Forgotten your pill or had unprotected sex? Maybe you're worried about something? Here's what to do and where to go if you need help urgently.
Could I have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
Arrange to get tested if you:
- haven't got symptoms, but are worried you might have an STI
- have symptoms, such as an unusual discharge
- feel something is wrong
If you're sexually active, either stop having sex or make sure you use a condom until you get your test results and know for sure whether or not you have an STI.
If you do have an STI, using a condom will help prevent passing it on. Your sexual partners should also get tested.
You can get free, confidential advice and treatment from your GP or specialist clinics in your area, including if you're under 16.
Hospitals often have sexual health clinics (also known as GUM clinics), which test for and treat STIs.
There are also lots of places that are set up especially for young people.
Most STIs can be easily treated, so don't be scared of having a test and finding you do have an STI.
I think I might be pregnant
The first thing to do is find out for certain by taking a pregnancy test. The sooner you do this, the better.
There are lots of places where you can have a free pregnancy test and get confidential advice, even if you're under 16.
- sexual health clinics (GUM clinics)
- contraception clinics (also called family planning clinics)
- some young people's services – call the national sexual health helpline on 0300 123 7123 for details (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 4pm)
- Brook centres – for under-25s - visit the Brook website for details
- some GP surgeries
You can also buy a pregnancy test from pharmacies or some supermarkets, which you can do yourself at home.
If you're pregnant and it's unplanned, you'll need to decide if you want to continue with the pregnancy.
If you decide to have an abortion, the sooner this is done, the easier and safer it is.
But you might want to take time making your decision, which is why it's important to find out if you're pregnant as soon as possible.
Nobody needs to know you're pregnant until you're ready to tell them.
You can ask to see a female doctor if it would make you feel more comfortable.
If you decide to continue with the pregnancy, you should start your pregnancy (antenatal) care as soon as possible.
This includes health checks for you and your baby. Your GP can discuss this with you.
I've had sex without a condom
If you have had sex without a condom or the condom splits or comes off, there's a risk of both pregnancy and STIs.
The best thing to do is act quickly. The quicker you act, the sooner you can prevent a pregnancy or get tested for an STI.
You can get pregnant if you have sex without a condom or the condom splits or comes off.
In this case, to avoid pregnancy you can either:
- take the emergency contraceptive pill, sometimes called the morning-after pill, up to 72 hours (3 days) or 120 hours (5 days) after having unprotected sex, depending on the type of pill
- have an intrauterine device (IUD), sometimes called a coil, fitted up to 120 hours (5 days) after having unprotected sex
However, try to take emergency contraception before 3 days, or have the coil fitted before 5 days. The sooner you take it, the more effective they will be.
Take a pregnancy test if your next period doesn't arrive when you expect it to.
If you're having sex, don't regularly rely on emergency contraception to stop you getting pregnant.
There are lots of contraceptive options you can choose from.
Talk to a nurse or doctor at a clinic or GP surgery about what type of contraception is right for you.
If you have sex without a condom or the condom splits or comes off, you're also at risk of getting an STI.
If this happens and you're worried you have caught an STI, you can get confidential help and advice in your local area, as well as free testing for STIs, at:
- sexual health clinics (GUM clinics)
- some community contraceptive clinics
- some GPs
Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in the UK.
It can be easily tested for and testing is free and confidential at a sexual health clinic or GP surgery.
You can also buy chlamydia testing kits to use at home, with free tests available online for 15- to 24-year-olds.
I've forgotten to take my pill
You may not be protected against pregnancy if you have forgotten to take your pill.
This depends on the type you're taking, how many doses you have missed already, and how many pills are left in the packet.
This means you don't have to think about your contraception every day or every time you have sex.
You may need to use condoms for extra protection.
If you need further advice, speak to a doctor, nurse or pharmacist as soon as possible.
Will medication or being ill affect my pill?
If you take it correctly, at the right time on the right day, the contraceptive pill is 99% effective.
But certain things, such as being sick (vomiting), can stop it working properly.
Always read the leaflet inside the packet so you know what might affect it.
Some medicines can prevent the pill working properly. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist to advise you about this if they're giving you any medicines.
I've been pushed into sex
If someone has forced or persuaded you into a sexual situation you're uncomfortable with, help is available.
You can call the national sexual health helpline free on 0300 123 7123, Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 4pm. Your call will be treated with sensitivity and in strict confidence.
You can also contact a sexual assault referral centre (SARC), where you can get specialist support and medical care if you have been sexually assaulted.
A sexual assault can happen anywhere, including in your home, and is more likely to be carried out by someone you know rather than a stranger.
Find rape and sexual assault support services, including SARCs.
You can also ask at your GP surgery, contraceptive clinic or sexual health clinic.
Find out more about help after rape and sexual assault, either for yourself or someone you know.
- British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) – provides advice and support about contraception, abortion and sexual health; call the helpline on 03457 30 40 30, 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm, Saturday and 9.30am to 2.30pm on Sunday or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brook – the young people's sexual health charity for under-25s provides advice, support and information about your nearest sexual health clinic
- FPA – provides information about individual methods of contraception, STIs, pregnancy choices, abortion and planning a pregnancy
- Switchboard: the LGBT+ helpline – provides an information, support and referral service for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans (transgender, transsexual, transvestite) people; call the helpline on 0300 330 0630, open 10am to 10pm daily
- Terrence Higgins Trust – provides information, support and advice about HIV and sexual health; call the helpline on 0808 802 1221, open 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday
- Health for Teens – includes sexual health information and advice for teenagers