Here, people talk about:
who offers sexual health services and advice?
getting contraception from a clinic
what happens at a sexual health clinic?
Who offers sexual health services and advice?
Sexual health services are free and available to everyone regardless of age, sexuality, ethnic origin, gender or disability. Sexual health services and advice are available from:
contraception clinics (family planning clinics)
sexual health clinics
STI (sexually transmitted infections) testing clinics
genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
young people’s services (e.g. charities that work with young people)
Not all clinics offer the full range of sexual health services so it’s always best to check what they do beforehand. Aphra felt that sexual and mental health were the most important health issues for young people. Living in a village, most young people she knew locally went to the GP about sexual health because the nearest clinic was two bus rides away:
Getting to the sexual health clinic can be a problem. Aphra feels comfortable talking to her GP about sexual health. It’s got easier as she’s got older.
Some people we talked to went to a clinic to get contraception or contraceptive advice. Hannah and Sarah recalled feeling nervous or awkward the first time they went to see the GP about contraception, though it was fine and they said looking back they needn’t have worried. With hindsight, Hannah said she’d have preferred going to a family planning clinic at that age because they had sessions specifically for people under 21.
The family planning clinic offered more tests than Hannah’s local surgery. Young people might feel more comfortable going there than to their doctor.
If the nurse had explained the pros and cons of each option, Hannah wouldn’t have had to go to the clinic. She later decided against having an implant.
Siobhan would like it if her local surgery offered implants. The sexual health clinic does but is only open at certain times and is further away.
Anyone can make an appointment to go to a sexual health clinic (sometimes called a GUM clinic – genitourinary medicine clinic). Sometimes there’s a drop-in clinic, which means people can just turn up without making an appointment. People visiting a sexual health service for the first time are usually asked to fill in a form with their name and contact details. They don’t have to give their real name or tell staff who their GP is if they don’t want to. People can visit any sexual health clinic – it doesn’t have to be one in their local area. Brook, a popular sexual health service for young people, can only be used by under 25s. Appointments aren’t usually necessary as they work on a ‘drop in’ basis.
As part of the consultation (appointment), a person may be asked some personal questions, such as their medical and sexual history, what methods of contraception they use, and other questions about their sex life and sexual partners. Questions include:
when they last had sex
whether they had unprotected sex
whether they have any symptoms
whether they think they might have an infection
how many sexual partners they’ve had
whether they have sex with men or women or both
Staff at the clinic were good and put Kim at ease. They asked her general questions such as her age, occupation, and symptoms.
Staff at the sexual health clinic were very welcoming and understanding. Ish’s friends had been there before and recommended it.
Kim doesn’t usually mind if a GP is male or female. At the sexual health clinic, though, she asked for a female doctor because the appointment would be quite personal.
Aphra has no preferences in terms of seeing a male or female doctor. For her it’s more important to be seen and be given good care.
When it comes to sexual health services, young people have the same rights whether they’re under or over 16, regardless of their sexuality, ethnic origin, gender, or disability. All information about a person’s visit is treated confidentially. This means that their personal details and any information about the tests or treatments they’ve had won’t be shared with anyone outside the sexual health service without their permission. Appointments with the GP are confidential regardless of a person’s age. Doctors and nurses have very strict rules on confidentiality so that everything a patient tells them, their personal details and medical records are kept completely private. However, a GP might encourage a patient to tell others (like a parent) about the problem, or they can speak to them on the patient’s behalf if they’d prefer. This is because sometimes it’s important for those looking after a person to know what’s going on as they might be able to help or support them. The doctor might encourage a young person to tell their parent or guardian, but should respect a patient’s wishes if they don’t want to. If a patient is under 16 and doesn’t want to involve their parents, the doctor can treat them without telling their parents as long as the young person fully understands the choices they’re making. In exceptional cases, though, like when a health professional thinks a young person might be in serious danger, they may need to pass information to police or social services. Even then they must talk to the person first before they tell anyone else, unless that would put someone at risk of harm.sexual health here.More young people talk about their experiences of