There are many different forms of contraception, with advantages and drawbacks to each one. You will need to think about how reliable the method is, how easy it is to use, how it will affect your body and if it will protect you from sexually transmitted infections as well. Most forms of contraception need to be prescribed, but are usually free.
For advice about contraception, go to one of the YorSexual Health Clinics at Monkgate, Acomb Front Street or Wenlock Terrace Surgery. YorSexual Health services for students are also at York College and the University of York). See yorsexualhealth.org.uk for opening times. All services are free, confidential and friendly and most offer a choice of appointments and walk-in services. Tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are also offered. You can also go to your GP for free contraception.
Condoms don’t need a prescription, and you can get them for free from many of the places mentioned in this section. All YorSexual Health Clinics provide them as well as Castlegate, Student Support at York College and some sixth forms. They are also available to order online at yorsexualhealth.org.uk (now or soon after going to print).
The Specialist Clinic Outreach Team offer a confidential service to young people up to 25, and you can talk to them about anything to do with sexual health. They offer information, advice, support and treatment. They are based at the YorSexual Health at Monkgate. Call them direct, or ask a support worker or teacher to put you in touch.
York College and Askham Bryan College both run contraceptive and sexual health drop-ins for students. For condoms and other methods of contraception (as well as pregnancy testing and chlamydia screening). Services are free and confidential. Make an appointment at student services.
Brook.org.uk has lots of information about sexual health, body matters, sex, relationships and rights.
Time 2 Project – it can be confusing when someone says they love or care for you or that they are your friend, but isn’t treating you well – whether you are in a relationship with them or not. This could include putting pressure on you to have sex or perform sex acts, giving you gifts or money in return for sex, turning you away from friends and family so that you spend more time with them, or wanting you to go with their friends for sex (or sex acts) ‘as a favour’.
If this is happening to you and you want to talk to someone about this, there is the Time 2 Project which works with young people 11–18. They can meet with you where and when you like. They can help you understand what a healthy relationship means, make positive choices about relationships and also staying healthy and safe.
If you are under 16 you are still entitled to talk in confidence with a doctor nurse or pharmacist (if you are under 13 different rules apply). You can also get a prescription for contraception, condoms or medical treatment in confidence, if they are satisfied that you understand the information and the decisions involved. They will encourage you to discuss the issue with your parents or carers, but they won’t inform them without your consent. The only time a health professional might not be able to keep your confidence is if they believe there is a serious risk to your safety or welfare, such as exploitation or abuse. They would usually discuss this with you first. More information at nhs.uk/worthtalkingabout or brook.org.uk.