Sexual health clinics usually have counselling and referral services. There are also professional nurses on duty who run tests and provide treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Most sexual health clinics also have:

  • Birth control prescriptions (and sometimes sell them cheaper than a pharmacy)
  • Info on STI’s, including STI testing and treatment
  • Pregnancy testing
  • Emergency birth control (morning-after pill)
  • Anonymous HIV/AIDS testing
  • Needle Exchange Services (where you can trade used drug needles and syringes for cheap or free ones)

Sexual health clinics are completely confidential. They are also non-judgemental and inclusive. Everyone, no matter what gender, race, or sexual-orientation, can use clinic services, and many are wheelchair accessible. If you want to visit a sexual health clinic, you can make an appointment or check for walk-in hours where you can see a doctor without an appointment. Most services are free.

I am under 18. Do I need permission from my parents to go to a clinic?

No, you don’t need permission to use services at a sexual health clinic. There are many youth-friendly clinics in Ontario. The only time you need permission from a parent or guardian who is over 18 is if you decide to have a major operation, like an abortion. Otherwise, everything, including STI tests, remains confidential.  

Will my family know if I visit a clinic?

Sexual health clinics are confidential. Staff are required (by law) not to tell anyone anything you don’t want them to. That also means not telling your family (and friends) any information about you, even if they know them personally. However, if you are under the age of 16, they might have to tell someone if they think you are being abused.

Most clinics also use a different name if they call your house, so they might say ‘it’s Pat calling’ so they can protect your privacy. If you are worried about someone seeing you at the clinic, visit a clinic outside of your neighbourhood.

Each clinic is different, so if you are unsure, call first!

I’m embarrassed to have doctors examining me!

Lots of clinics will let you choose the gender of the doctor who you meet with. You can tell them if this is your first time at a clinic, or if you are nervous about the appointment. Clinic doctors and nurses are non-judgemental and inclusive. This means that no matter what their personal beliefs are, they should be open to your concerns; but some clinic staff are more sensitive than others.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a doctor about an issue, ask to see someone else or visit a different clinic. Remember that most staff has heard it all before, so you’re not the first one to ask about pregnancy or an STI.