How to get help with your sexual health

There are lots of services that can help with your sexual health. This includes help and advice about:

  • contraception
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • if you’re planning to become pregnant
  • if you are pregnant and are not sure you want to have a baby
  • if you want to find out more about abortion
  • if you’re having problems with your sex life
  • if you have been sexually assaulted.

You can contact:

  • General practices.
  • Contraception clinics.
  • Sexual health clinics.
  • Sexually transmitted infection testing clinics (genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics).
  • Pharmacies.
  • Specialist sexual assault centres.

Sexual health clinics are clinics that provide contraception and infection testing services.

  • You can use our online clinic search.
  • You can find details of general practices and pharmacies in England at www.nhs.uk and in Wales at www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk. In Scotland you can find details of general practices at www.nhs24.com.
  • In England you can call NHS 111, in Wales you can call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 and in Scotland NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24.
  • In Northern Ireland call the FPA helpline on 0845 122 8687 or for details of general practices see www.hscni.net.
  • You can also get details of your nearest contraception, GUM or sexual health clinic from a telephone directory, health centre, local pharmacy, hospital, midwife, health visitor or advice centre.
  • You can get details of young people’s services from Brook on 0808 802 1234, www.brook.org.uk.

It depends on the service.

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) You can be tested for STIs at any genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic.
  • Contraception Some contraception services are restricted to local residents only. Phone the service before attending to check if they will see you.
  • Abortion NHS abortion advice and referral can only be obtained from a local service.

Anyone can use these services, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, religion, whether you are male, female, straight, gay or bisexual. Some services hold separate sessions for men, women, young people, gay men and lesbians.

Yes, all these services are confidential. This means that your personal information, any information about your visit and the tests and treatments that you’ve had will not be shared with anyone outside that service without your permission. Even if you are under 16 you have the same right to confidentiality as anyone else. Don’t be afraid to ask if you are not sure who will see your information.

Health professionals may need to involve other services if they believe you, or another person, to be at significant risk of harm (such as physical or sexual abuse). They will discuss this with you first.

This will depend on which service you use but may include the following:

  • You will normally be asked to fill in a form with your name and address if it’s the first time you’ve used the service.
  • At contraceptive services you may be asked questions about your medical and sexual history. If you choose certain methods of contraception you will need to have an internal examination, have your blood pressure taken or may be offered a test for sexually transmitted infections.
  • If you are going for a check-up for sexually transmitted infections you will be asked questions about your sex life. See Sexually transmitted infections.
  • If you are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, support will be available to help you tell a sexual partner(s) to get a check-up too.
  • Abortion services will ask you about your medical history and help you decide which method of abortion to have. They may offer you a test for sexually transmitted infections. If necessary they will do a scan to see how pregnant you are, and a blood test.
  • If you have been sexually assaulted you may be offered a more specialist service. They can also help you report the assault to the police, if you choose to.
  • It’s fine to take a friend with you for support. If you need to have an examination you should be offered a chaperone. This means that someone else can be with you when you have the examination.

Find out more from NHS Choices about NHS services.

Everyone has a right to access health services. If you have special requirements (such as a disability or if English is not your first language) contact the general practice or clinic in advance to make sure it can meet your needs. In some circumstances you may be able to be seen at home.

If you are not happy with the NHS service you have received you have the right to make a complaint. How to complain about NHS services.

You can also get information and help from The Patients Association Helpline on 0845 608 4455 (see www.patients-association.com) or from your local Patient Advice Liaison Service (search for your local service on the NHS Choices website). See your local directory, or ask at the service you attend.