Frequently asked questions

Here are some questions that the school nurses often get asked:

Q: I am a smoker, but only young. Can I just give up when I'm older?

A: Smoking is addictive. The younger you start, the harder it will be for you to give up when you are older and the greater the risk of disease.

Want to give up? Contact your school nurse or use the quitting tools provided by NHS Smokefree

Q: Drinking alcohol is not as harmful as taking drugs, is it?

A: Alcohol can affect people in many different ways, and can be as powerful as other drugs.  It will often exaggerate whatever mood you are in. One drink too many can leave you feeling out of control, for example slurring your words, losing your balance and vomiting. Serious overindulgence can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can put you in a coma or even kill you. For advice on alcohol and other drugs visit

Q: Is it true that alcohol affects women more than men?

A: Yes. Alcohol can affect women more than men. Women are often smaller and in general, their bodies don’t process alcohol as efficiently as men’s. They tend to absorb more alcohol and take longer to break it down and remove it from their bodies. For advice on alcohol and other drugs visit

Q: I think I might be pregnant, where can a get a pregnancy test?

A: Any of the contraception and sexual health clinics in Hillingdon:

Q: How will I know if I have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

A: You may show no symptoms at all and still have an STI. If you have had unprotected sex (even once) you need a test to be sure. 

You can be tested at:

These are confidential services. For more information contact your school nurse.

Q: What is chlamydia and is it really a big deal?

A: Chlamydia is the most common STI in the UK and it affects boys and girls. In 2012, 206,912 people tested positive for chlamydia in England. 64% of people diagnosed with chlamydia were under 25 years old. Most people who have chlamydia don’t notice any symptoms, and so don't know they have it. If chlamydia isn’t treated, the infection can sometimes spread to other parts of your body and lead to serious long-term health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. To diagnose it you only need to have a simple urine test and it is treated with antibiotics. Free sexual health testing is carried out at young people's sexual health clinics in Hillingdon.

Q: If I go to a young person’s clinic will they tell my parents?

A: No. You can have confidential advice and treatment from doctors and nurses. There are circumstances where doctors and nurses may have to disclose information, however, they will discuss this with you beforehand.

Q: What is emergency contraception and when can I take it?

A: If you have unprotected sex or your contraception didn’t work properly you can take emergency contraception (also known as the morning after pill) to help prevent pregnancy.


  • Levonelle - emergency contraceptive pill (can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex)
  • EllaOne - emergency contraceptive pill (can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex)
  • The emergency intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic and copper device that is fitted into your womb up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex.

The earlier the emergency contraception is taken, the more effective it is.

The Family Planning Association provides more information about emergency contraception.