Sexual health services are all about helping to protect you - and helping you to protect yourself - from sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), supporting you with pregnancy tests, any unwanted pregnancies, as well as a number of other services.
When it comes to sexual health, looking after yourself not only protects you but also your partner.
Sex is often a taboo subject that many people have trouble discussing with family or friends. Therefore it is very important that there are independent experts that you can turn to if there is anything that is concerning you. With some STIs the long-term effects of leaving them untreated can be devastating and permanent, so the best thing you can do is ask for help from someone in the know as soon as you notice something is wrong.
For information about common sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), HIV and pregnancy termination, click here or call 0300 300 2016.
For general sexual health information, click here.
Information specifically for younger people is available here.
This is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK. Chlamydia is usually spread during vaginal, oral or anal sex, or by sharing sex toys. It can live inside cells of the cervix, urethra, rectum and in the throat and eyes If they are in contact with infected semen or vaginal fluid). Testing is free and treatment is with antibiotics.
For more information click here.
Contraception is the process of taking steps to ensure you do not become pregnant when you have sex. There are many options for doing this. They all have pros and cons. Different methods will be right for different couples, or right for you at different times in your life.
While many methods of contraception are effective, no method is completely (100%) reliable. For example, the contraceptive injection is more than 99% effective. In other words it is effective for more than 99 women in 100. This means less than 1 woman in 100 will become pregnant each year using this method of contraception. It is hard to understand the concept of less than one woman, so in this case the number is given out of 1,000 women instead of 100. For the example of injections, between 3 and 60 women out of every 1,000 using this method will fall pregnant.
When no contraception is used, around 85 in 100 sexually active women become pregnant within one year.
The effectiveness of some methods depends on how you use them. These are called "user-dependent methods". You have to use them properly or they do not work as well. For example, the combined oral contraceptive (COC) pill (often referred to as "the pill") is more than 99% effective if taken correctly. However, if you miss pills or are sick (vomit) then it becomes less effective. Other user-dependent methods include:
- Barrier methods (male and female condoms, diaphragms and caps).
- The progestogen-only pill (POP).
- Natural family planning.
Some methods are not so user-dependent and need to be renewed only infrequently or never. These methods tend to be more reliable and include:
- The contraceptive injection.
- Contraceptive implant.
- Intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUCDs) - also known as 'coils'.