We are here to offer discreet, confidential advice.Some people find it difficult to talk about their sexual health but there really is no reason to be embarrassed.

If you have concerns about your sexual health, you can ask our pharmacist for advice in complete confidence. All our pharmacies have a private consultation room, where you can ask about a wide range of topics including concerns over unprotected sex and sexually transmitted infections. We also provide sexual health services, including emergency hormonal contraception, chlamydia screening and free condoms.*

*Selected branches only. This service is funded by the NHS. Ask your local branch team for further information. 

What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is a form of birth control that can help prevent pregnancy, if:

  • You’ve had unprotected sex
  • You’ve missed a pill
  • Your condom has split during intercourse

The two most effective methods of emergency contraception are:

    • Emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) known as the “morning after pill”. (Although, you do not necessarily have to take this the morning after unprotected sex)
    • Intrauterine device (IUD) which is also known as the coil Your local Well pharmacy can supply EHC to women (over the age of 16) enabling them to access treatment in a convenient and private environment.

 

What is emergency hormonal contraception?

EHC is the most commonly used emergency contraception method. It prevents an egg from being released from the ovaries, and being fertilised, or from implanting in the womb.

Our pharmacist can provide you with advice and support in the privacy of our consultation room to ensure you are aware of all the options available for you.

We’ll just need a brief chat with you first to make sure you can take EHC safely and understand your next steps if it doesn’t work.

In most cases, EHC can be provided without a prescription so you won’t need to visit your doctor.

However, if EHC isn’t suitable for you, you may want to consider the intrauterine device (coil), available from your doctor or family planning clinic. Please ask our pharmacist for more details.

EHC – frequently asked questions

Every year we see lots of women who are worried about emergency contraception. For  some answers to  the most commonly asked questions please download our sexual health leaflet at the bottom of the page.

 

What is a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

STIs are passed from one person to another through unprotected sex or genital contact. Although it’s not a pleasant thought, if you’ve had unprotected sex you’re at risk from STIs.

STIs include:

  • Chlamydia     • Genital warts
  • Gonorrhea     • Genital herpes
  • Pubic lice      • Syphilis
  • HIV  

 

It is important that you are aware of the risks associated with sexually transmitted infections and know that in nearly every case, condoms will help protect you against this risk.

 

What is chlamydia?

It’s an STI caused by a tiny bacterium, chlamydia trachomatis, that’s found in semen and vaginal fluid

It can easily be passed from one person to another during sex unless you use a condom. You can catch chlamydia by having:

  • Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
  • Genital contact with an infected partner

Why is chlamydia a problem?

If left untreated it can spread to other parts of your body and cause some serious long-term problems in both men and women.

If untreated in men, chlamydia can lead to a painful infection of the testicles with the possibility of reduced fertility. It may also cause inflammation of the prostate.

In women, chlamydia can spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, and cause pelvic inflammatory disease. This can lead to chronic pelvic pain, blocked fallopian tubes, infertility and ectopic pregnancy (in the fallopian tubes). In rare cases it can spread to your liver causing pain and inflammation.

 

What is a chlamydia screening test?

It’s a free, simple and completely confidential test kit that is available to collect from your local Well* and can be used in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Don’t worry, you won’t need to go through an intimate or embarrassing examination, you’ll just need to provide a urine sample or a vaginal swab and return it to your local pharmacy in the container provided. We’ll be able to access the results from the laboratory usually within 48 hours, so we can put your mind at rest or signpost you to the right course of treatment.

How do you treat chlamydia?

All it usually takes to clear up the infection is a course of antibiotics. Simply take your antibiotics as instructed and avoid any sexual contact until you and your partner have completed the course to prevent re-infection.

How do I protect myself from chlamydia and other STIs?

  • Use condoms every time you have sex and check the instructions in the packet if you are unsure how to use condoms correctly
  • If you have oral sex, cover the penis with a condom or the vagina with a plastic “dam”
  • Have a chlamydia test each time you have a new sexual partner
  • Make chlamydia testing a regular part of your life and get checked once a year

 

Frequently asked questions

Q: Should I tell my partner?

A: Definitely. It’s very important that your current and any other recent partners are tested too. We understand that this can be very difficult, so if you feel unable to do it please talk to your Well pharmacist. We can give you a “contact” slip to send to your partner(s). This slip explains that your partner(s) may have been exposed to an STI and suggest they go for a check-up. It won’t say your name on it.

Q: Will I know how long I’ve had it?

A: That’s a tricky one. If you’re symptom free, or they don’t appear for a long time, you may not know whether you got it from your current partner or a previous relationship. It is best to get yourself checked if you’ve had unprotected sex.

Q: What if I have chlamydia and get pregnant?

A: Chlamydia has been linked to early miscarriage and premature births. You can also pass it on to your baby during the birth and, more rarely, during pregnancy when it can cause discharge from the baby’s eyes as well as pneumonia. It can easily be treated with antibiotics but you must tell your Well pharmacist that you are pregnant.

For more information, please download our sexual health leaflet.

Download

If you require any further information that is not contained within our leaflet, please speak to your local pharmacist, (search for your local Well pharmacy here).

Alternativley speak to your doctor or click to visit your the local NHS health advice page (links below).

NHS Scotland

NHS England

NHS Wales

 

Content reviewed September 2014