You may be curious about what happens at a clinic, so we’ve tried to answer some frequently asked questions below. You can also watch a video showing what it’s like to visit Brook and explore our Ask Brook 24/7 tool if you have other questions.
Do I need an appointment?
Most Brook services operate on a ‘drop in’ basis, although some offer appointments as well. Use
Find a Service to find your nearest service, to book an appointment online (if possible), to see opening times and to get the phone number so you can call ahead and ask about appointments.
Will you tell my parents I've been?
No, your visit to Brook is
confidential. We won't even tell your doctor without your permission. Even if you’re under 16, your visit will be confidential but you will be encouraged to talk to a parent or carer about your visit if you can.
Will anyone else have to be told?
In exceptional circumstances, for example if we think that you or another young person is at serious risk of immediate harm, we would try to put you in touch with services that can help. In the most exceptional circumstances we may need to make a decision to breach
confidentiality, in order to protect you or another young person.
Will I have to tell my partner?
You don’t have to tell anyone you don’t want to, but if you find out you have an STI, it is important to let your partners know so that they may be tested too. This can be difficult and embarrassing but it is very important so that they get treated and so that you don’t get the STI again from them. If you don’t want to tell your partners, some clinics will contact them for you without giving your name.
Do I have to pay?
No. All Brook’s services are provided on behalf of the NHS and are therefore free.
Will I need an internal examination?
You’re unlikely to need an internal examination on your first visit. You may need one in the future, if you’re having an IUD (a type of contraception) fitted, for example, or for some (but not all) sexually transmitted infection (STI) checks.
But even if you do need an internal examination, it’s nothing to worry about. It can be a little uncomfortable but Brook staff can talk you through it and reassure you about any concerns you might have.
Can I see someone on my own, or do I have to have my parent or carer with me?
It's fine to see someone on your own and you don't need a parent or carer with you, even if you're under 16.
Can I bring a partner or friend with me?
Of course. It's always good to have support. We’ll always talk to you on your own first though, to make sure you’re not doing anything you don’t want to do, for example being pressured to get contraception when you don’t want to. After your initial confidential chat, your partner or friend is welcome to sit with you while you talk to one of our health professionals, if you would like them to.
Will everyone in the waiting room hear what my problem is?
No. Most services have a system where you can point to what you need on a sheet of paper which shows the services Brook provides rather than having to ask out loud. Alternatively, you can ask to speak to someone in a private room.
I'm worried the staff will judge me...
You won’t be judged. Staff only care about your health and remember, they’ve seen it all. Clinic staff see all kinds of things. After all, it’s their job and they are there to make your visit as comfortable as possible.
What happens when I get there?
We’ll welcome you and ask you a few questions in confidence. If you’re anxious about telling us the reason you’ve come to see us, see 'will everyone in the waiting room hear what my problem is?'
You’ll then be asked to take a seat in the waiting room until a member of staff is ready to see you. When it’s your turn, you will be taken into a private room.
If you want contraception to prevent a pregnancy, you’ll see a doctor, a nurse or a client support worker. They will ask you some health questions, and discuss contraceptive methods with you to help find the one that is most suitable.
If you’re having, or thinking about having sex, the doctor, nurse or client support worker will talk to you about the importance of using condoms, internal condoms or dams, to help you and your partner avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They'll make sure you know how to use your chosen method.
Depending on the method, they might be able to give you supplies of your chosen contraception to take away that day.
At some services you can see a counsellor for a chat, to talk through any difficulties or concerns, and to find out what sort of advice you need.
What if I forget to ask something?
Brook is always here for you if you want to ask a question, have a chat, or get more supplies. You can just drop in to your local Brook service, alternatively you can use the
Ask Brook 24/7 tool. You can also explore the Your life section of this website for information on everything from the 15 types of contraception and the types of STI, to information, advice and real stories on gender, sexuality, relationships and sex.
When are Brook services open?
Opening hours vary from service to service. It’s always best to check using
Find a Service, or to ring ahead first.
Can I get help online or over the phone?
Brook does not have a phone helpline but you use the
Ask Brook 24/7 tool for answers to all your questions. You can also explore the Help & Advice section which gives lots of advice about everything from the 15 types of contraception and the types of STI, to information, advice and real stories on gender, sexuality, relationships and sex.
What if there isn’t a Brook near me?
There are a number of different places you can go for sexual health help, support, advice, testing and treatment but because the way these services are provided varies so much across the UK, it can be hard to give advice that’s relevant to everyone.
It also depends on what it is you need. If you are in an emergency situation (for example, you need emergency contraception), you may choose to go to a different service than if you are thinking about your future contraceptive needs and would like to talk it through with someone.
Here’s our quick guide to what you can find at different services.
Brook services are only for young people aged under 25. They provide a whole range of sexual health services including contraception and contraceptive advice, STI testing (though not all services have the full range, you should call ahead to check), pregnancy testing, emergency contraception and counselling. You may not have a Brook service in your area, in which case, we'll help you find another suitable service via our
Find a Service tool.
Other young people's services
If there isn’t a Brook service near you, there are other really good quality services especially for young people. You will need to call ahead to check exactly what sexual health services are available, but these are the places to go if you want to be seen by a service that is 'young-people friendly'.
Search for your nearest one.
Family planning clinics
Family planning clinics are where anyone of any age can get free contraception and emergency contraception, pregnancy testing and pregnancy advice. Some family planning clinics have other specialist services too (like counselling) but you should call first to check. You may need to make an appointment at a family planning clinic, though some do have 'drop in' services.
Search for your nearest one.
GUM or sexual health clinics
GUM or sexual health clinics provide advice, support, treatment and testing for STIs. GUM stands for 'genito-urinary medicine'. These clinics are for all people of all ages and are usually part of your local hospital or another large clinic. You may need to make an appointment at a GUM clinic, though some do have 'drop in' services.
Search for your nearest one.
Your GP can give you advice and information on contraception, emergency contraception and STIs but if you want more detailed or specialist advice, they may suggest that you go to a different service (like a Brook or a GUM clinic). Your GP is required by law to keep your consultation private, which means they cannot tell your family about your visit. But if you’d prefer not to discuss your sexual health with your regular GP, it is your right to request to see another GP in the practice – or go to another GP practice altogether.
Search for your nearest GP.