NPN | Your Pharmacy Can Help: Sexual Health

With sexually transmitted infections still causing the greatest impact within young men aged 15 to 24 years, black ethnic minorities and men who have sex with men, pharmacies are aiming to prevent the transmission of STIs through the encouragement of condom use and regular testing and screening. With 95% of the population within a 20 minute walk of a local community pharmacy, your community pharmacist is a good source of advice, information on contraception, and guidance towards important and helpful services on offer in the area.

Women who live in areas with restricted access to contraceptive services are at an increased risk of unplanned pregnancies. Your community pharmacy has a target of providing universal access to services offering a full range of contraceptive options and reproductive health advice. With the intention of Making Every Contact Count (MECC), pharmacists are trained to offer an integrated package of SH and RH services - in some pharmacies, a package like this may include a contraceptive choices consultation, safe sex advice, chlamydia screen/treatment, condoms and preconception health advice.

“You don’t have to make an appointment and we’re open all day so it’s convenient to call in,” says Anshu Kaura, a pharmacist in Buckinghamshire who works on Mondays, and reports young women asking for emergency hormonal contraception following the weekend. “As part of that consultation, I would be asking what they are doing about regular contraception and signposting them to local services. A lot of the young women I see are from ethnic minorities and are embarrassed to talk about these things with family GPs, or at sexual health clinics. So the local pharmacy is important for them as somewhere to get this essential service.”

For some people seeking sexual health advice, face-to-face contact is preferred, and over 90% of community pharmacies now have a private consultation area, offering a good environment for people to raise concerns about issues that are private, in a confidential, non-judgemental setting.

Some of the sexual health issues your pharmacist can help with include:

  • Contraception and emergency contraception

  • Testing for some STIs and dispensing of treatment

  • Vaccine bookings (hepatitis B, HPV)

  • Thrush treatment

  • Bacterial vaginosis

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) treatments

  • Advice and products to help with sexual difficulties such as erectile dysfunction and menopausal vaginal atrophy

You can search on the National Pharmacy Network to see if your local pharmacy can offer you specialist sexual health services, or to find the number to give your local pharmacy a call: “Pharmacists are used to talking about anything and everything, so they won’t be phased by the subject matter. Just ask if you can speak in the consultation room.”


Community pharmacies provide a safe space for individuals seeking anonymous and informal advice from health professionals without having to make an appointment. If you have questions or concerns about contraception, STIs, unprotected sex or anything else, your pharmacy can be your first port of call.