Your health and wellbeing is important and the same goes for your sexual health.
Contraception is essential to prevent unwanted pregnancy and also to protect you against sexually transmitted infections (“STIs”).
There is a wide is a wide range of contraceptive options out there, but condoms are the only method of contraception which offers protection from STIs (including HIV).
Many people use alternative methods of contraception as well as, or instead of, condoms. These include the combined pill, coil/IUD, mini pill, contraceptive injection or implant. Which is the best method for you will depend on a number of personal factors, we recommend speaking your GP to discuss this.
No method of contraception is 100% effective, and accidents (split condoms, missed pills...) do happen. Emergency contraception can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex to avoid unwanted pregnancy.
You can get emergency contraception (sometimes called the “morning after pill”) which is free for most people in the UK, and there are are about 15 types to choose from.
Find out what's available and where you can get it.
You can get free contraception and condoms from:
- most GP surgeries (talk to your GP or practice nurse)
- community contraceptive clinics
- some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
- sexual health clinics (these offer contraceptive and STI testing services)
- some young people's services
Find your nearest sexual health service, including contraceptive clinics.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
STI'S can be passed on through a variety of sexual activities. Symptoms vary from person to person, and some may have no noticeable symptoms at all.
Condoms are the only method of contraception capable of preventing STIs, provided they’re used properly. If you’re not sure how to put a condom on properly, you can remind yourself at:
Some tips to stay healthy:
- Always use a condom!
- If you do have unprotected sex, get yourself tested for STIs at a sexual health clinic.
- If you are thinking about not using condoms with your partner, make sure you both get tested for STIs beforehand.
If you are worried that you may have been exposed to HIV, there is treatment available to stop you becoming infected. Either visit your Doctors or Sexual Health Clinic.
You can get tested for STIs at:
- a sexual health clinic – find STI services near you
- some community contraceptive clinics – find contraceptive services near you
- some sexual health services – call the national sexual health line on 0300 123 7123, or Worth Talking About (for under-18s) on 0300 123 2930
- some GP surgeries
Some pharmacies can also test for chlamydia.
Find out where you can get a free chlamydia test through the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (under-25s only).
Last Updated October 2022