Sue Dobson
  Written by Sue Dobson - MRPharmS, BPharm Hons - Business Mentor


Your Pharmacist and Sexual Health

Have you or a friend ever woken up panicking after having a few drinks the night before with someone you have fancied for ages and ended up having unprotected sex?

This can be very worrying as it may not just be the risk of pregnancy to be concerned about. Having unprotected sex can also lead to a Sexually Transmitted Infection or STI.

Sexual health advice

Pharmacies have always played an important role in providing sexual health services and you can speak to the pharmacist for advice without having to make an appointment. Most pharmacies have a private consultation area if you would prefer to speak with the pharmacist about something that you are perhaps embarrassed about without other people listening.


‘I was so relieved after I visited my local pharmacy and spoke to the pharmacist. I was worried about being pregnant and hadn’t even considered the possible risk of an STI. The pharmacist asked me if I’d like to chat in the private room they had, which was great and made me feel more at ease. They asked me a few questions and then gave me the morning after pill and talked to me about the risk of STIs and gave me a free Chlamydia testing kit to do at home. They were really supportive and helpful. I will be carrying condoms in the future!’

Emergency Contraception Services

You can buy the ‘morning after pill’, or other emergency contraception services, from pharmacies. In some pharmacies, this may be available free of charge so it’s always good to check. The pharmacist will ask a few questions to check that emergency hormonal contraception is suitable and give you advice on how to take it.  

If taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex, emergency hormonal contraception can usually prevent pregnancy. A missed period after taking the ‘morning after pill’ may mean the risk of pregnancy is still there, so a pregnancy testing kit can be bought from your local pharmacy. There is a wide range of testing kits available and your pharmacist will be able to provide you with advice and explain how to carry out a pregnancy test. They will also be able to signpost you to where you can get advice and support if the result is positive.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

STIs can be passed from person to person through having sex without using a condom, and many STIs do not have any obvious symptoms.

Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in young people. If not detected and treated with antibiotics, Chlamydia can spread to other parts of the body with longer term health consequences including infertility. You can get a free Chlamydia testing kit from your local pharmacy or GP surgery, or speak to your pharmacist and they will be able to signpost you to where you can be tested for Chlamydia and other STIs.

Not having condoms is the most common reason for people having unprotected sex. To avoid the worry about an unplanned pregnancy or catching a sexually transmitted infection, always carry condoms. You can buy a wide range of condoms from you local Alphega pharmacy, which can be found on our Pharmacy Locator page.



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