When to see sexual health services
Sexual health services are free and available to everyone, regardless of sex, age, ethnic origin and sexual orientation.
If you have a disability and have special requirements, or if English is not your first language, you should make arrangements in advance.
Who offers sexual health services and advice?
Services and advice are available from:
- contraception clinics (also known as family planning clinics)
- sexual health clinics
- sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing clinics
- genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
- sexual assault referral centres
- young people's services
If you are not sure which service is right for you, call NHS 111, and they will be able to advise you.
Not all service providers offer the full range of sexual health services, and it's always best to check what's on offer in advance.
You can look for a local sexual health services or advice centre here. Simply select the services you want and carry out a postcode search. Each provider listed provides information about the services available, opening times and contact details.
- sexual health services
- services offering sexual health information and support
- sexual health services for young people
- services offering help after sexual assault
How it works
If you visit a sexual health service for the first time, you are usually asked to fill in a form with your name and contact details. Unless you are seeing your GP, you don't have to give your real name or tell staff who your GP is if you don't want to. You can visit any sexual health clinic – it doesn’t have to be one in your local area.
As part of your consultation, you may be asked some personal questions, such as your medical and sexual history, what methods of contraception you use, and other questions about your sex life and sexual partners. If you need to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you may need to provide a blood or urine sample.
All information regarding your visit will be treated confidentially. This means that your personal details and any information about the tests or treatments you have received will not be shared with anyone outside the sexual health service without your permission. This includes your GP.
If you are under 16 years of age, your details will still be treated confidentially, and nobody in your household will be contacted without your permission. However, staff may encourage you to talk to your parents, guardian or another trusted adult.
Other services may need to be contacted if healthcare professionals believe that you or another person is at risk of harm, such as physical or sexual abuse. However, if this is the case, it will be discussed with you during your visit.
Please also read the information about child sexual exploitation and information on female genital mutilation by clicking the related links to the left.
If you have been sexually assaulted, you may be offered a specialist service. They can also help you report the assault to the police, if you choose to. For more information see related links for information on help after rape and sexual assault.
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.
Content and links on this page supplied by NHS Choices