Coronavirus information for patients

Our telephone line is open if you need to speak to somebody because you have symptoms of an STI, need emergency or routine contraception, or if you have any sexual health concerns. Please call 0121 237 5700 (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 09:00 – 18:30 / Tuesday: 10:15 - 18:30 / Friday: 09:00 – 16:30 / Saturday: 10:00 – 16:00).

Our clinics are open for telephone and pre-booked appointments. Walk-in appointments are available for those aged 19 and under only at our Umbrella at Boots (City Centre) clinic.

If you require PEPSE, don’t delay in contacting us during our opening hours. PEPSE can be taken up to 72 hours after exposure to HIV.

If you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a new, continuous cough, high temperature, loss of or change to your sense of smell/taste), please do not attend your appointment

Post-19 July, "hands, face, space" will continue to be maintained at all Umbrella clinics.

NHS coronavirus symptoms advice Attending your appointment


Ask a question

  • Are all your services free?

    Yes. We're an NHS provider so, as long as you're entitled to NHS services, you won't be charged.

  • Can I cancel or rearrange my appointment online?

    Yes, our online booking system allows you to cancel or rearrange appointments and to book follow-up appointments.

    If you need to cancel or rearrage an appointment, please do this as soon as possible so we can offer the original appointment slot to somebody else.

    To cancel or rearrange an appointment, you will need your booking reference number, and the time, date and location of the appointment.

    Book, cancel or rearrange an appointment

  • Can I have a cervical screening test (smear test) at an Umbrella clinic?

    If you’re a woman aged 25 – 64 and you’re registered with a GP, you should receive a letter inviting you for a screening test. If you think your screening test is overdue, or if you’re not sure when your next test should be, please speak to your GP practice.

    NHS Cervical Screening Programme

  • Can I speak to somebody about sexual health over the telephone?

    Sorry, but we don’t offer telephone consultations at the moment.

    A range of services are available from Umbrella clinics, pharmacies and GPs, so there are plenty of options for you to speak to somebody in person.

    Service locator

  • Can Umbrella give me a repeat prescription for my contraceptive pill?

    Your GP is able to provide the contraceptive pill. We would recommend visiting your GP practice to get a repeat prescription.

    Umbrella clinics can also prescribe contraceptive pills. However, you will need book an appointment so that one of our clinical team can assess you and discuss the best contraceptive for you.

    Find a clinic Book an appointment

  • Can you give me a pill to delay my period?

    No, we don’t offer this service.

    Some types of the contraceptive pill can help give you more control over your periods.

    Short-acting contraception

  • Do you do pregnancy tests?

    Pregnancy tests are available to buy from pharmacies and supermarkets. You can do the test in private and get a quick result.

    Your GP may be able to offer you a free pregnancy test. Please contact your GP to see if you'd like to see whether this is something they can provide.

    All Umbrella clinics offer pregnancy tests for people who are worried they might be pregnant and would like further information and advice.

    Find a clinic Book an appointment

  • Do you offer walk-in appointments?

    Yes, but please note that availability is limited and we can't guarantee that you'll be seen if you arrive at clinic without booking an appointment (but if your sexual health need is urgent we will arrange for you to be seen by a doctor or nurse).

    Walk-in appointments

    if you would rather book an appointment, you can do this using our online booking system.

    Book, cancel or reschedule an appointment

  • Do you treat very large internal genital warts

    We do treat genital warts. We recommend that you book an appointment so that a member of our clinical team can assess you and discuss your symptoms.

    Please note that we may need to refer you to a specialist for treatment of internal genital warts.

    Telephone: 0121 237 5000

    Book an appointment Find a clinic

  • How do I find out if I’m pregnant?

    Pregnancy tests are available to buy from pharmacies and supermarkets. You can do the test in private and get a quick result.

    Your GP may be able to offer you a free pregnancy test. Please contact your GP to see if you'd like to see whether this is something they can provide.

    Umbrella clinics offer pregnancy tests for people who are worried they might be pregnant and would like further information and advice.

    More on pregnancy tests

  • I’m going abroad and think I need a vaccination. Can you help?

    No, we don’t offer vaccinations for travel purposes. You would need to speak to your GP to arrange this.

  • I’m having problems trying to get pregnant. Can Umbrella help?

    There are many reasons why people can have trouble getting pregnant. Please speak to your GP, who can help you to find out if you do have a problem. Your GP will then be able to refer you for the help you need.

    Umbrella can’t offer fertility treatment.

  • I’m pregnant – can you help to look after me and my baby?

    If you’re already pregnant, please speak to your GP as soon as possible. They can arrange for you to receive the care you need during pregnancy (this is called antenatal care).

    Umbrella can only help with other issues relating to sexual health. For example, if you’re pregnant but think you may have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), we can help with the infection but not your pregnancy.

    Find a clinic

  • I’m under 16. Can Umbrella help me and do I need to make an appointment?

    Absolutely. We’re here to help people of any age with sexual health issues.

    As you're under 16 you will need to be seen by our clinical team.

    Boots in Birmingham city centre offers a walk-in clinic on Sundays where you can be seen without an appointment (walk-in appointments are given on a first come, first served basis). If you would like to be seen at another clinic, please make an appointment.

    Services for under-16s Are you under 25? Find a clinic Book an appointment

  • My local clinic has closed. Where can I get free condoms?

    Free condoms are available from Umbrella clinics and pharmacies, and from some GPs.

    Find clinics, pharmacies and GPs

  • Where can I be tested for HIV?

    All Umbrella clinics offer HIV testing.

    HIV testing Find a clinic

    If you're aged 16 or over and living in Birmingham and Solihull you can also request a ​freeSTI self-sampling kit, which allows you to get tested from home.

    STI self-sampling kits

  • Where can I get free condoms?

    Free condoms are available from Umbrella clinics and pharmacies, and from some GPs.

    Find clinics, pharmacies and GPs

  • Where can I go for removal of contraceptive implants?

    The following Umbrella clinics remove contraceptive implants:

    • Whittall Street Clinic
    • Umbrella at Boots, Birmingham city centre
    • Umbrella at Boots, Mell Square, Solihull
    • Erdington Clinic
    • ​Hawthorn House, Heartlands Hospital
    • Soho Health Centre
    • Chelmsley Wood Primary Care Centre

    For locations of the above clinics, please see the service locator.

    Service locator

  • Will I have to pay for contraception?

    No, contraception provided by Umbrella is free.

    Contraception services

    You may also be able to get some forms of contraception for free from your GP.

    Find Umbrella clinics, pharmacies and GPs

  • Will you share my information with anyone else?

    In general, no – we are legally required to keep your personal information safe, and to not share this with anyone else.

    However, in certain cases – for example, if we’re worried about the well-being of a patient – we may share details with other agencies to ensure people get the help they need.

    More on confidentiality

  • Can having a sexually transmitted infection (STI) stop you conceiving a child?

    Yes, certain STIs can cause infertility if left unchecked. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea especially can cause scarring and pelvic inflammatory disease. They often have no symptoms so many people do not realise that they have them.

    If you are sexually active, you should consider being tested for STIs.

    Types of STIs Testing for STIs

  • Can I contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from having oral sex?

    Yes, being wet and warm, the mouth provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Infections such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and herpes are all prime candidates.

    Flavoured condoms and dental dams are designed to help prevent the transmission of STIs through oral sex. However, the majority of people choose not to use them.

    If you suspect your partner may have had an infection or if you've developed a sore throat, or have unusual mucus/discharge in your mouth then it's worth visiting your local Umbrella clinic.

    Find a clinic

    To be perfectly safe you should always use condoms and dental dams for oral sex.

    How to avoid STIs

  • Do I need to have the hepatitis B vaccination?

    The following people should be tested for hepatitis B infection and consider having the hepatitis B vaccination:

    • Men who have sex with men
    • Anyone who has ever injected drugs
    • Anyone who has been paid for sex
    • Anyone who has paid for sex
    • Anyone who has had 9 or more sexual partners within the last 12 months
    • Anyone who has a sexual partner with Hepatitis B infection
    • Anyone who has been sexually assaulted recently

    Hepatitis B infection and vaccination

  • How can I avoid catching hepatitis B infection?

    Hepatitis B infection can be prevented by completing a course of the hepatitis B vaccination. Vaccination is done through a course of injections into the upper arm. In most people a full course of hepatitis B vaccination prevents infection.

    Using condoms can protect against catching hepatitis B infection through having sex.

    Hepatitis B infection and vaccination

  • How do you test for STIs?

    The types of tests you'll take will vary depending on your concerns. Our medical staff will explain what tests are going to be done and why. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

    For most procedures, it's best not to urinate for two hours before your check-up. During the examination you will have to undress partially or completely.

    The doctor or nurse may carry out some or all of the following procedures as part of the physical exam.


    • Visual check of your genitals
    • Examine the penis and testicles to check for discharge, pain or sores
    • Take a swab from the urethra (the opening of the penis)
    • Ask for a urine sample
    • Take a blood test


    • Visual check of your genitals
    • Speculum exam: this involves placing a device called a speculum inside the vagina to hold it open so that the vagina and cervix can be observed
    • Swabs may be taken from the vagina and/or cervix
    • Bi-manual exam: this involves the doctor or nurse placing the fingers of one hand into the vagina while the other hand presses on the abdomen. This is so they can feel your ovaries and uterus
    • Take a swab from a lesion or sore if you have one
    • Ask for a urine sample
    • Take a blood test

    Testing for STIs

    Self-sampling kits

    If you're aged 16 or over and live in Birmingham or Solihull, you can request a free self-sampling kit. This allows you to take your own samples at home and have results sent to you for free.

    Self-sampling kits

  • How often should I get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

    If you're sexually active, it's a good idea to get tested for STIs every year, even if you feel fine. It's a good practice to go for testing if you're about to start a new relationship. Ask your partner to do the same.

    Some STIs have no symptoms so you may not even know you have one unless you get tested.

    STI testing

  • I had sex and used a condom but I've missed my period and I'm concerned that I may have an STI

    There may be a number of reasons why your period is late – including stress – but, to be safe, visit your local Umbrella service provider and ask to be tested for both STIs and pregnancy. It's important not to panic, Umbrella sexual health service staff are used to dealing with situations like yours and will put you at your ease. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss and review your contraception choices.

    It is unlikely that you are either pregnant or have contracted an STI if you used a condom. Occasionally, however, condoms can break and to be safe it is always advisable to use condoms along with another form of long-acting contraception such as the pill, implant or coil.

    Find the right service for you Book an appointment STIs Condoms Contraception

  • I recently found out that I have Chlamydia but I don’t know how long I’ve had it. I’ve taken my medication but am worried that I won't be able to conceive. How can I find out if I can still have children?

    It is correct in that chlamydia can lead to fertility problems. However, this is usually from having chlamydia that has been untreated long-term. One of the key issues with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia is that they often have no symptoms whatsoever, or the symptoms go unnoticed. As a result, often people carry the infection for years without realising.

    If you have been treated without any complications and have been given the all clear, it would be highly unlikely that you have been done any lasting damage due to having the infection for such a short space of time. If however, you are experiencing any pain or symptoms then pop back to the service where you were treated to get yourself checked over.

  • I'm worried about the fake STI testing kits you can buy online. How do I know yours are genuine?

    Unlike the fake STI testing kits which can be bought online, our self-sampling kits are genuine, completely free and available to residents of Birmingham and Solihull aged 16 or over. We do not charge a fee for sending kits, we include a pre-paid envelope for users to return their samples, and we test samples and send results without any charge to the user. (Please remember that some other suppliers do sell genuine STI kits online.)

    The Umbrella service is run by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), which supplies our kits.

    Returned samples are tested in the laboratory at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, which is also part of UHB.

    Request a free STI kit

  • Recently I’ve had more discharge than usual and noticed spots around my vagina that hurt when I touch them. The discharge is clear and thin and smells. Have I got an STI?

    Vaginal discharge is perfectly normal and naturally varies in consistency throughout your menstrual cycle – and you will naturally make more when you become sexually aroused.

    It is a good practice idea to be aware of what is normal for you as you move through your cycle or at times of sexual arousal so that any changes that are unusual are spotted more easily.

    If you have had unprotected sex recently you may have an infection.

    The spots could simply be a reaction to shaving or waxing or a reaction to a change in soap, body wash, washing powder or even the material your underwear is made from. They could, however, be genital warts.

    The only way to be certain is to visit your local Umbrella service provider and get yourself checked out.

    Find Umbrella services

  • What are the symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

    It's not always easy to recognise the signs of an STI in you or your partner. In fact, some STIs have no symptoms at all, so you may not even know you have one unless you get tested.

    You might have an STI if you experience any of these signs:

    • Burning feeling in your genitals or when you pee
    • Sores, small bumps or blisters on or near your penis, vagina or anus
    • Itching around your penis, vagina or anus
    • Unusual discharge – like a different colour, smell or amount – from the vagina or penis
    • Lower abdominal pain
    • Pain in the testicles
    • Bleeding after intercourse or between periods
    • Pain during sex or masturbation
    • For women, unusual bleeding during your period

    Testing for STIs

  • What do I do if I think I have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

    If you think you might have an STI, get it checked out as soon as possible.

    You can see your family doctor or visit an Umbrella service provider in your area to find out exactly what you have and how you can treat it.

    If you're aged 16 or over and live in Birmingham or Solihull, you can order a free STI self-sampling kit. You can have a kit delivered to your home or another address, or collect one from a pharmacy or clinic. Follow the simple instructions in your kit to take some samples, then return your kit in the pre-paid package. We will then text or call you with your results.

    Self-sampling kits

    To be on the safe side, it's best to avoid having sex until you've been tested.

  • What is a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

    STIs can infect you in many ways. They can be caused by bacteria. They can be viruses. They can even come in the form of parasites like pubic lice. STIs are found on the body, in blood and in body fluids like semen and vaginal fluids. Sometimes, STIs like genital warts and herpes can be spread through skin-to-skin contact.

    STIs are spread from person to person during sex – including oral sex and anal sex. Injection drug use (IDU), tattooing or body piercing can also spread an infection if the needles and equipment aren't clean. An STI can sometimes be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, at the time of delivery and through the process of breastfeeding.

    Most STIs can be cured, but some will never go away and require lifelong treatment.

    More on STIs

  • What is hepatitis B infection?

    Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is very infectious (100 times more infectious than HIV) and very easily transmitted through unprotected sex or by sharing needles to inject drugs.

    Hepatitis B infection and vaccination

  • What is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

    The most common STIs are probably chlamydia, as it often has no symptoms so people don’t know they have it, and human papilloma virus (HPV – the virus that causes genital warts). Many people have HPV but only about 13% will get warts.

    Types of STIs

  • Am I going to die of AIDS?

    While complications from HIV infection remain a possibility, current treatments and medications are giving people with HIV a positive prognosis and near-normal life-span. This makes patients living with HIV vulnerable to the same health conditions that affect all people as they age. This is why it is important to maintain good health throughout your life.

  • Are there any side-effects from taking PrEP?

    Many medicines can have side-effects, so taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has to be a considered decision. The drugs in PrEP have been used as part of HIV treatment for many years. Evidence over the years has shown that they have a low risk of serious side-effects. Most people taking PrEP do not report side-effects. Some people have stomach problems, headaches and tiredness during the first month but these usually go away.

    People taking PrEP (on trial) have regular check-ups at a clinic, where they will be tested to ensure any side-effects are assessed.

  • Can HIV be transmitted through an insect bite?

    No, Insects can not transmit HIV. Research has shown that HIV does not replicate or survive well in insects. In addition, blood-eating insects digest their food and do not inject blood from the last person they bite into the next person.

  • Can I get HIV from hot tubs or steam rooms?

    No, HIV does not survive outside the body and fluids like sweat and saliva that are typically secreted during these activities have never been shown to transmit HIV.

  • Can I get HIV from kissing?

    No. You can't get HIV from casually kissing someone (or vice versa) who has HIV. Skin is a greater barrier against HIV. It is not recommended to engage in long, open mouth kissing (“French kissing”) with someone who has HIV if one of you has an open sore in or around the mouth.

  • Can I get HIV from sharing a cup or shaking hands with someone who has HIV or AIDS?

    HIV is found only in body fluids, so you cannot get HIV by shaking someone’s hand or giving them a hug (or by using the same toilet or towel). While HIV is found in saliva, sharing cups or utensils has never been shown to transmit HIV.

    How to avoid HIV

  • Do all people with HIV have AIDS?

    No. Being diagnosed with HIV does not mean a person will also be diagnosed with AIDS. Healthcare professionals diagnose AIDS only when people with HIV disease begin to get severe opportunistic infections (OI), or their T-cell counts fall below a certain level.

  • Does abstinence include anal sex?

    Abstinence from sex means not engaging in any form of sexual activity where there is a risk of exchanging fluids (semen, vaginal fluids, rectal mucous). This includes anal, oral, and vaginal sex.

  • How effective are latex condoms in preventing HIV?

    Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing HIV. Research on the effectiveness of latex condoms in preventing HIV transmission is both comprehensive and conclusive.


  • How effective is PrEP?

    Research suggests that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective in preventing HIV transmission, as long as the pills are taken as directed.

    In a large international study, gay men who took at least four doses a week had 96 per cent fewer infections. Results from separate studies of PrEP in the UK and France have both showed that PrEP substantially reduces infections among gay men. The UK and the French study reported that there was an 86 per cent reduction in the rate of HIV infection when PrEP was made available.

    ​PrEP has also proven effective for heterosexual couples in which one partner is HIV positive but only when it was taken on a daily basis.

  • How soon after potential exposure can you accurately test for HIV?

    If you think you have put yourself at risk of HIV, you should seek medical advice and get tested. The earlier HIV is diagnosed, the earlier you can start treatment and avoid becoming ill. However, it may be two weeks or more after exposure to HIV before a test provides accurate results.

    Testing for HIV

    If you’ve had sex with somebody who may be HIV positive, you can reduce your chances of HIV infection by taking post-exposure prophylaxis after sexual exposure (PEPSE) within 72 hours of exposure to the virus.


  • I had sex with someone I think might have HIV, and the condom broke. What should I do?

    If it’s been less than 72 hours since the condom broke, you may be able to take medication that could keep you from getting infected with HIV, even if your partner is HIV-positive. This medication is called post-exposure prophylaxis after sexual exposure to HIV (PEPSE).

    More on PEPSE

    If it’s been longer than 72 hours, PEPSE will not protect you from HIV, and you will need to explore HIV testing options. In most cases, you will have to wait at least 2 weeks after possible exposure to infection before an HIV test can provide accurate results.

  • If I am diagnosed with HIV, can I tell when I got it?

    In general no. A skilled healthcare provider can generally estimate how long you have been infected by looking at the levels of virus in your body, your T-cell count, and whether or not you have had any opportunistic infections. If you are currently suffering from symptoms of acute HIV infection, a healthcare provider can usually conclude that infection occurred within the past few weeks.

  • If I am diagnosed with HIV, can you tell who gave me the infection?

    No. HIV diagnostic tests cannot determine who passed the infection to the negative partner.

  • Is PrEP an option for everyone?

    No, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will not be suitable for everyone. People who are not at high risk of exposure to HIV would not need to take PrEP.

    The medication may also cause side-effects which may cause some people to decide not to continue with the treatment.

  • Is PrEP equally effective for all groups?

    To date, there have been variable results in some groups. However, not all groups have been fully studied and so effectiveness cannot be determined.

  • What are the long-term effects of taking PrEP?

    The long-term effects of taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are not understood fully as yet, as most clinical trials only take place over a few years. Reductions in bone mineral density and kidney health have been reported in some HIV positive people taking Truvada as part of their long-term treatment for HIV. However, this may result from the virus itself.

  • What is PrEP?

    Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a new way of using anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) – usually used for treating people with diagnosed HIV – to stop those at very highest risk from contracting the virus.

    Recent evidence – including from the UK PROUD study and the French IPERGAY study – shows this approach can be highly effective in preventing HIV infection as long as the drugs are taken regularly when people are at risk.

    UK PROUD study

    Evidence of effectiveness is strongest for men who have sex without a condom with multiple male partners.

    So far, published studies suggest that PrEP does not lead to increases in other sexually transmitted infections, although this and other areas of concern will need to be monitored as PrEP comes into use.

  • Where can I be tested for HIV?

    All Umbrella clinics can test you for HIV.

    Find a clinic Book an appointment

    If you're 16 or over and living in Birmingham in Solihull, you can get tested for free from home with one of our self-sampling kits.

    STI self-sampling kits

  • Who can access PrEP now and in the future?

    It is anticipated that the clinical trial phase will include at least 10,000 participants over the next three years. NHS England will fully fund the cost of the clinical trial phase and will work in partnership with local authorities, the Local Government Association and Public Health England to implement the findings as part of a wider national rollout.

    Detailed planning will now take place to ensure the launch and the clinical trial phase can begin as swiftly as possible. Up to £10 million will be made available over the next three years to fund all aspects of the trial. Next steps will include asking both the manufacturer of the branded PrEP drug Truvada, as well as generic manufacturers to make proposals to participate in the trial.

  • Will taking PrEP result in developing resistance to antiretroviral treatment?

    Concerns have been expressed that the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) may lead to the spread of resistance, following data from animal studies. However, a recent study has suggested that resistance is only likely if someone has contracted HIV at around the same time they start taking PrEP. This is because Truvada must be used in conjunction with other HIV medication to treat the infection.

  • Is PrEP available on the NHS in England?

    NHS England and Public Health England have announced a three-year long clinical trial involving at least 10,000 participants to establish how to get the drugs to the right people, how popular it would be and for how long they would take PrEP.

    It follows the recent Court of Appeal ruling that NHS England, alongside local authorities, has the power, although not the obligation, to fund the provision of PrEP.

    The first phase of implementation will be the launch of a large scale clinical trial in early financial year 2017/18. Umbrella has welcomed the initiative and will be aiming to be involved in the trial.

    Although the evidence around the clinical effectiveness of PrEP is strong, advice from Public Health England has highlighted significant outstanding implementation questions that should be answered prior to using PrEP in a sustained way on a substantial scale in England. These questions will be answered by the clinical trial, paving the way for full rollout.

  • Can I use contraception if I am breastfeeding?

    The short answer is yes, though breastfeeding will determine the type of contraception that you will be able to use. The mini pill and the contraception injection can be used as they both contain progestogen only. If you are breastfeeding you will not be able to use combined hormonal contraception such as the pill, the ring or the implant, due to the risk of the oestrogen affecting the breast milk.

    There has been evidence to suggest that breastfeeding alone can act as a form of contraception, although this will depend on a number of circumstances such as how long you have been breastfeeding and if your normal monthly cycle has resumed. However, most doctors will generally recommend that you use additional contraception to ensure you are protected.

  • Do hormonal contraceptives cause side effects?

    As with all medications, there may be some side effects when taking hormonal contraceptives, though those that do occur will usually be mild and temporary. The possibility of side effects will depend on which hormonal contraceptive you are using and will differ depending on the person using them. You may need to try more than one type of hormonal contraceptive to determine which is best suited to you.

  • Do I have to be 16 to use contraception?

    No. If you are under 16 you can get confidential advice and contraception. Health workers (nurses, doctors and pharmacists) work under very specific guidance with this age group. You must be mature enough to understand the advice and any decisions made about giving you contraception.

  • Does the pill turn women off sex?

    No, many women may become rather more keen on sex because they know the pill is giving them excellent protection against unwanted pregnancy.

    A very small number of women do say that the pill reduces their libido. In such cases it may be worth talking to your doctor or sexual health advisor about changing to another brand.

  • How do hormonal contraceptives work?

    Hormonal contraceptives work in three ways to alter your monthly cycle in order to prevent pregnancy. They primarily work by preventing your ovaries from releasing an egg, therefore preventing ovulation. They also thicken the mucus at the neck of the womb (the cervix). Finally, hormonal contraceptives stop the lining of the womb from growing, therefore preventing the egg and the sperm from meeting.

  • How does the emergency contraceptive pill work?

    The emergency contraceptive pill is a tablet containing a hormone called progestogen. The emergency contraceptive pill can stop an egg being released or sometimes it can stop the egg being fertilised or implanted.

    There are two types of emergency contraceptive pill:

    • Levonorgestrel, which must be taken within three days (72 hours) of unprotected sex
    • ellaOne, which must be taken within five days (120 hours) of unprotected sex

    Levonorgestrel is available for free from Umbrella clinics, with a prescription from a pharmacy, or to buy from a pharmacy.

    ellaOne is available free from Umbrella clinics or with a prescription from a pharmacy.

    Find clinics and pharmacies

  • I'm not sure which method of contraception is best for me

    You can visit one of our Umbrella contraception service providers for a consultation with a specialist who will discuss all your options with you and, where possible, provide you with your chosen method during your visit.

    This website also has lots of information about contraception and can help you find the right service.

    Find clinics and pharmacies Contraception Find the right service for you

  • Is contraception free and where can I go to get it?

    Yes, Umbrella provides free contraception, including condoms.

    Some forms of contraception are available for free from Umbrella pharmacies, without an appointment. Umbrella pharmacists also provide free emergency hormonal contraception (commonly known as "the morning after pill").

    You may also be able to get contraception, including emergency contraception, from your GP.

    You can get free contraception and emergency contraception from Umbrella clinics.

    Find clinics, pharmacies and GPs

    You can get the emergency contraceptive pill for free from most NHS walk-in centres (England only) and minor injuries units, and from some hospital accident and emergency departments (phone first to check).

    Find walk-in centres Find A&E departments

    If you are 16 or over you can buy the emergency contraceptive pill from most pharmacies.

  • What are the different types of hormonal contraception?

    There are seven different types of hormonal contraception. These include:

    • the oral combined contraceptive pill (otherwise known as the pill)
    • the mini-pill (also known as the progestogen-only pill)
    • the contraceptive patch
    • the vaginal ring
    • intrauterine system (IUS) (Mirena hormone coil)
    • the contraceptive implant
    • the contraceptive injection

  • What do I do if I forget to take my pill/change my patch or ring?

    If you are taking the combined pill and miss a pill, it is recommended that you take the missed pill as soon as possible and then take the next scheduled pill at the normal time, even if this means taking two pills at the same time. It is recommended that you use a barrier method of contraceptive, such as a condom, for the next seven days as an extra precaution.

    As the mini pill contains only progestogen, the importance of taking the pill on time is much greater, as contraceptive effectiveness will be lost quicker. If you've missed a pill, you will need to use a barrier method of contraception for two days.

    With both the combined pill and the mini pill, starting a new course of pills late will greatly reduce your contraceptive protection, and you will therefore have to use barrier contraceptives. Likewise if you forget to replace your patch or ring you should apply or insert a new one immediately and use a barrier contraceptive such as a condom for seven days afterwards.

  • What is unprotected sex?

    Unprotected sex usually means sex without a condom – as condoms help to protect against pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – but can mean sex without any form of contraception.

    Sex without using a condom can put you at greater risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection. (This could be oral or anal sex between two men, or oral, anal or vaginal sex between a man and a woman.)

    How to avoid STIs

    Sex without using any contraception can put you at risk of pregnancy at any time during the menstrual cycle. You can use emergency contraception up to five days after unprotected sex. Emergency contraception is more effective at preventing pregnancy the earlier it is used (but it does not protect against STIs).

  • Where can I get contraceptive pills?

    All our clinics can prescribe contraceptive pills to over-16s. Please make an appointment at an Umbrella clinic and one of our sexual health experts will assess you and advise which contraceptive is right for you.

    Find a clinic Book an appointment

    If you're under 16 and would like to discuss contraception or any other sexual health issue, please make an appointment to speak to a member of staff.

  • Will my parents/carers be told if I am given contraception?

    Health workers have to keep anything you tell them private but they will usually encourage you to talk to your parent or carer.

    If a health worker thinks there is a risk to your health, safety or welfare they might need to share your information with someone else. The risk would need to be serious and the health worker would usually discuss this with you first.

  • I didn’t resist physically – does that mean it isn’t rape?

    Freezing, or not reacting physically, is a really common response to sexual violence. People respond to an assault in different ways.

    Just because you didn’t resist physically doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape – in fact, many victims make the good judgment that physical resistance would cause the attacker to become more violent. Lack of consent can be express (saying “no”) or it can be implied from the circumstances (for example, if you were under the legal age of consent, or if you had a mental incapacity, or if you were afraid to object because the perpetrator threatened you with serious physical injury).

    Although it can feel as though your body has let you down, it has done what it can to keep you safe. Sexual violence against you is never your fault.

    Rape and sexual assault

  • I don’t remember the assault – does that mean it isn’t rape?

    If you don't remember what happened, it means you were not in a position to give consent to having sex. Sex without consent is rape.

    Memory loss can result from the ingestion of GHB and other “rape drugs”, or from excessive alcohol consumption.

    What happened isn't your fault, and you have the right to access support. You can contact the National Rape Crisis Helpline or the Rape and Sexual Violence Project for support and guidance.

    Rape Crisis England and Wales Rape and Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) Reporting rape or sexual assault (West Midlands Police) Horizon Sexual Assault Referral Centre

  • I thought “no,” but didn’t say it. Is it still rape?

    We hear "just say no" a lot but in reality we all communicate our "no" in different ways every day.

    You may not say "no" because it doesn't feel safe to say it, or because you don't feel comfortable.

    The other person is responsible for checking in with you and making sure you are OK.

    However you communicate your "no", if it is ignored, that means you have not given your consent. Sex without consent is rape, and it's not your fault.

    Rape and sexual assault

  • I used to date the person who assaulted me – does that mean it isn’t rape?

    It does not matter whether the other person is your husband, a current boyfriend, an ex-boyfriend, a friend or a complete stranger, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex in the past. If it is non-consensual this time, it is rape.

    Information on where to get help is available on our rape and sexual assault page.

    Rape and sexual assault

  • I was asleep or unconscious when it happened – does that mean it isn’t rape?

    Rape can happen when the victim was unconscious or asleep. If you were asleep or unconscious, then you didn’t give consent. And if you didn’t give consent, then it is rape.

    Rape and sexual assault

  • I was drunk or they were drunk - does that mean it isn't rape?

    Alcohol and drugs are not an excuse – or an alibi. The key question is still did you consent or not?

    Regardless of whether you were drunk or sober, if the sex is non-consensual, it is rape.

    If you were unable to give consent because of the effects of alcohol or drugs, but somebody had sex with you anyway, that is rape and it is not your fault.

    Rape and sexual assault

You might also be interested in…