- Your doctor or nurse shouldn’t tell anyone if you talk to them about anything to do with sex, unless they are worried that you are being exploited or abused
- You should be able to get contraception, and help and support if you are pregnant
- Your rights as a child are there to protect you from being forced to have sex if you don’t want to – but also to keep you safe if you do want to have sex
Finding out about sex and contraception is part of your development and you should be able to have accurate information that means you can make the right choices. You might not want to talk to your parents or carer about this, but there are doctors and nurses who will be able to talk to you and give you any help you need, without telling your parents if you don’t want them to.
Contraception is something that will stop you getting pregnant if you have sex. There are different kinds of contraception, including pills that you take every day, hormone patches which you wear on your skin like a plaster, or implants, or ‘barrier’ contraception like condoms.
If you’re over 16, you can talk to a doctor or nurse about contraception and sex and get a prescription for contraception without any other adult being involved. The only time this might not happen is if the doctor was worried that you didn’t fully understand what was involved.
If you’re under 16, you can also talk to a doctor or nurse on your own and they should keep everything confidential. If the doctor is happy that you understand the implications of contraception, what’s involved, and any risks, he or she can also give you contraception without your parents knowing.
If the doctor or nurse is concerned that you are at risk of harm, like sexual abuse or exploitation, he or she may tell someone else and give them information that will help keep you safe and well. The doctor or nurse can do this even if you have told them that you don't want anyone else to know, but they can only pass on information that is relevant to your safety. He or she can also do this if you are 16 or older.
If you are female and had sex without contraception, there’s a possibility that you could be pregnant. If you don’t want this, you can get emergency contraception which will reduce the risk of you getting pregnant. Your doctor, or a sexual health clinic should be able to give you a prescription for emergency contraception, even if you are under 16, as long as they are happy that you understand the implications. In Wales, some chemists and pharmacies can give you emergency contraception for free without a prescription.
If you are male and have unprotected sex with a female partner, she might become pregnant. You can discuss the available options with your partner, including the use of emergency contraception, if you both wish to avoid pregnancy.
You of your female partner have to take emergency contraception very soon after you have had unprotected sex for it to work. If either of you are worried about being pregnant, go and see your doctor or family planning clinic as soon as possible.
Although the doctor has to keep your discussions confidential, he or she may try and persuade you to talk to your parents or carer about what’s going on, to make sure you have the right kind of support.
if you have unprotected sex you may be at risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from your partner. men and women can develop STIs, and this can happen to you if you have unprotected sex whether your partner is male or female. STIs can have serious consequences, so if you have had unprotected sex, it may be beneficial to visit a doctor or sexual health clinic and be tested. If you do have an STI, you can receive treatment and support. As with discussions about contraception and pregnancy, you have a right to confidentiality, and information should only be passed on if the doctor or health professional is worried that you are at risk.
If you think you might be pregnant, you can get a pregnancy test done by your doctor or at a sexual health clinic for free, or you can buy a pregnancy test in most chemists or pharmacies, and sometimes in the supermarket. If you are pregnant there are lots of decisions that you will have to take. You should be given enough information to be able to make those decisions.
If you go and see your doctor for a pregnancy test, he or she should keep this confidential and not tell anyone, including your parents if you don’t want this to happen. As with other discussions you have with your doctor, he or she will only tell someone else without your permission if he or she is worried that you are in danger, or at risk of harm.
Pregnancy can be worrying for boys and men too. If you are worried that your partner might be pregnant, you could consider talking to her about whether to go and see a doctor or to take a pregnancy test - these are available to buy from chemists and some supermarkets without prescription.
We are very grateful to Irwin Mitchell Solicitors for generously giving their time and expertise to check the content of this section of the website. October 2018.