Everything you need to know about sexual health clinics

Get the lowdown on what happens at a sexual health clinic, including how to get contraception and going for an STI test
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What is a sexual health clinic?

The primary function of a sexual health clinic, or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic, is to provide specialised sexual health services to people of all ages, including under 16s.

This includes STI testing, providing free contraception and PrEP, as well as fittings and removals for contraceptive coils and implants.

Can you go to any sexual health clinic?

Depending on the reason for your visit, you may be able to go to any sexual health clinic. So if you’ve gone away for the weekend and need emergency contraception, need to access a clinic further away from home for personal reasons, or it’s just conveniently near where you work or study, you’re sorted.

Use this STI clinic finder for information on contraception and sexual health clinics in your area. Remember to check your local STI clinic’s website for both walk-in and appointment only opening hours.

How do sexual health clinics work?

Depending on the clinic, you will either need to make an appointment or you will be able to just walk in. It’s always best to check the opening times of your local clinic, as some hours will be reserved for appointments only.

Depending on the service you need, you may need to make an appointment, for example, getting a coil fitted or removed. Whereas if you just need a repeat of your pill, you can often just walk in and may even be fast-tracked to see a nurse. You will be able to request to see a male or female practitioner if you want, but be mindful that your wait may be longer if you are using walk-in services.

What happens at a sexual health clinic?

Check out The Lowdown’s STI clinic reviews

Going to a sexual health clinic can be nerve wracking, whether you’ve been to one before or not. But it doesn’t have to be! Get the lowdown on what to expect at different STI clinics, including services offered, wait times and overall - what’s the vibe?


STI clinics FAQs

What do sexual health clinics test for?

When will I get my STI test results?

Can a sexual health clinic prescribe the pill?

Can sexual health clinics do smear tests?

Can a sexual health clinic prescribe antibiotics?

What contraception can I get at a sexual health clinic?

Can I get a coil fitted at a clinic?

Are STI clinics open on bank holidays?

Try our contraception recommender

Got a question about this service?

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Struggling to get an appointment and need advice?

Here’s what you can talk to The Lowdown’s women’s health GPs about...
  • Non-urgent routine queries and personalised advice: whether you’re choosing, switching or starting contraception, our GPs take the time to get to know you and your medical history. If you have an urgent medical problem see your GP, local sexual health clinic or emergency services
  • If you have a busy schedule: can’t get to a sexual health clinic for advice within their opening hours? Our GPs offer online and phone appointments mornings, evenings and weekends
  • If you have no idea where to begin when it comes to contraception: our appointments last for 20 minutes, so there’s plenty of time to discuss all of your options, questions and concerns
  • If you have questions about a women’s health condition: our doctors can also discuss things like endometriosis, PCOS, fertility, vaginismus, hormones, PMS - the list goes on!

Book an appointment with one of The Lowdown’s women’s health GPs at a time that suits you.

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