Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Ask Ellie: Choice of contraception is complex for young women

Oral contraceptives are more certain, but carry risks for some women
Advice columnist Ellie Tesher.

Dear Ellie: My niece is going to university this fall. She has a steady boyfriend who’s in third year at another university.

Her mother took her to their doctor to discuss birth control, if needed, and she was given a prescription for oral contraception.

My sister noticed the pills in her room and asked why she wasn’t using them. My niece’s response was that it was none of her business, but that condoms were “good enough.”

I’m shocked that in this day and age some young people are so ill-informed. Please let them know that condoms aren’t “good enough.”

Concerned Aunt

Your niece was correct that her choice of contraception was no one else’s business. Yet, a thorough discussion on this matter is complex, and should be had with her own doctor.

Relying on condoms to prevent pregnancy, is not always “good enough.” Especially not when a condom tears, comes off during intercourse or some sperm spillage occurs.

Meanwhile, your niece might have realistic concerns that contraceptive pills carry their own risks to women.

According to the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine, albeit dating back to 2012, “Oral contraceptives (OCPs) have their own significant risks, namely, an increase in cardiovascular events (such as an increase in venous thromboembolism, pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarction and stroke).”

However, “these latter occur especially in older women and smokers.” Secondly, (and importantly) “OCPs increase the risk of the world’s most frequently occurring cancer, breast cancer.”

Personally, I learned long ago that young adult women, especially, need to see their own female-health doctor to talk about changing studies on the use of birth-control pills.

Particularly important are the statistics on breast cancer and whether there’s a history of it in the adult female’s family history.

Encourage your niece to expand her own awareness of what she learns, toward her choice of contraception.

Dear Ellie: Our quiet neighbourhood changed this past year due to a young family now living next door. The parents are very loud and can be heard clearly in adjoining backyards, and even when their windows are closed.

They recently had a pool installed and the whole family is outside most afternoons. They’re enjoying each other but unaware of their neighbours.

The youngest child, seven, makes ongoing ear-piercing shrieks. The mom laughs loudly.

I realize I sound like an old “poop,” but we raised our kids to understand they live in a community.

I’m hoping that with maturing and the pool novelty wearing off next summer that things will settle down next year.

They’re a nice family and we’re pleasant with each other when we meet outside.

But there’s just so much ear-piercing shrieking I can take before I have to go inside and shut my windows. We’ve always enjoyed being outside reading and enjoying our garden. Any suggestions?

Backyard Pool Problems

Youngsters in a pool mostly shriek with joy, and while off-putting to some others, it’s also lovely to remember your own kids’ happiness in such a simple pleasure.

Yes, it’s intrusive when you’re trying to just enjoy the garden or read. However, pleasantry between neighbours is worth more than squelching a decent neighbourly relationship.

If their loudness intrudes, consider going for a walk. You don’t have to escape your home, but accommodate the fact that others have equal right to enjoy their home and its pool.

Stay amicable. It’s much less bothersome than reacting whenever the seven-year-old shrieks. Say hello to the child and comment cheerfully on his swimming or water toys.

School is starting, so his pool noises will abate.

Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman concerned about her widowed sister moving on:

“When my mom died at 62, she’d suffered 14 years through her initial cancer diagnosis and a very painful cancer return.

“She died and we all felt terrible grief. But I knew my dad had loved her with everything. He’d find a new companion soon.

“Eight weeks later, he met someone through a friend. I wasn’t surprised nor hurt. I wanted him not to suffer anymore.

“I’m like my father. We need someone to love. He continued to date various lovely women until he met his partner of eight years before he died.

“He was always a 50/50 partner in our home, cooking and cleaning. So, he didn’t ‘need’ a new partner, he just wanted someone to love.

“Your sister’s moving on after two years seems quite healthy and normal. She’ll always grieve the love she lost. Be happy for her.”

Ellie’s tip of the day Women using condoms vs. oral contraception need to learn what’s best for their age, plus medical and family history.

Send relationship questions to or

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks