Sometimes it can feel like there are so many reasons not to visit sexual health services. Often though, these things are either unlikely to happen or are less important in the grand scheme of things.
Below are common concerns that young people have about visiting these services. Tap on the things you are worried about, and hopefully we’ll put your mind at ease!
I will feel really nervous
It’s normal to feel nervous, embarrassed or scared before going to a clinic, but don’t let it stop you. It’s better to go and get answers, than not go, and stay nervous. If you don’t feel confident going, here are some tips: take a friend along; rehearse what to say and imagine it all going well; watch our videos about what to expect.
I may have to wait around to be seen
Often there’s a short wait to be seen at services, especially if you don’t have an appointment. Expect this and plan for it. If you do end up having to wait, don’t be tempted to leave. Remind yourself why you are there. Things are unlikely to change and if you come back another day, you may have to wait again.
I may have to have painful or embarrassing tests
If you have STI testing then you may experience some brief discomfort (see our videos about what to expect). Some people find that it helps to try and imagine they are elsewhere in these situations (eg. somewhere relaxing). Try and relax your body and remember it will be over very quickly. The long-term effects of having untreated STI will be worse.
I might not understand everything
The people you speak to will try their best to explain things simply and clearly. If there’s something you are unsure about then just say, this shows that you are taking things seriously and want to understand. Also, ask as many questions as you want to so that you leave feeling confident with the information and advice you’ve been given.
I might be seen
Visiting sexual health services is perfectly normal; thousands of young people do it every day. You shouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen doing this – it’s a healthy, mature thing for a young person to do. If you’re still worried, think of another reason you could be there in advance eg. having a colposcopy at a STI clinic, or being a mystery shopper.
My mum or dad might find out
Sexual health services are required by law to keep the details of your visit confidential, whatever your age. That means that the people you speak to will not tell anyone about your visit or share any of the details, that includes with your parents, guardian or your GP. The only time they would do this is if you gave them reason to think that you or someone else was at serious risk of harm.
I don't know where to go
Go to our find a service page and we’ll direct you to your nearest sexual health service. You can filter by service type (eg. contraception, pregnancy testing), then choose the service that’s right for you. We’ll provide you with directions, and some of services even have photos of the outside and inside so you know what to expect.
The staff might gossip about me
Sexual health professionals advise and treat young people regularly. You can expect staff to: talk to you privately, keep your visit confidential, not to discuss the details with other colleagues (except if they need advice), not to judge, and to provide clear information. If that’s not your experience then let others know by providing comments and ratings on the service via Find a Service.
The receptionist might ask me why I’m there in front of other people
Don’t worry, we have a solution! Download and print out one of our request slips. All you need to do is show it to the receptionist on arrival and this will tell them what you want. If you have a smartphone, you can just show the request slip on there to save printing it off.
I might be told something I don’t want to hear
There’s the possibility you may receive unwanted news. Not getting tested doesn’t make it go away and you’ll just become increasingly anxious. It also risks making the problem worse in the long-run. By getting tested, you’ll be doing something positive and if you do receive unwanted news then you’ll be supported in making a decision that’s right for you.
I’ll be asked personal questions
Yes, telling the doctor about your sex life is personal so it can be awkward. What you will be asked will depend on where you go and why you are there (see our videos about what to expect). Remember to answer questions honestly, leaving out information may mean you don’t get the advice or treatment you need.