Sexual Health

Use of sexual health services

GPs can provide contraceptives (methods of preventing pregnancy). Some prefer getting contraception from their GPs because they've built a good relationship with their doctor over the years but sometimes people are put off because receptionists may seem nosey.

Some prefer to use alternative NHS services, particularly if they don't feel comfortable at the doctors. They may be less likely to bump into people they know at the Family Planning or Brook clinic (see 'Difficulty accessing services in rural areas' and ' Difficulty accessing services in inner city areas').

Teenagers are often worried that their information may not be kept prviate (confidentiality) at their doctors and may be nervous, embarrassed or even scared the first time they approach family planning and sexual health services. If the receptionist seems unsympathetic it may put people off even more.

People we talked to often preferred Family Planning or Brook clinics because of their 'walk in' system, handy opening hours, specialised knowledge, appointments available at short notice, and more time with staff who gave clear explanations and answers to questions. Some of the women we spoke to liked the fact that most clinics had mostly female staff, who they felt more comfortable with.

Sometimes there can be a long wait for the doctor in a walk-in clinic. In cities, staff in clinics can be under pressure. A young man described how he felt unsure the first time he went to a local family planning clinic.

It's possible to use different services for different needs, such as GPs for a smear test, Family Planning for contraceptives, and sexual health (or GUM) clinics for STI check ups. People we talked to who had used GUM clinics usually liked the 'easy going' attitude of the staff, but some people were concerned about confidentiality or found the personal questions embarrassing.

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Several people we talked to had attended sexual health youth projects in their neighbourhoods. These projects provide services such as counselling, advice and information and free condoms, and were sometimes seen as more informal and friendly than a hospital.

People we spoke to said sexual health services need to be better advertised, that there are lots of young men and women 'out there' who don't know what is available and how to access it. They said it was equally important for young people to know that they have a right to confidentiality.

Last reviewed January 2016.

Last updated January 2016.

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