Sexual Health and Contraception

Contraception refers to the methods that are used to prevent pregnancy. Some methods of contraception (condoms) can also be used to prevent some sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Contraception is free from the Parallel at any age and there are lots of options available. If you are thinking about becoming sexual active or you are having sex already it is important that you have all the right information to make safe choices and an opportunity to discuss all of your options.

This can be done by attending one of our drop-in sessions, even if you are under 16. Information on privacy and confidentiality can be found on our main Information page.

For more information just visit our opening times and clinics section and also our resources page where lots of different patient information leaflets and websites can be found. We also regularly post interesting facts and key information on a range of topics on our Instagram Page @Parallel_Bolton.   Contraception The Parallel

Emergency Contraception

There is emergency contraception (EC) that can be used after unprotected sex, to protect you from pregnancy. There are two methods of emergency contraception:

  • a type of pill – often called ‘the morning after pill’: this name is a bit misleading as you can actually take some types up to five days after unprotected sex.
  • the intrauterine device (IUD): the IUD is designed to stop an egg from implanting in your uterus (womb) and can be fitted by a specially trained doctor or nurse within five days of unprotected sex.

The emergency contraceptive pill is available at The Parallel and can be obtained at one of our confidential drop-in clinics and can also be obtained from your GP, some local chemists and the Bolton Centre for Sexual Health. Our confidentiality agreement can be found on the main Information page. Remember that if you have unprotected sex, this always puts you at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).   Pregnancy The Parallel

Pregnancy advice and options

Everyone has different reactions to finding out they’re pregnant. Some people will be delighted; others will feel shocked or worried. 

Everybody will need time to think and some information about what to do next. If you think you might be pregnant but you’re not sure, it’s important to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible. The majority of pregnancy testing kits available recommend waiting at least three weeks after unprotected sex. This can be done at The Parallel or you could complete one yourself at home.

If you are pregnant and if you are less than 24 weeks pregnant there are three options available to you and you have the right to choose any one of them:

  • Continuing the pregnancy and raising the child
  • Continuing the pregnancy and placing the child for adoption
  • Ending the pregnancy by having a termination or abortion.

For some people, making a decision about pregnancy is easy. For others, it might be difficult. However easy or hard you find the decision, it is your decision to make. The more you feel you have made your own choice, the better you will feel in the future. If you feel it would help, you can speak to someone at The Parallel. One of the adolescent health nurses can listen to how you’re feeling, answer any questions you might have and give you lots of information and support to help you make a decision that feels right for you. There are also many other organisations that can help you such as:

The most important thing is to talk to someone as soon as possible. If you talk to us at The Parallel, we’ll help you to come to a decision that’s right for you without judging you.

Costumes STIs The Parallel

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

An STI, or sexually transmitted infection, is basically any kind of bacterial or viral infection that can be passed on through unprotected sexual contact. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had sex or how many partners you’ve had; anyone can get an STI.

Signs and symptoms: STIs don’t always have noticeable symptoms so after having unprotected sex, it can be easy to be in denial and just hope you’ll be ok. You should always get yourself tested. The current guidance is you should wait two weeks after you have had unprotected sex for testing, unless you are symptomatic. Testing is important so that you don’t pass anything on or cause yourself long-term harm. You may also need to consider emergency contraception to protect yourself from pregnancy. If you think you may have symptoms we would advise that you attend one of our drop in clinics or the Bolton Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Health.  

To protect yourself from STIs you need to use a barrier method, for example a condom, female condom or dental dam every time you have sex. Condoms are the only method of contraception that protect against both pregnancy and STIs. Even if you’re using another method of contraception, like the pill to protect against pregnancy, you should still use a condom as well.

Nervous or embarrassed about getting tested?

It’s really common to feel nervous at the thought of getting tested but don’t worry, most infections are easily treated. Here at The Parallel we recommend that you get tested for two of the most common STIs, chlamydia and gonorrhoea, two weeks after any new sexual partner or every year, whichever is more frequent. We provide a fully confidential service and testing is easy. All you have to do is provide a small sample of wee or swab your vagina yourself.

More advice can be found at and also there are a number of leaflets about all STIs available in the resources section of the website.

Are you over 19?

If you are 19 or over then you can visit –


Healthy relationships

We are all part of relationships with; with family, friends, acquaintances, teachers, pets, partners and all sorts of other people. When they are healthy, these relationships help us to thrive and do well. As well as helping us enjoy the good times, they see us through the bad times too. What all good relationships have in common is that they are based on respect, trust, and communication. That’s true whether it’s your relationship with your best friend, your teacher or your partner. Most people have more than one romantic relationship during their life. Going out with different people helps you find out who you are compatible with and what you want from a relationship. It’s also fine not to be in a relationship at all.

Lots of people are single and many are single by choice. They aren’t interested in love or romance, and that’s totally fine. The most important thing, if you do choose to be in a relationship with someone, is that it should be a positive experience. It won’t be perfect every day – all relationships go through ups and downs – but it should be fun and help you feel good about yourself. This leaflet is really good at showing you the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.  Abuse and violence The Parallel

Abuse and violence

Abuse can be many different things. It can be verbal, emotional, physical or sexual but it can also be less obvious and take the form of controlling behaviour. This can make it harder to know if you or someone you know is being abused. But the most important thing to know is that abuse of any kind, whoever the abuser might be, is unacceptable. No one has the right to hurt you or make you do anything that feels wrong and it is never your fault. If you have ever been made to feel uncomfortable or scared it can be very difficult to talk about it. You might feel very worried about what will happen to you if you speak out. Sometimes people who have been abused don’t know who to talk to and fear that they won’t be believed if they do tell someone. Here at The Parallel we will always be here to listen and offer you guidance and support. There are also other services in Bolton who you can contact. One of these services is called Fort Alice and they can be contacted on:

Fort Alice


Tel: 01204 365677 Monday 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Tuesday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Wednesday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  

How do I know if I’m being abused?

It’s not always easy to know if you’re being abused. Abusers are often very clever when it comes to manipulating their victims. They can try to persuade you that what they’re doing is normal, is a sign of love or that they’re really sorry for what they have done. Below are 12 things which tell you that you are being abused. This list won’t cover absolutely everything so if you are experiencing something which is not on this list but which feels wrong or upsetting, that could also be abuse.

  • You are scared of them
  • They have hurt, or threatened to hurt, you or people you care about
  • They force you to do things you don’t want to do, including sexually
  • They stop you from seeing your friends, family or people who you may go to for advice such as social workers
  • They prevent you from continuing or starting school, college or from going to work
  • They constantly check up on you or follow you. They may also track you via your mobile phone and on social media
  • They wrongly accuse you of flirting or of having affairs on a regular basis
  • They get extremely jealous and possessive
  • They constantly humiliate you, or criticise or insult you, often in front of other people
  • You change your behaviour because you’re afraid of what they might do or say to you
  • They deliberately destroy things that belong to you
  • They control how much money you have.

If you’re not sure whether something that has happened to you is abuse or not, sometimes it can help to imagine that it happened to a friend of yours who told you about it. If you would be scared or worried about your friend if they had been treated the same way, it’s a strong sign that you are experiencing abuse and that you need to think about getting help.  


Sexuality describes how you express yourself in a sexual way. Part of your sexuality is your sexual orientation, which refers to who you’re attracted to, want to have sex with and fall in love with. It’s as simple – and as complex – as that. Like with so many things in life, it can take time to explore your sexuality and make decisions about what you do and don’t like. Your sexuality can be expressed through your emotional and physical desires, behaviours, attitudes and relationships.

These feelings and experiences are often influenced by factors such as your friends, culture and religion, so take your time to figure it all out, and don’t worry if it takes you a while to understand it, or if what you feel changes from time to time. Your sexuality is unique to you. And remember that you may know who you are and who you fancy, way before you want or are ready to have sex.

Further help and support is available at The Parallel and also the organisations below:

Bolton LGBT+

Web: Tel: 07506 184 359

The Proud Trust

Web: Tel: 07813 981 338

LGBT Foundation

Web: Tel: 0345 330 3030