking about having sex, we are both 14. i want to but i want to know if i am able to get the morning after pill with out anyone knowing, and where would i get it from. im also worried about getting pregnant. if i did would i be able to get a secret abortion? with out my parents finding out? and how does abortion work?
Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your letter. You have done well to find out about contraception before you and your boyfriend decide whether to have sex. Contraception should always be used; even if it’s the first time having sex for both of you. You asked me specifically about getting the morning after pill. The morning after pill should be used in emergencies when other forms of contraception have gone wrong - for example, if a condom broke. It is not safe to rely on the morning after pill as your only form of contraception, so if you are thinking about having sex it is a good idea to talk to a doctor or family planning advisor about all the other options available.

The Family Planning Association (FPA) has information where you can find your nearest clinic that gives young people confidential advice about contraception. These services will generally talk to young people without telling their parents or anyone else, unless they think you are at risk of harm. If you are worried, the best way to be sure about a service’s confidentiality policy is to ask them up front.

The FPA can also tell you the nearest place to get the morning after pill. It is available at Brook Centres (for under 25s), family planning clinics, GPs and most chemists or pharmacies. The nurse, doctor or pharmacist will ask you a few questions to make sure that you can safely take the emergency contraceptive pill. Another good source of information about sex for young people is Brook. They also have a helpline (0808 802 1234).

It sounds like you have lots of questions about sex and contraception and that’s natural. As well as getting the right information about protecting your sexual health it’s also important that you have the chance to talk about whether you feel physically and emotionally ready to have sex. Although you can legally have sex at 16, you should only have sex when you feel ready and are not feeling pressured into doing it.

You asked about whether you can get a secret abortion. Hopefully making choices about contraception that you are happy and confident about will keep the risk of pregnancy really low. You haven’t mentioned in your letter which part of the UK you are in. It is currently not legal to get an abortion in Northern Ireland unless there is a serious, long term risk to a woman’s mental or physical health. If you need advice on how someone living in Northern Ireland can get an abortion, you can speak to the FPA’s Northern Ireland helpline (0845 122 8687) or call Brook in Belfast (028 9032 8866).

If someone in England, Wales or Scotland is thinking about having an abortion she should visit her doctor, a family planning clinic or a Brook centre to talk through her feelings about being pregnant. Once she has been referred for an abortion, she will make an appointment at the abortion clinic. Her medical history will be taken and a nurse or doctor will discuss what will happen next. The procedure for abortion is different depending on how many weeks pregnant you are. If you want more information about what actually happens, it’s best to find out more about this from someone with medical knowledge, like the NHS or Brook.

If a young woman under 16 is considered competent to consent to her own medical treatment, she can agree to an abortion for herself. However, it would be usual to try to involve a parent or another adult to provide support, for example another family member. Your doctor may break confidentiality and inform your parents or social services if they are worried about your well-being or if they feel you don't understand enough to make an informed decision.

There is a lot of really useful information on our website in the Explore section with links to websites that will provide you with more advice. If you would like to speak to a counsellor at ChildLine you can call the helpline on 0800 1111, send an email or use the 1-2-1 chat. Counsellors won’t judge you, they will try to support you.  ChildLine wants to be able to answer any questions young people might have so that they have all the information they need to make confident decisions about sex. I hope this helps.

Take care,


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