About the sexual health service
In this video, Debbie Glover and David Morris try to answer some of the questions you may have about coming to one of our sexual health clinics. The teams are there to support and help you and want you to feel at ease when going to the clinics.
- sexual problems e.g. pain during sex, genital health
- sexually transmitted infections (STIs) e.g. chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea
We can also help with:
- advice about abortion
- advice about sexual health
- advice for people who have been sexually assaulted
- cervical smear testing
- contraception, including emergency contraception
- free condoms
- hepatitis A, B and HPV vaccinations for men who have sex with men (MSM)
- PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) a medication that can help prevent you from developing HIV if you've been exposed to it
- PrEP a medication to help prevent HIV before you’ve been exposed to it
- STI and HIV tests
Link to information on accessing sexual health clinics during Covid-19
All of our clinics offer both walk-in appointments and normal appointments. Call your nearest clinic to check when these are. You can find contact details at the bottom of this page.
If you're 15 or under and need to visit one of our clinics, you can come at any time, even without an appointment. It’s best to call us first but if you can not call, just walk in during opening hours.
Our clinics are open to everyone, regardless of gender or age. You do not need to have any STI symptoms to come to see us.
If you’re under 16, the service is still confidential, unless we’re worried about your safety or the safety of someone else. Your GP will not be told about your visit unless you give us permission.
When you come for your appointment, you’ll see one of our specialist nurses or doctors. During the appointment we’ll discuss what brought you to the clinic and your medical and sexual history. We’ll answer any questions you might have, give you advice, signpost you to other useful organisations and, if appropriate, refer you to other services.
Depending on the reason for your appointment, we may also do a physical examination and some tests. If you’re not sure about anything, ask the nurse or doctor to explain. Tests might involve:
- a urine (pee) sample
- a blood sample
- swabs from the urethra (the tube the urine comes out of)
- an examination of your genitals
- if you’re female, swabs from the vagina, which you can usually do yourself
If you do not have any signs or symptoms of an STI you will not need to have an examination. You will be able to do your own swab or urine sample.
If you have tests and the results aren’t available during your visit, we’ll ask you how you want to receive them. They can be given to you by:
- unmarked letter
Using contraception is the best way to reduce the risk of pregnancy. There are currently 15 methods of contraception available on the NHS. We offer advice and free contraception at all our clinics, including free condoms.
Sexual health charity Brook has developed an interactive tool to help you choose the best contraception method for you.
You can get free emergency contraception from any of our sexual health clinics. Call your nearest clinic to arrange an emergency appointment.
You can also get it from:
- your own GP
- GP sexual health services
- your local pharmacy
- CHoC or A&E (as a last resort)
There are 2 types of emergency contraception:
- emergency contraceptive pill (Levonelle or ellaOne)
- intrauterine device (IUD)
Levonelle is a pill that has to be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of having sex.
ellaOne is a pill that has to be taken within 120 hours (5 days) of having sex.
An IUD is a device that can be inserted into your uterus up to 5 days after sex, or up to 5 days after the earliest time you could have ovulated.
Rapid HIV testing is now available in some pharmacies in Cumbria. You must be 18 or over to access this service. The test is free, simple and confidential. You’ll receive your result in around 15 minutes. The service is available from all of the pharmacies listed below.
If you’re aged 15 to 24, you can pick up a free chlamydia and gonorrhoea testing kit from any GP surgery and some local pharmacies.
You can do most pregnancy tests from the first day of a missed period. If you don’t know when your next period is due, do the test at least 21 days after you last had unprotected sex.
If you have a regular monthly menstrual cycle, the earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Sometimes pregnant women may have a very light period, losing only a little blood. Other signs include:
- feeling sick
- feeling tired
- sore breasts
- peeing more often
- strange tastes, smells and cravings
If you’re pregnant and not sure you want to continue with the pregnancy, we can give you advice about the options that are available.
If you decide that you do not want continue with the pregnancy, we can refer you for a termination (abortion). Your GP can also refer you.
There are at least 25 different STIs. What they all have in common is that they can be passed on through sexual contact, including vaginal, oral and anal sex. If you have an STI, it's important to find out so that you can get it treated as soon as possible, and so that you don't pass it on to someone else.
It’s common to have an STI and not have any signs or symptoms. We always recommend you have an STI test if you’ve had sex with someone new or you haven’t used a condom.
If left untreated, some STIs can cause serious and permanent damage. In some cases it can damage your fertility, meaning that it can be harder for you to get pregnant in the future, or make you unable to have children at all. If you’re pregnant, some STIs can be passed to your unborn baby.
Having sex should be fun and enjoyable, but having unprotected sex may increase your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection or becoming pregnant. Using condoms during sex will help you feel more confident and relaxed about sex, as condoms protect you and your partner from sexually transmitted infections.
Read the ‘How this service works’ section to find out more about how we can help you with STI advice, information and testing.
If you’re not able to come to one of our sexual health clinics, you may be able to use one of the GP sexual health services below. Here you can get contraceptive advice and be tested for STIs.
Bridgegate Medical CentreWinchester Street
Fusehill Medical PracticeFusehill Street
St Paul's Medical Centre (own patients only)St Paul's Square
Spencer Street Surgery (own patients only)10 Spencer Street
Derwent House SurgeryIsel Road
Captain French Lane SurgeryCaptain French Lane
James Cochrane PracticeHelme Chase Surgery
Sedbergh Health CentreStation Road
Castlehead Medical CentreAmbleside Road
Maryport Health ServicesAlenburgh House
Lakes Medical Pratice (own patients and Tuesday only)Penrith Health Centre
Glenridding Health CentreGreenside Road
Pharmacies can give you advice and guidance on contraception. They can also provide you with emergency contraception. Please note that some pharmacies will charge you for emergency contraception while others will provide it for free so make sure you ask them about this.
Birchwood ClinicFurness General Hospital
Derwent ClinicPark Lane
Flatt Walks Health Centre3 Castle Meadows
Kentwood ClinicGillinggate Centre
Solway ClinicHilltop Heights