Pre-procedure pregnancy checking for under-16s - Guidance for clinicians

Determining pregnancy status in young female patients under 16 years of age is an area that clinicians may find difficult. This practical guide sets out the issues, risks and approaches that NHS organisations may consider when developing their policies in this area. 

While NICE and the Health Protection Agency state clearly that pregnancy checking is required before surgical or radiological procedures, the ethical, practical and contextual considerations when enquiring about sexual activity below the age of consent risk compromising compliance with good practice.

Developed on behalf of five professional bodies by a multidisciplinary working group, Pre-procedure pregnancy checking in under-16s aims to support local child health teams in brokering conversations and agreement.

Main guidance and supplementary documents

The main document is accompanied by four supplementary documents setting out the research evidence, statistics and risks, and a set of templates for local production of materials. Please use and disseminate this guidance widely and we hope that you will find the document useful in your work.

Guidance (PDF, 2 MB, 20 pages)

Statistics and risks about statistics and risks (PDF, 162 KB, 3 pages)

Review of the risks of anaesthesia (PDF, 158 KB, 4 pages)

Review of US literature on this topic (PDF, 172 KB, 6 pages)

Supplementary guidance on local use (PDF, 147 KB, 4 pages)

Sample leaflet for young patients (PDF 1 MB 4 pages)

Locations where guidance has been implemented    (PDF 11 KB 2 pages)

Supporting organisations

The guidance is supported by: 


If you need more information or background to the project or wish to share examples of how your trust has approached the issue, please contact