Find out about confidential sexual health services, including contraception, testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and advice on unplanned pregnancy, even if you're under 16 years old.
Sexual health services (contraception and pregnancy advice, or tests for STIs, including HIV) are free and confidential.
If you're 13 to 16, you have the same rights to confidentiality as an adult and the doctor, nurse or pharmacist won't tell your parents, or anyone else, as long as they believe that you fully understand the information and decisions involved.
They'll encourage you to consider telling your parents or carers, but they won't make you.
Even if the doctor, nurse or pharmacist feels that you're not mature enough to make a decision yourself, the consultation will still be confidential. They won't tell anyone that you saw them, or anything about what you said.
The only time a professional might want to tell someone else is if they believe there is a risk to your safety or welfare, such as abuse. The risk would need to be serious, and they would usually discuss this with you first.
The situation is different for people under 13, because the law says that people of this age can't consent (say yes) to sexual activity. If you're under 13, doctors, nurses and health workers might feel it's in your best interests to involve other people, such as a social worker.
What you can get from sexual health services
If the healthcare worker feels that you understand the information and can make your own decision, you can get advice on the following:
- emergency contraception (the morning after pill or an intrauterine device [IUD])
- unplanned pregnancy
- tests and treatments for STIs, including HIV
Help and advice on sexual health
For more information about sexual health services for young people, contact:
- Brook - the young people's sexual health charity for under-25s.
- FPA - provider of information on individual methods of contraception, common STIs, pregnancy choices, abortion and planning a pregnancy.
- The national sexual health line - on 0300 123 7123 (a confidential helpline).
Further information about sexual health
Article provided by NHS Choices