FAQs: Your questions answered

We will answer selected questions as soon as we can. Simply send in your question using the ask a question form and then come back to this page a few days later to see whether your question has been selected. We can't guarantee all questions will be answered, and questions will be selected at random. And don't worry, all questions are anonymous and we don't ask for any personal details.

Just one other thing: we can't answer questions about your own personal sexual health or contraceptive pill as it's always best to ask these kinds of questions face to face. Take a look at 'Find services near you' to find details of your local clinic where you will be able to ask your question.

If you have a question about your contraceptive pill, you might be able to find the info you are looking for on the FPA website.

Click on a question to see our answer...

How long does a C-Card last for?

Young people age 13 – 24 years can be registered for C-card. The C-card will expire on their 25th birthday. Find C-card services in your area.

How many condoms are given out each time?

If you have a c-card you can get four free condoms in one visit.

Free condoms are available from all participating Pharmacies, GPs, Youth Centres and Edridge Road Community Health Centre if you live in Croydon and you can get four free condoms per visit.

You can find local services to you here »

What is human trafficking? I am worried about / want to report this. What do I do?

Human trafficking is forcing or tricking a person or people to go to a place where they are hurt and made to do things they don’t want to do, which is called abuse.  Examples include sexual exploitation or abuse, forced work/labour, and child trafficking. It is possible to be a victim of trafficking even if you have been tricked and your consent has been given to being moved.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 999.

If you hold information that could lead to finding, and saving victims in the UK, you can also contact the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You don’t have to give your name.

You can find more information on the National Crime Agency website.

I am worried about abuse and / or I want to report abuse. What do I do?

It can be difficult to talk about bad things that have happened or are happening in your life, but when you are ready to speak to someone, there are many places that can help you to be safe from the person or people who are hurting you; some examples of places that are free of charge to call if you need help, or you know someone who needs help, include:

Childline www.childline.org.uk or telephone 0800 1111

National Domestic Violence Helpline www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk or telephone 0808 2000 247 (lines open 24 hours a day)

Rape Crisis: www.rapecrisis.org.uk or telephone 0808 802 9999 (lines open daily between 12 noon to 2.30pm and 7pm to 9.30pm)

There is also information on our website about different types of abuse.
You can also find information on our website about help available.

I am 13 and I really want to have sex but I know I am way to young and it is very dangerous, so what can I do instead that feels like sex but isn't and is perfectly safe?

At 13 - yes you are young, but it is really normal for someone of your age to be interested in sex, and to wonder what it feels like.

It may be better at your age to spend time with other people your age, and enjoying being with them. There are lots of other things you can do to be close to someone without having full sex- talking, kissing, holding hands and hugging someone all feel really nice! There is no rush to have full sex- take your time to make sure you are really ready. Remember- It is always up to you to decide when you are ready.

In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with exploring your own body (masturbating) to find out what you like and what feels nice.

Take a look at our Are you ready to have sex page for more info, there is a quiz you can take and a check list.

On this page, you will also find a link to download a list of 50 suggestions, from young people in SW London, about how to show someone you love them without having sex.

If I get a STI check myself package, will it be discreet? I don't particularly want my parents to find it?

Thanks for your question. The STI checks by post and in the clinics are all free and confidential. That means no one else will be told that you have had a test or the results of the test. All screening kits ordered from our Checkurself.org.uk website, are sent out in small discreet plain white envelopes with no reference to what is contained inside the package.   

I just turned 16 and me and my girlfriend decided that we should have sex. I'm very nervous about it and i want it to be safe. I was going to one of the clinics nearby which is the Turnaround Centre in Croydon, but when I called them, they said they need to have a chat about it before distributing them to me. I am extremely nervous about it as it will be extremely embarrassing. I need some advice on how should I go there and tell them about my desire to have sex with my girlfriend (who is 17).

Thank you for your interesting question. As difficult as it may be, please do not feel embarrassed or nervous about seeing a health professional and asking questions about sexual health. We encourage and welcome young people to attend clinics so that they can get the right information so that you can be supported in decisions about your sexual health. All young people are treated in a non-judgemental manner and the clinics provide a safe place for you to discuss your concerns. Clinics maintain confidentiality and this is only ever broken in extreme cases, and with the young person’s knowledge. Sexual health clinics provide easy and quick access to condoms, and young people are supported to ensure they know how to use condoms correctly. A wide range of other contraceptives such as the pill or injection, pregnancy testing and chlamydia screening is also available. Please do feel free to attend one of our many clinics in Croydon, including the Turnaround Centre, where you can be seen by a health professional who will be delighted to see you and support you with what you need.

I missed the first two pills of my packet this month and then had unprotected sex. What are the chances I could be pregnant?

Thank you for your question, it's great that you're seeking the correct info so that you can be sure what is happening. However, we only really respond to general questions, not a question about your specific contraceptive pill, particularly as there is more than one answer to this question dependant on each person's circumstances.

To make sure that you receive the correct information for your particular circumstances, we would recommend that you visit your GP or local contraceptive and sexual health services at your earliest opportunity to discuss your situation further. Click here to find your nearest service.

What are the symptoms for Chlamydia?

There are often no symptoms. Around 70-80% of women with chlamydia don't notice any symptoms and around half of all men with chlamydia don't notice any symptoms.

To read more about chlamydia and the symptoms that some people do get, visit the NHS website.

To find a Chlamydia screening service near to you, click here.

If I go to the clinic to be put on the pill, will I get it the same day?

As everyone is different, it's difficult to say. There might be questions and points to discuss that mean the Contraceptive Pill cannot be prescribed the same day. The best thing to do is to go to one of your local clinics and ask to discuss your options. Find your local clinic here.

I am 24 weeks pregnant. Can I get an abortion tomorrow?

Many apologies but we are only able respond to general questions rather than specific questions about an individual's sexual health or circumstances. To make sure you receive timely and appropriate information we would recommend you visit a service near to you. Click here to find your nearest service

Does getting an abortion hurt and is it free?

To find out more about abortion have a look at this really useful booklet from the FPA. Just click this link and a pdf will download. If you'd like to speak to someone, find a clinic local to you.

Can you get the pill that stops your period from the clinics or do you need parent permission to get it?

Thanks for your question. There is a pill to stop your period as a one off such as if you are going on holiday. You can get this from your GP. If you need contraception you can get this from KU19, any sexual health clinic or your GP. Some contraception can reduce or sometimes stop your period.

All these services are free, confidential and won't tell your parents. Please get back if you need more info.

I had unprotected sex about a week ago as a one off. I am a female and it was vaginal sex, I was on my period. My muscles ache and I am scared to death I have HIV. I don't know what to do I know I have to wait a month to be tested but I can't sleep with worry I am so scared please help me. I am 18.

Thank you for your enquiry. There are plenty of places in Sutton that can support you, with people to talk to about your concerns. You can go to one of the clinics. Please click on a link to find out more details:

CASH (Contraception and Sexual Health) Service @ Green Wrythe Lane Clinic
CASH (Contraception and Sexual Health) Service @ Jubilee Health Centre West
GUM Department, St Helier Hospital The Point @ St Helier Hospital

If you have unprotected sex should you wait until your period comes before going to a clinic?

No you should not wait. If you have unprotected sex you should go to your GP, GUM/Sexual Health Clinic or pharmacy and get the emergency contraception pill. Although you have 72 hours to take the pill it is very important that you go as soon as possible as it is more effective the earlier you take it. Although the emergency contraception could stop unwanted pregnancy, there is still the risk of catching sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We advise that you see a healthcare professional as soon as possible to discuss the risks of STIs and possible preventive treatments for some STIs (HIV).

In films when girls have unprotected sex they vomit the next morning. Does this mean they are pregnant and does this happen to everyone? And what does it mean if it doesn't happen?

The movies that we see are set up for our entertainment purposes. In real life settings if you have unprotected sex you will not know if you are pregnant until your next period. Vomiting straight after sex is not a sign that you could be or are pregnant. If this does happen to you then we would recommend that  you to go to see a Doctor, as it could mean that there is another medical condition that has nothing to do with unprotected sex or pregnancy.

If you have unprotected sex you should go to your GP, GUM/Sexual Health Clinic or pharmacy and get the emergency hormonal contraception pill. Although you have 72 hours to take the pill it is very important that you go as soon as possible as it is more effective the earlier you take it. Although the emergency contraception could stop unwanted pregnancy, there is still the risk of catching sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We advise that you see a healthcare professional as soon as possible to discuss the risks of STIs and possible preventive treatments for some STIs (HIV).

I want to know more about the diaphragm and I wanted to know if you can get them at any KU19 clinics?

The diaphragm is not available at KU19 clinics.

You will need to be fitted with one the right size, and shown how to use it.

Have a chat with the nurse or doctor at the clinic about other methods, as the diaphragm is not the most reliable method of contraception.

For more detailed information on different methods of contraception and to try out the My Contraceptive Tool please visit our Contraception page.

You will also find links to other websites on this page to read even more information about the different methods of contraception at www.brook.org.uk and www.fpa.org.uk

For over 18s, do you have to pay for the injection or is it free on the NHS?

All forms of contraception including the depo provera injection is available free from GPs, Contraceptive and Sexual Health clinics and other sexual health and contraceptive providers such as Brook Centres (if you are under 25). Not all GPs give out free condoms, but they are available free from Contraceptive and Sexual Health clinics and other local providers. See local service details if you are 19 or under here. For details of local sexual health services available to adults in South West London, visit www.swish.nhs.uk

Is the contaceptive pill free?

The contraceptive pill and other methods of contraception are free from clinics, doctor practices and young people's clinics. The method is either provided there for free or a prescription is provided for the chemist who will issue the method for free (without paying a prescription charge).

The contraceptive pill is safe and effective. However it is not suitable for everyone. The doctor or nurse will ask questions and do some simple checks like blood pressure and weight. They can then advise whether the pill is an appropriate choice for that person to use. The pill might not be a good choice for someone who has had some health issues such as a blood clot or some types of migraines. If the pill is not suitable alternatives are discussed and the client can decide on their preferred method.

Whenever the pill or other method is given, the doctor or nurse will provide information and leaflets to explain the method in detail.

Click here to find services near to you.

Can you get pregnant while you are on your period?

It is very unlikely you could get pregnant if you have sex when you are on your period, but it's not impossible! For that reason it's best to protect yourself from getting pregnant by using a condom.

Click on the area you live in from the list below to see where you can get Free Condoms.

See how to use a condom with pictures here.

Is it possible to have 2 STIs at the same time?

It is possible to have more than one STI at a time - in fact it is quite common. That is why it is so important to go to a GUM or sexual health clinic to be tested if you have had unprotected sex.

Most STIs can be treated and it’s usually best if treatment is started as soon as possible.

STIs can be passed from one person to another after unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex, or intimate contact. Using condoms every time you have sex will offer you good protection against STIs.

To find your nearest clinic where you can be tested and treated for STIs, click your borough from the list below.


I want to come in and get tested and I'm not sure how to go about it?

There are Point Clinics specifically for young people. All you have to do is arrive, you don't need to book an appointment. Click here to find your nearest Point clinic. You can find information about visiting a clinic and also watch a video here.


What is PID?

PID stands for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. It can be acute (lasting less than 1 month) or chronic (lasting longer than 1 month) and is usually triggered by a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).

PID only affects women and causes inflammation of the upper genital tract, affecting the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. PID is often without symptoms, however if symptoms are present these may include pelvic pain, vaginal discharge, irregular periods, more painful periods, bleeding in-between periods or after sex and fever.

Risk of PID is higher in those women with untreated Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea. In severe cases untreated PID can cause complications such as infertility or ectopic pregnancy. The advice is similar to that given to reduce the spread of STIs - use a condom and get a regular check ups for STIs at GUM clinics.

Click on your area below to find out where you can be tested and treated for STIs.


Can you get an STI without having sex?

STIs are usually passed from one person to another by sexual contact-this can be oral, vaginal or anal sex, or intimate skin to skin contact. Some STIs can also be passed on by sharing needles if someone is taking drugs. You cannot catch a sexually transmitted infection from a toilet seat! Using condoms will greatly protect you from catching STIs. It is important to remember that some people are born with HIV, if their mother has HIV.

Does taking the morning after pill hurt as it works on you?

Taking the morning after pill is very safe and does you no harm. It doesn't hurt when you take it, but a very small number of girls who take it feel a bit sick afterwards. If you have unprotected sex, you can take the morning after pill up to 72 hours afterwards, but the sooner you take it the better chance it will work. Taking the morning after pill can disrupt your periods and your period could be early or up to a week late.

If you have unprotected sex in the 7 day break of the birth control pill is it possible to get pregnant?

If you are taking the pill correctly, and don't miss any tablets, you are protected against getting pregnant all the time - even in the 7 day break.

Do condoms completely protect you against STIs?

Condoms are the only protection against STIs and are 98% effective. Using them allows you and your partner to relax and enjoy sex whilst keeping yourself safe. No type of contraception is totally 100% safe, as sometimes people don't always use them properly and also accidents can happen. Sexually transmitted infections can be transmitted by oral sex and other very close physical body contact as well as full sexual intercourse.

How do you use a condom?

Condoms are only safe if they are used properly. See the How To Use A Condom page for advice and pictures on how to put a condom on and some of the problems to avoid.

How do you know when you are in love?

That's a tough question and not an easy one to answer! What feels like love to one person can be different for another. It is not based on physical attraction alone (this would be lust) but things like caring, friendship, respect, commitment and trust. You can feel different types of love for different people like your family, friends or your boy/girl friend. In a relationship two people should feel good about themselves and each other. There should be no place for violence, abuse or taking advantage of each other.

How should someone approach talking to their parents about sex?

Most surveys show that young people want to talk to their parents about sex and relationships. They can be a really great source of information and advice. It is best to pick a time when your parent isn't stressed or busy doing something so you know they will have the time to speak to you. Talking about sex can be embarrassing so if it feels easier you could use things happening on soaps, TV programmes, adverts or magazines to get the conversation started.

What happens if you have sex before you are 16?

The legal age someone can agree or consent to have sex in England is 16. This is the same whether you are gay, straight or bisexual. The laws are there to protect young people from abuse or from having sex before they are ready. The age at which someone feels ready to have sex can differ. Before having sex for the first time think carefully about whether it’s right for you. Lots of people who have sex too young say they regret it later. Even if you are under 16, you can still get free and confidential advice from your GP, local GUM or family planning clinic.

Click on your area from the list below to find out where your nearest services are.


What is masturbation?

Masturbation is touching your own or someone else's genitals for sexual pleasure. It can be part of foreplay with your partner or a natural and normal way of exploring your own body so you know what's pleasurable for you.

What is the most convenient, accurate, embarrassment free and least stressful place to get tested for STIs?

The best place to go to is a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic. Staff are fully trained and friendly and there is no need to feel embarrassed as they are used to dealing with sexual health concerns all day, every day. You can be treated for all STIs and you only need to pee in a pot or give a swab so it's simple and painless.

In South West London there are GUM clinics called 'The Point' which are only for under 18's so you can choose one of these if you would rather only be there with people your own age. All 'The Point' clinics are drop-in so there's no need to make an appointment and you can also get advice, free condoms and pregnancy testing as well if you want. Click on your area below to find where your nearest clinic is.


What would be the best way to ask a girl/boy out?

There isn't one way that always works it depends very much on the person you want to ask out, how well you know them and how easily you can approach them. Try finding a shared interest like a film or favourite band you can talk about. Get to know one another and try and get a sense of whether the other person likes you too. It can be scary but if you get a feeling you both feel the same be brave and just ask.

When is the right time and how will you know?

The right time is different for everyone. The most important thing is that you don't feel pressured into having sex. There can be quite a lot of pressure to feel like you should be having a sexual relationship but it can be a bigger step than people think. Read Are You Ready? for a few questions you can ask yourself which will help you decide whether you are ready. If you have any doubts or think you will have regrets then it may be better to wait. In this section, you will also find a list of ways some young people we talked to suggested you can show someone you love them without having sex.

Is it illegal to have unprotected sex with someone when you know you have an STI and you don’t tell them and they end up getting it?

At present the only STI you can be prosecuted for knowingly transmitting is HIV in England and Wales.

When is someone found guilty of reckless HIV transmission?

In England and Wales, you may be found guilty of reckless HIV transmission if all of the below apply:
You had sex with someone who didn’t know you had HIV.
You knew you had HIV at that time.
You understood how HIV is transmitted.
You had sex without a condom.
You transmitted HIV to that person.

What is the penalty when someone is found guilty?

In England and Wales, the penalty is a maximum prison sentence of five years for each person someone is found guilty of infecting. There is no minimum sentence. Non-UK residents can be recommended for deportation upon completion of their sentence.

Intentional transmission

Someone can only be charged with intentional transmission if it can be proved they maliciously and intentionally tried to give the other person HIV. Although many cases start with this allegation, so far the charges have always been reduced to reckless transmission before reaching trial. There is often confusion, with people assuming that anyone who knows they have HIV and then transmits it must have done so ‘intentionally’, but this is not so – either legally or in everyday life. However, the maximum sentence for intentional transmission is life imprisonment, so it is vital to get good legal advice if this is the charge.

How can I avoid STI transmission?

Condoms are the best way to protect you from STIs. Condoms should be used for anal, oral, vaginal sex and sharing of sex toys. The simplest way of avoiding prosecution is to make sure that you have confidence to talk to your partners about previous sexual risks and if you know you have an STI, and that whatever sex you have is consensual.

Taken from www.tht.org.uk