Sexual Health FAQs and useful websites
Please call 020 3317 5252 if you want to make an appointment.
If you have been sexually assaulted visit The Havens a specialist service for victims of sexual assault.
To find out more information about drug and alcohol use visit the Compass website.
If you have any questions about any of the following categories click on the relevant link.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Smear tests
- HIV risk and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
- Other websites
What tests do we offer?
Most STIs are asymptomatic. If you have not had a recent screen (or what you might call a test) then we recommend that you arrange one.
A basic STIs screen includes testing for:
- HIV (rapid test)
- Syphilis (blood test)
In some circumstances we also offer testing for:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- HIV (non-rapid 4th generation blood test)
For people with certain symptoms we may offer testing for:
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Trichomonas Vaginalis
When is the best time for me to have a screen?
The best time for you to be screened depends on the 'window period'. This is the time it takes from catching an infection (e.g. through unprotected sex) to when the infection would be detected by a test. For example if you have unprotected sex and then have a STI screen one week later for Chlamydia, the test result may be negative. This could be because you did not catch Chlamydia or the test hasn’t detected the infection yet as you are still in the 'window period' for that test. If after two weeks (the window period for Chlamydia) the test result is negative you can be reassured that you did not catch Chlamydia from the unprotected sex two weeks before.
The window period is different for each test:
- Chlamydia - two weeks
- Gonorrhoea - one week
- Trichomonas Vaginalis - two weeks
- Syphilis - three months
- HIV (rapid point of care test) - three months
- HIV (4th Generation non-rapid blood test) - A venous blood sample (e.g from your arm) tested in a laboratory will detect the great majority of individuals who have been infected with HIV at four weeks after the exposure. A negative result on a fourth generation test performed at four weeks post-exposure is highly likely to exclude HIV infection. A further test at eight weeks post-exposure need only be considered following an event assessed as carrying a high risk of infection.
I have symptoms, what should I do?
If you have symptoms please book an appointment at one of our clinics on 020 3317 5252. You can see a full list of our clinics on our community-based sexual health services page.
Where can I find out more information about my infection?
Find out more information about common sexually transmitted infections, their symptoms and treatment on the FPA webiste.
Who can have the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine?
Visit the NHS Cancer Screening website for more information.
When can I have my first cervical screening?
You will be invited to have your first cervical screening when you're 25-years-old.
How often should I have a cervical screening?
25 to 49-years-old - Every three years
50 to 64-years-old - Every five years
Over 65-years-old - Only screen those who have not been screened since age 50 or have had recent abnormal tests.
Where can I find out more about smear tests?
I've had an abnormal smear result, what does this mean?
I need contraception, what should I do?
We offer a wide range of different methods of contraception at our clinics. If you want to speak to somebody about contraception please book an appointment on 020 3317 5252. If you need emergency contraception please come to one of our clinics.
I think I might need emergency contraception, what should I do?
If you need emergency contraception please come to one of our clinics. You can also get the emergency pill from many pharmacies (chemist shops) across London up to 72-hours after having unprotected sex. Visit the NHS Choices website to find out where your nearest pharmacy is.
To find out more about emergency contraception please visit the FPA website.
I've had a coil or implant inserted recently by your service and would like to speak to someone
Your post insertion leaflet has the contact details of someone in our team who can talk to you about your coil or implant.
What contraception is on offer to me?
There is a wide range of different methods of contraception available to women. It can sometimes be difficult to decide which method will suit you the best. Some women find it helpful to read about the different types before coming into discuss them in clinic. Some women prefer to discuss them during an appointment. You can find out more about contraception on the FPA website and NHS Choices. Brook has an useful contraception tool to help you decide which contraceptive is best for you. If you would like to discuss or start any of these methods of contraception please book an appointment to come and see us.
I am running out of pills what should I do?
Please book an appointment on 020 3317 5252.
I have missed my pill what should I do?
If you take the combined pill (three weeks of pills then one week break) take a look at the FPA's chart (PDF).
If you take the progesterone only pill (one pill taken every day of the month) read the FPA's website information.
I think I might be pregnant, what should I do?
Take a pregnancy test at home with a home kit, or book an appointment with us on 020 3317 5252. If you are pregnant and want advice or want to book a termination of pregnancy NHS Choices has a list of useful contacts.
If you are worried that you may have been at risk of HIV in the last 72-hours and may need post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) take the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) online test.
Herpes association - for more information on the virus.