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Relationships and International students

Deciding to become intimate with a partner should be when you both feel ready.  British attitudes towards sex may be different from your home country.  You should not feel pressured to have sex if you are not ready.

Sexual health services are free for men and women of all ages in the UK.  This includes:

  • information and advice
  • methods of contraception (preventing pregnancy) such as condoms, pills and implants
  • abortion (terminating a pregnancy)
  • testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea

Chinese young woman

Sexual health services are available from:

  • your GP
  • Contraception and Sexual Health (CASH) Clinic, sometimes called family planning clinic
  • Pharmacies (chemist, drug store)
  • Specialist sexual assault centres

Your information (such as name and address) or any details of your visit will not be shared with anyone outside that service without your permission.  In other words your visit is confidential.

The only exception would be to protect you or someone else from serious harm (they would always try to discuss this with you first).

Medical records (notes, letters etc of your healthcare) which may include details of your sexual health are held in the UK.  They do not return to your home country.

Thinking about having sex?

  • Bodyworks is a simple guide to male and female reproduction, the menstrual cycle and what's involved in conception (getting pregnant) and contraception (preventing pregnancy)
  • book an appointment to register on the C-Card scheme
  • this is a  free condom distribution scheme for under 25s
  • at the registration appointment (which takes 10-20 mins), a trained worker will tell you how the scheme works and demonstrate using a condom safely.  You can also ask questions
  • then you can pick up free condoms and lubricant at different venues displaying the C-Card logo

 For more details plus a list of pick-up points, please visit the C-Card website

Had unprotected sex?

  • not used a condom or other form of contraception?
  • condom split or come off during sex? 
  • forgot to take your pill or had diarrhoea or vomiting when taking the pill?

Emergency contraception (sometimes called after-sex contraception or the morning after pill) can be used up to 5 days after unprotected sex.  The sooner the better!  See the page on emergency contraception.

Abortions are not seen as an acceptable form of contraception in the UK.  Book an appointment to see a GP as soon as possible if you are considering an abortion (terminating a pregnancy).

The booklet So you think you might be pregnant? from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service gives more information.


Please visit the other pages on sexual health for more information.

Useful websites and other resources

NHS Choices is the UK's largest health website, run by the National Health Service. It includes information on a wide range of health related subjects in the form of articles, video stories and lists of local services.

It also gives access to health information in other languages.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs produce a detailed factsheet on accessing the NHS and keeping healthy.

There is a booklet, Healthcare and Relationships: a guide for International students written by Denise Eaves, University of Nottingham's Health Promotion Advisor.  Denise has also produced a presentation for International students with some Chinese translations, A brief guide to the NHS and sexual health services (this needs to be printed for ease of reading).