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Healthcare in the UK
Family Planning and Women’s Health
Pregnant women are very well taken care of in the UK. The many free NHS services that expectant mothers can make use of ensure that regardless of the mother’s income, both her and her child are in safe and capable hands. Our guide on having a baby in the UK offers an overview.
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Never Neglect Your Health: Women’s Checkups
If you have read our article on the significance of general practitioners for the healthcare system in the UK, you are certainly aware of the fact that your GP is your first person to contact in all matters related to health. This also extends to women’s health. If you are already registered with a GP, you will receive a letter reminding you to drop by for your usual checkups, if you have not already booked an appointment yourself.
Most women usually have their checkups, such as the cervical screening test, handled by their regular GP. If you feel uncomfortable with your GP carrying out the procedure for any reason, you can always ask to have another member of the staff do it. You also have the option of visiting a family planning clinic instead (see below). As is the case with any other visit to your GP practice, you will be referred to another specialist for further screening and diagnosis if there are any pressing issues.
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Family Planning: Whatever You’re Comfortable With
Again, we would like to stress that your GP is both qualified and experienced in the field of family planning as well. However, they might not be your preferred person to discuss these matters with. As the most popular and widely available alternative, the Family Planning Association runs a variety of clinics specializing in matters of sexual and reproductive health. Generally speaking, there are two distinct types of clinics: family planning (contraception) clinics, and sexual health (genitourinary medicine) clinics. To a certain extent, these two types of clinics are very similar in nature, as they both offer treatment and advice on a wide range of topics related to your sexual health, such as:
- wide array of contraceptives, including emergency contraception and contraceptive implants
- testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections
- pregnancy tests
- counseling for victims of sexual assault
- counseling in cases of unplanned pregnancy
- advice on pregnancy termination (abortion)
Family planning clinics also carry out cervical screenings, and offer pre-pregnancy advice and fertility awareness information. Any counseling, advice, and treatment you receive in either type of clinic is absolutely confidential and free of charge. Often, services are available in a variety of languages.
If you decide to visit a family planning or sexual health clinic, please be aware of the fact that you might have to book an appointment in advance to be tended to by a healthcare professional. However, there are also a large number of walk-in clinics all over the UK, which you can visit without prior notice. The Family Planning Association offers in-depth info on its services and the locations of its clinics online.