Family planning services are defined as educational, comprehensive medical or social activities which enable individuals, including minors, to determine freely the number and spacing of their children and to select the means by which this may or may not be achieved. Essentially, family planning may involve the consideration of the number of children a woman wishes to have, including the choice to have no children, as well as the age at which she wishes to have children.

These matters tend to be determined by external factors such as your career considerations, financial position, and any disabilities that may affect your ability to have a child and raise it. If you are sexually active, family planning may involve the use of contraception and other techniques to control the timing of any reproduction.

With this in mind, in this blog we outline some of the things you need to know in regards to the services available from a family planning clinic.Don’t let the name fool you, it doesn’t strictly mean you are ‘planning’ for a family’, a clinic can provide you with a range of services all related to your sexual health. Read on to find out more about some of the reasons you may want to pay your family planning clinic a visit.

Who can use sexual health clinics?

Anybody is eligible to go to a sexual health clinic, no matter what your age. Some clinics even hold sessions for specific groups, including young people, and LGBTQ+ groups.

You may have to make an appointment with your GP, while others offer ‘drop-in’ sessions, where you can turn up without an appointment.

Appropriate arrangements should be put in place so patients with special requirements can access sexual health services if they require them, for example, providing access to interpreters.

There are also clinics and facilities avalible for people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, people who’ve been sexually assaulted, sex workers and those who misuse substances.

All services are completely confidential, and all tests are optional.

STI testing

If you have had unprotected sex (without a condom), there’s a chance you could have caught a sexually transmitted infection (STI). if you attend a family planning clinic, you will be able to get yourself tested if you have concerns you may have:

  • haven’t got symptoms, but are concerned you might have an STI

  • have symptoms, such as an irregular discharge

  • feel something is wrong internally

If you’re sexually active, either stop having sex or make sure you use a condom until you know for sure whether or not you have an STI. If you do have an STI, using a condom will help prevent passing it on. Your sexual partners should also get tested.

You can get confidential advice and treatment from your GP or specialist clinics in your area, even if you’re under 16.

Most STIs are very easily treated, so don’t be worried about having a test and finding you do have an STI.

Family planning clinics can offer testing for STIs, such as:

  • Chlamydia

  • gonorrhoea

  • syphilis

  • genital herpes

Depending on which STIs you’re tested for, tests may include:

  • An examination of your genitals, anus, mouth and skin

  • giving a urine sample

  • having a blood sample taken

  • a swab from your urethra (the tube through which you pass urine) for both men and women

  • a swap from your throat

  • for women, a swab from your vagina or cervix (lower part of the womb)

  • an internal examination for women

Do you expect you may be pregnant?

If you expect you may be pregnant, you’ll need to take a standard pregnancy test. The sooner you do this the more time you’ll be giving yourself to decide what you want to do beyond this point. There are lots of places where you can have a pregnancy test and get confidential advice, including your GP.

These include:

  • some pharmacies

  • a sexual health clinic (GUM clinic)

  • a contraception clinic

you are pregnant

If you’re pregnant and this pregnancy is unplanned, you’ll need to decide if you want to continue with the pregnancy. If you decide to have an abortion, the sooner this is done, the easier and safer it is. But, you might want to take time making your decision, which is why it’s important to find out if you’re pregnant as quickly as possible.

Nobody needs to know you’re pregnant until you’re ready to tell inform them. You can ask to see a female doctor if it would make you feel more at ease. If you decide to continue with the pregnancy, you should start your pregnancy (antenatal) care as soon as possible.

This will include health checks for you and your baby. Your GP can discuss this with you.

You have not been taking your contraceptive pill

There is a distinct possibility that you are not protected against pregnancy if you have forgotten to take your pill. This is dependent on the type of pill you’re taking, how many doses you have missed already, and how many pills are left in the pack.Keep taking the pill and see your doctor, nurse or pharmacist as soon as possible for guidance.

If you have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, you could consider using another method of contraception, such as the contraceptive implant, contraceptive injection or IUD. This means you don’t have to think about your contraception every day or every time you have sex.

Cervical screenings

A cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina. it’s a test that is put in place to help prevent cervical cancer. All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited via letter.

During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.The sample is tested for changes to the cells of your cervix.

Finding abnormal changes early means they can be monitored or treated so they do not get a chance to turn into cervical cancer. You’ll get your results by letter, usually in about 2 weeks.

Are these services confidential?

Yes, all these services are confidential. This means that your personal information, or any information for that matter about your visit and the tests and treatments that you’ve had will not be shared with anyone outside that service without your permission.

Even if you’re under 16 you have the same right to confidentiality as anyone else. Don’t be afraid to ask if you’re not sure who’ll see your information.

Duality Health – Family Planning Clinic which can offer you confidential guidance and support on contraception and women’s health

If you are seeking support and guidance in regards to family planning, Duality Health is here to help. In addition to our private smear test service we also offer advice on contraception and STI testing. Based on your medical history we can assess and prescribe oral contraceptives, give advice and administer the contraceptive injection and also replace or remove the contraceptive implant.

Whatever your requirements are in regard to family planning or cervical screening, the team at Duality Health can help. We have helped many people since our establishment and have the experience, expertise and qualifications that you’d expect from an established private clinic. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or a book an appointment online.