Sexual health information for young people

New Year opening times

For information about our specialist sexual health service provider’s opening times visit the Unity Sexual Health website.

Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of pressure, discrimination and violence.

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Free and confidential specialist sexual health services   

Unity Sexual Health

Unity Sexual Health is the specialist sexual health service provider covering South Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset.

They provide free and confidential sexual health services on a drop-in or appointment basis within South Gloucestershire and surrounding areas. This includes designated clinics for under 20s.

To make an appointment or to speak to someone for advice phone 0117 342 6900 or visit www.unitysexualhealth.co.uk for information on sexual health services. 

Pregnancy concerns and choices

If you are worried about pregnancy options and want advice straight away, please call 0345 872 5435 or 0117 3426900.

If you have had unprotected sex less than 120hrs (5 days) ago you can still use emergency contraception to reduce the risk of becoming pregnant. Even if the unprotected sex was more than 120hrs ago and you want to try and reduce your risk of becoming pregnant you should call 0117 342 6900 straight away.

Please see the section below on Emergency Contraception for more information.  

If you think you may be pregnant, you will need to do a pregnancy test. If you have regular periods, you can test from the first day of a missed period or 21 days from the last unprotected sex you had. Tests done earlier than this may not be accurate.

If the test is positive, this means you are pregnant. All pregnancy tests, when carried out correctly and at the right time, are reliable. This includes tests that you buy from the pharmacy or supermarket to do yourself.

If you don’t have regular periods, and the test is negative, you should repeat the test at least three weeks (21 days) from the last time that you had unprotected sex.

You can get free pregnancy test kits from some Unity Sexual Health clinics, incl. Brook Young People’s clinic (details can be found on their clinics page). Some GP surgeries may also provide free pregnancy testing kits. Kits can also be purchased, incl. by those under 16 at supermarkets and pharmacies.

If you have had a positive test result you will need to think about which of the following choices feel right for you:

  • Continue with the pregnancy and keep the baby (you can ask about extra support available, if needed)
  • Continue with the pregnancy and have the baby adopted
  • End the pregnancy by having an abortion. Information about having an abortion locally can be found here

Some people find it easiest to talk to family and friends about their options, others might want to talk to someone outside their family.

If you would like to talk to someone at Unity’s Pregnancy Advisory Service, please call 0345 872 5435.

Emergency contraception (the morning after pill)

If you have had unprotected sex and want to reduce the risk of becoming pregnant you will need to use emergency contraception. Some people refer to emergency contraception as the ‘morning after pill’.

Emergency hormonal contraception is available free from most local pharmacies to those aged 24 and under (including under 16s). It is also available free for people of any age from your GP practice and all Unity sexual health clinics (incl. Brook Young People's clinic).

Emergency hormonal contraception should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex but can be taken up to 5 days after. If more than 5 days have passed since unprotected sex, you should still seek advice by visiting a Unity sexual health clinic or phoning 0117 342 6900.

It is important to note that using emergency contraception is not the same as having an abortion. Emergency contraception works to prevent a pregnancy occurring in the first place, whereas an abortion ends a pregnancy that has already begun.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Chlamydia remains the most common STI amongst sexually active young people under 25 – but it is not the only STI.

STIs can be passed from one person to another through vaginal, oral and anal sex. You are most at risk if you have had sex without a condom, but it is still possible to get an infection when a condom has been used. It is a good idea to get tested following sex with any new partner(s). 

If you have had unprotected sex, or sex with a new partner, and have concerns about possible symptoms, call Unity Sexual Health on 0117 342 6900 to discuss your situation and arrange to be tested.

If you have no symptoms, and are aged 16 or over, you can order a test kit online. Test kits are also available from your GP surgery, most local pharmacies and through some colleges (ask at the student support service). The following wait times MUST be reached before you can accurately test for the infection:

  • 2 weeks after your last episode of sexual contact if testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea
  • 45 days after your last episode of sexual contact if testing for HIV
  • 3 months after your last episode of sexual contact if testing for Syphilis or Hepatitis

Test kits will contain full instructions on completion. Testing is free and confidential. If you return a positive test result you will most commonly be treated with a course of antibiotics to cure the infection. Some infections, like HIV, can’t be cured but can be treated effectively.  

Where else can I access sexual health information, advice or services?

Your GP surgery can give you confidential information about sexual health, pregnancy, and abortion. They can also provide contraception and/or testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You have the right to book your own appointment and attend the appointment alone, even if you are under 16.

The surgery may ask what the appointment is for, this is to ensure you see an appropriate health care professional at the right time – if you feel awkward or embarrassed saying what it is for, you have the option to say it’s for ‘something personal’. They may encourage you to attend with an adult relative, which can be helpful for some people, but it is your choice whether to do this, or not. You don’t have to.

You can also talk confidentially to a public health school nurse. They usually run a weekly drop-in clinic at secondary schools. They will have information and advice about healthy relationships and sexual health. They can also signpost or refer you to another service if that’s what you want or need. 

The National Sexual Health Helpline

If you would like to talk to someone about a sexual health you can call the national sexual health helpline free on 0300 123 7123. Your call will be treated with sensitivity and in the strictest confidence. The Sexual Health helpline is open from 9am - 8pm Monday to Friday. 

Free condoms

South Gloucestershire operates a free condom distribution scheme called C.Card. The C.Card scheme is a confidential service designed to enable those aged 13 to 19 to get access to free condoms, sexual health advice and signposting or referral to additional sexual health services. You first need to register for a c.card which involves a consultation with a trained worker and will include learning how to use condoms safely.

The C.Card scheme is available in secondary schools via the weekly public health school nurse drop-in clinic (ask your school for details). It is also available at all SGS College sites, usually via the student support service.

Some GP surgeries provide registration to the scheme, usually during booked appointments for contraception or other sexual health care. You can also register to the scheme at Brook Young People’s Clinic, part of Unity Sexual Health. Once registered to the scheme, you can collect condoms from any of the venues mentioned above. 

Consent

Sex should be enjoyable and must always be agreed to by everyone involved. Giving consent means saying 'yes', freely, without being forced and without being concerned or worried about what will happen if you say ‘No’. Consenting to one sexual act doesn’t mean you have consented to other forms of sexual activity. Giving consent might also be done by using body language which shows the other person that you are enjoying yourself and are happy and comfortable, equally body language that shows you are not happy means you are not consenting.

It is important to remember that you always have a right to say no and/or to withdraw your consent at any time. It doesn’t matter who the other person is, what your relationship with them is, how far you’ve gone with them or others in the past.

Physical, emotional and psychological pressure may be used to force someone else into sexual activity. Just because someone does not hold you down and make you engage in a sexual act against your will or if you do not say ‘no’, it does not mean you have consented.

Any sort of sexual contact without consent is illegal, whatever the age of the people involved.

If consent is NOT given (to any sort of sexual activity) then this is classed as rape or sexual assault. This can include sexual touching, oral, anal or vaginal sex with a penis or with any other type of object.

Sexual violence and abuse

Hurting someone, using threatening or manipulative behaviour, controlling someone, or forcing someone to do something they have not agreed to is not legal or acceptable, whether in a relationship or not. If you or someone you know has experienced this type of abuse or violence please report it and get help.

Call 999 if a crime is happening now or you or someone is in immediate danger.

Getting help and support after an incident of rape or sexual violence

 If something sexual has happened to you that you didn’t consent to, or didn’t want to consent to, or if you have experienced an incident of rape, sexual assault or sexual violence there are free and confidential local services listed below that can help and support you. You won’t be blamed, you will be believed, you don’t need to have reported the incident to the Police to use these services and it will remain your choice whether you report the incident to the Police in the future.  

Safelink

Safelink provide independent support for anyone (women, men, or children) who has been the victim of rape and sexual abuse across the whole of Avon and Somerset area. You do NOT have to report to the police to access our services. We also provide women’s mental health and domestic abuse support services.

Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS)

SARSAS is a support service for people who have experienced sexual violence at any point in their life.

Women and girls, call 0808 801 0456
Office hours:

Monday and Friday, 11am to 2pm

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 6pm-8.30pm

Men and boys, call 0808 801 0464
Office hours:

Monday, 11am to 2pm

Tuesday, 6pm-8.30pm

Kinergy counselling service

Kinergy is a registered charity offering counselling up to 24 weeks, group work and a monthly support group to men and women who are survivors of sexual abuse and rape. Based in Kingswood, Kinergy works with people from the surrounding areas – predominantly South Gloucestershire and Bristol, and people travel from as far as Bath and North East Somerset.

Kinergy has over 20 years of experience in providing specialist trauma informed counselling. They recognise the deep and far reaching effects of sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse. There is a deep understanding of how sexual abuse and childhood sexual abuse can affect all areas of a person’s life and the aim is to provide a safe, accepting and supportive environment, where people can come to terms with the past, enjoy the present and look forward to the future.

Kinergy also provides counselling through the iaptus referral pathway (NHS) as a specialist counselling agency step 3.

To find out more about these services call 0117 908 7712 or

Email: contact@kinergy.org.uk

Everyone has the right to be treated with respect including in sexual relationships.

A wide range of confidential sexual health services is available in South Gloucestershire for all ages, sexualities and communities. Go to www.unitysexualhealth.co.uk

The Survivor Pathway is an online resource for ANYONE wanting to know more about specialist violence support services. Go to www.survivorpathway.org.uk

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