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Talking about sex - If you need help now

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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.

Click on the links listed here to go directly to the answer.

Could I have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

If you've had unprotected sex (without a condom), there is a chance you could have caught an STI. Arrange to get tested if:

  • You haven't got symptoms but are worried that you might have an STI.
  • You have symptoms (such as unusual discharge).
  • You have the feeling that something is wrong.

If you're currently having sex with someone, either stop or make sure you use a condom until you know for sure if you have an STI. Your partner should get tested too.

You can get free, confidential advice and treatment from your GP or from specialist clinics in your area (even if you're under 16). Most hospitals have special clinics called genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics that give tests and treatment for STIs. There are also lots of places that are set up especially for young people.

Most STIs can be treated easily so don't be scared of having a test and getting a positive result. 

Find sexual health services near you

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, including:

  • your GP surgery
  • some pharmacies
  • a sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic
  • a community contraceptive clinic
  • The Department of Health's sexual health helpline (call 0800 567123)

Find your nearest sexual health services.

You can also buy a pregnancy test to do yourself at home, from a pharmacy or supermarket. Find out more about doing a pregnancy test.

If you're pregnant and it is unplanned, you must decide whether to continue with the pregnancy or end the pregnancy by having an abortion. The sooner an abortion is done, the easier and safer it is. But you might want to take time to make your decision. This is why it's important to know as soon as possible if you are pregnant.

No one needs to know that you're pregnant until you're ready to tell them. You can ask to see a female doctor if that would make you feel more comfortable.

If you decide to continue with the pregnancy, start your antenatal (pregnancy) care as soon as possible. This includes health checks for you and your baby. Your GP can talk to you about this. More about antenatal care.

I've had sex without a condom

If you've had unprotected sex, there is a risk of both pregnancy and STIs. The best thing to do is to act quickly. The sooner you act the more likely it is that you can prevent pregnancy.

Pregnancy

To avoid pregnancy, a woman can either:

  • take the emergency contraceptive pill (sometimes called the morning-after pill) up to 72 hours (three days) or 120 hours (five days) after having unprotected sex, depending on the type of pill
  • or she can have an IUD (sometimes called a coil) fitted (up to five days after unprotected sex)

If your next period doesn't arrive when you expect it to, take a pregnancy test.

STIs

If you have sex without a condom, or the condom splits or comes off, you're also at risk of getting an STI (find out how to use a condom). If this happens and you're worried you have caught an STI, you can get confidential help and advice in your local area, with free testing for STIs, at:

  • a sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic
  • some community contraceptive clinics
  • some GPs

Find sexual health services near you. If you're having sex, don't 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 contraception is right for you. Condoms are the only method that can protect you from both STIs and pregnancy. Use them along with your chosen method of contraception.

I've been pushed into sex

If someone has forced or persuaded you into a sexual situation you are uncomfortable with, there is help available. You can call the sexual health helpline free on 0800 567123. 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 done by someone you know 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 what to do if you have been sexually assaulted, or if it has happened to someone you know.

Will medication, vomiting or diarrhoea affect my Pill?

If you take it correctly (at the right time on the right day), the contraceptive pill is 99% effective. However, certain things, such as being sick, can stop it working properly. Always read the leaflet inside the packet so that you know what might affect it. Find out more about what changes could occur with the Pill when you're sick or have diarrhoea.

Some medicines, such as antibiotics, can prevent the Pill from working properly. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist to advise you on this if they're giving you any medicines. If you have any doubt about whether your contraceptive pill is affected, use condoms while taking medication and for seven days afterwards.

If you're sick (vomit) within three hours of taking the Pill it might not work properly and you'll need to use condoms as well for seven days.

If you have diarrhoea, keep taking the Pill as usual. But while you're unwell and for seven days afterwards, also use condoms.

I've forgotten to take my Pill

If you've forgotten to take your Pill you may not be protected against pregnancy. This depends on the type you're taking, how many doses you missed already and how many pills are left in the packet.

Keep taking the Pill and see your doctor, nurse or pharmacist as soon as possible for advice. Use condoms to make sure you are still fully protected.

What should I do if I miss a Pill (combined pill)?

What should I do if I miss a Pill (progestogen-only pill)?

You can also go to:

  • the FPA website: FPA is a provider of information on individual methods of contraception, common sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy choices, abortion and planning a pregnancy
  • the Ask Brook website: Brook is the young people's sexual health charity for under-25s

If you have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, you could consider using another method of contraception, such as the contraceptive implantcontraceptive injection or IUD. This means you don't have to think about your contraception every day or every time you have sex.

Find out more about the different contraceptive methods.

Medical Review: October 10, 2011

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