SHAG week - Access to contraception

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Access to contraception

Choosing the right contraceptive method for you and your partner is an important decision and there are around 15 different types to choose from – where to access contraception is also an important factor!

In the UK, contraception for both men and women is free of charge through the NHS.

For most types of contraceptive you will need to meet with your GP, Nurse Practioner or with a specified health care professional at a Sexual Health Clinic or GUM clinic (many of these services will also offer information, testing and treatment for STIs).

The GP or Nurse should discuss the options with you in more detail to help you reach a decision about what methods might be best for you – some types may not be suitable depending on your medical history. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure of anything and don’t be put off if the first method you try doesn’t suit you; you can try others. 

Remember, most methods of contraception protect only against pregnancy – condoms are the only method that will protect against both pregnancy and STIs.

In addition to preventative contraception methods, there is also emergency contraception which can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if you are worried the contraception method you used has failed (e.g. a condom has split or you missed a pill).

Emergency Contraception is available for free via NHS prescription from your GP/Nurse Practioner or via Sexual Health/GUM clinics, most NHS Walk-in Centres or Minor Injuries Units and some pharmacies. You can also buy the emergency contraceptive pill in person or online from most pharmacies – the cost varies but it will usually be between £25 - £35.

Local Services:

University of Essex Health Centre

  • Registered patients can book an appointment by ringing 01206 794484
  • Offers specialist nurse clinics for sexual health and contraception.

Essex Sexual Health Clinic

  • Provides information and support for Sexual Health Testing and Contraception. You can sign up online for their e-Card scheme and have condoms sent to your home for free. 
  • They offer appointments at both Colchester High Street or the University of Essex campus (Wednesday evening). Appointments can be booked via their website.


  • SH:24 is a service offered by Provide. Via their website you can order sexual health test kits for the 4 most common types of sexually transmitted infections and contraception. These are delivered directly to your door, in discreet packaging. 
  • They also offer support and advice by text, phone and email.

SU Reception

  • SU Reception (located on Square 3 of the Colchester campus) provides free condoms and dental dams for all University of Essex students. 
  • You can also purchase pregnancy tests for £2
  • They also run a prescription delivery service. Once you have received your prescription for contraception from your GP/Nurse Practioner, you can take the script to SU Reception and your items will be delivered to campus (usually the same day if you bring your prescription in before 12pm or the next working day).

For information on other local services, please visit the SU Advice webpage or visit them on Square 3 to talk to an advisor. 

SHAG week

Missed our other articles? Find them below. 

Contraception choices

Effectiveness of contraception 


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