Sexual health clinics offer a range of services, including:
- testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- advice and information about sexual health
- free condoms
- contraception – including emergency contraception, such as the emergency contraceptive pill
- pregnancy testing
- HIV testing – including rapid tests that give results in about 30 minutes and counselling for people who are HIV-positive
- PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) – medication that can help prevent people from developing HIV if they've been exposed to it
- hepatitis B vaccination
- advice about abortion
- help for people who have been sexually assaulted
- if necessary, a referral to a specialist
Sexual health clinics may also be called genitourinary medicine (GUM) or sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. Not all clinics offer every service – check with the individual clinic to see what's available.
Who can use sexual health clinics?
Anybody can go to a sexual health clinic, no matter what their age. Some clinics hold sessions for specific groups of people, including young people, gay men and lesbians.
You may need to make an appointment at some clinics, while others offer "drop-in" sessions, where you can turn up without an appointment.
Appropriate arrangements should be in place so patients with special needs can access sexual health services – for example, providing access to interpreters.
There should also be clinic facilities for people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, people who've been sexually assaulted, sex workers and those who misuse substances.
All services are free and completely confidential, and all tests are optional.
Sexual health clinics can offer testing for STIs, such as:
Depending on which STIs you’re tested for, tests may include:
- an examination of your genitals, anus, mouth and skin
- giving a urine sample
- having a blood sample taken
- a swab from your urethra (the tube through which you pass urine) for both men and women
- a swap from your throat or rectum
- for women, a swab from your vagina or cervix (lower part of the womb)
- an internal examination for women
Find out what to do if you think you have an STI.
Page last reviewed: 1 June 2018
Next review due: 1 June 2021