Learn more about sexual health services for young people in the UK. What they are, where they are, what they do and what going for a check up or a chat at a clinic is like.
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Why hello there.
This post is really only relevant to those who live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In the UK we are pretty lucky to have free and confidential sexual health services for young people. You can get free condoms, emergency contraception, contraception, STI check-ups, pregnancy testing, impartial advice about pregnancy options, terminations of pregnancy (not usually in Northern Ireland though), counselling, advice, cervical screening, well man checks. All free and confidential with no prescription charges. Good eh?
If you click on the the top right hand corner of this blog or here then you can find your local place for these services. Not all services are the same though so I’ll try to make this clear in this post.
Many areas have young people’s clinics as well as adult clinics, if you are a young-un you can go to either.
Young people’s clinics offer very similar services to adult services but with staff who are trained in working with young people and aim to be more friendly and welcoming to the yoof. They also tend to be open after school (afternoons and evenings). Each clinic may offer some or all of the services above, it depends so make sure you find out they do what you want before you go.
If you are worried or want to know more about what may happen then click the image below. It’s an example of a welcome leaflet which we use at a clinic I work at. It will give you some idea of what happens.
Young people’s clinics are provided by the NHS (National Health Service) and employ their own staff, or they pay for other organisations to provide them. For example Brook are a charity who specialise in young people’s sexual health services, they provide really great services. Check out their website: just make sure you come back OK?
Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) also provide some services to young people.
So here is an example of a young people’s clinic in action. It’s a great project called KISS (Keep It Safe and Sorted, or Sexy, I forget which) in Uxbridge, London (or Middlesex, I forget which). It stars Average Joe and Condom Man!!!
Ok. Now to confuse you a little bit, clinics for adult sexual health are split into two types of service.
One mainly does the stuff to do with contraception, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, terminations: these are known as ‘Reproductive Sexual Health’ or ‘Family Planning’ clinics.
The other mainly does STI check-ups and treatment: these are known as ‘Sexual Health Clinics’ or ‘GUM’ (Genito-Urinary Medicine) Clinics.
Remember each service should spell out exactly what they do, so go to the one which does what you want.
You could also just go to your GP. Many GPs offer sexual and reproductive health services and can be a very convenient place to get your contraception from, for instance.
For more detail on all the services available for adults and young people in more detail, visit Dr Petra’s blog
Pharmacists (chemists) are very useful places, particularly for the Emergency Contraception Many pharmacists are funded to give the Emergency Contraception for free to young people. So find out locally whether yours will. If not the emergency contraception pill (Levonelle 2) costs around £25.
The pharmacist will normally have a private consultation room where you may be asked for some information and given some advice about emergency contraception and safer sex.
All clinics to do with sexual health, for adults or young people, will provide you with free condoms! Hurrah!
Many areas also have ‘Condom Distribution Schemes’ and many of these are aimed at young people. The idea is that it makes access to condoms easier. They are great at providing condoms, but if you want more specialist advice and information they might not be able to help you but they will refer you to someone who can if they can’t.
In some areas you register and get a ‘C Card’ which means that you can go to a number of outlets near where you live to get them (though in practice, young people tend to go back to the same place). Connexions Centres, youth clubs, GP surgeries, local clinics are often part of these schemes: even barber shops in some areas!
Chlamydia is the most common Sexually Transmitted Infection, particularly amongst young people. You can catch it very easily if you have penis in vagina or anus sex without a condom. It usually has no symptoms (so you do not know you have it). It can stop you from having kids when you’re older. It is easy to test for (pee in a pot) and it is easily cured (a week of anti-biotics).
Because of this, if you are a young person in the UK, you might have had someone pushing a urine pot under your nose! You might even have had a letter about it from your local PCT (Primary Care Trust, the people in the NHS that provide these services).
Colleges, Schools, Universities, Workplaces and even some pubs and nightclubs have had teams of chlamydia screeners trying to get people to get a free test. If someone asks you to do a test, and you wanna do it, just listen to their instructions about how to pee in the pot and how they will let you know the result (usually they text you).
You can even get a free testing kit sent to you for instance here
As with everything on here it’s all free and confidential.
Now remember, to find your nearest place click on the yellow box above or here
For more on Contraception and Services
Sexual Health Services: what going to a clinic is like and what they do there
© Justin Hancock 2012, bishtraining.com