Contraception and sexual health

All forms of contraception are available, except caps and diaphragms. Emergency contraception should be requested as soon as possible after the risk of pregnancy has been identified, but may be effective up to 5 days after risk-taking behaviour has occurred.

As there is a small risk of pregnancy even when oral emergency contraception has been appropriately taken, it is important not to rely on this method and take repeated risks.

Whenever consulting for contraception, it is an opportunity to review your sexual health and to consider requesting a screen for sexually transmitted infection (that can be done using self-taken swabs or by providing a urine sample). Most people infected with HIV are heterosexual and the frequency of infection in Birmingham is now above 1 in 2000, which not only requires NHS services to offer HIV tests to anyone who has an ‘indicator condition’, such as community acquired pneumonia, but also to offer universal screening of adults.

Please do not be offended if the doctor or nurse offers you an HIV test – it is simply good practice. Nationally, it is recognised that a significant proportion of people with HIV are undiagnosed and that their prognosis is much improved by early diagnosis. Anyone who is concerned can, in complete confidence, request an HIV test.