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Personal stories

Since the XES campaign began we've heard from more than 100 people from all over the UK.

You've told us about your experience of contraception and sexual health services - including shining examples of best practice and areas hit by reduced services and a real lack of choice. We've highlighted some of the best and worst experiences below.

Read more experiences and see what services are like in your area on our sexual health map. And if you visit a service please do come back and tell us how it was for you.

"I take the pill and I’d got to the end of my packet, had my week off and thought I had another packet at home, but I didn’t. My GP didn’t have any appointments for a week and they said they wouldn’t give me a repeat prescription as the doctor had to see me and told me to go to a walk-in clinic in South London. I got there about an hour after it opened but when I got there they said they didn’t have any appointments left and I had to go back the next day. I’d had sex a couple of days before so I spent the whole night in tears on the phone to my boyfriend worrying about getting pregnant. I work so I had to pretend I was sick so I could go to the clinic the next day and when I got there I waited about an hour to see someone but when I did it only took a few minutes to give me the pill. The clinic were really nice but the whole thing was a nightmare."

"Originally there was a walk in centre at a clinic near to the university campus which was ideally placed. This has since been closed and now there is an appointment only clinic which is far outside the city centre and requires a 30 minute bus ride to reach. This clinic also is very crowded, badly organised and under staffed as it is now the only facility for the whole city and surrounding area."

"The nurse I saw was more than happy to talk through the options with me but I'd already decided on the implant. She fitted it there and then and was friendly and reassuring during the procedure. She gave me after care information and leaflets. When, after three months, I wasn't totally happy with the way it was working for me I went back to discuss my options. She offered me the pill, and when I said I didn't want the pill she was more than happy to offer me the patch. The combination of the two now mean I'm happy with the protection I've got."

"In this [family planning] clinic, I felt I was asked intrusive, inappropriate and irrelevant questions (personal and emotional questions about my relationship with my boyfriend). I felt assumptions were made about me and made it difficult for me to have an honest discussion (e.g. when asking about smoking, rather than ask it was stated 'of course you don't smoke'). When I asked to change which pill I was taking, because I was experiencing unwanted side-affects, my comments were ignored. I often felt belittled or hurried. The opening times were erratic and few and far between."

"At the age of 20 it can be easy for people to stereotype you when you’re gay and going into a clinic as being someone who sleeps around. But this wasn't the case. I was treated by the most friendly staff, who treated me with respect and dignity and having blood taken and the other requirements couldn't ever be such an enjoyable occasion"

"Because he is a Catholic, my GP refuses to offer any form of contraception. And our local sexual health clinic shut down a few years ago. So the nearest place to get family planning advice is a clinic about 2 miles away (a bit of a trek by bus) which is only open 10-4 on weekdays."

"My GP surgery has a specialist family planning service, with two GPs who specialise in this service and particular hours dedicated to the service. I had a consultation with one of the GPs about my needs. Chose to have a Mirena coil, and an appointment was made to return to the GP surgery at a later date to have it fitted. It all went very smoothly and fitted my needs very well."

"Due to lack of staff and long waiting times, it is particularly inconvenient for patients to access for regular contraceptive injections and repeat pill prescriptions. Also very limited availability for coil fits and implant fits/removals. No availability of cervical smears since mid-2012. Less walk-in availability in evenings for GU and Family Planning due to low staffing levels."

"Everything was great - open access, anonymous, available for all ages. That was for initial STI screening. Once I'd had a chat about contraception and made follow up appointments with the family planning clinic, I was seen on time and received a very good service."

"My results were lost the first time I went. I was already extremely anxious about attending anyway, and though the drop in times weren't convenient I managed to coordinate a friend to come with me. After the results were lost I really couldn't face going back to the drop-in alone, and they wouldn't offer me an appointment at a more convenient time."

"I had a consultation with a nurse to find the best contraceptive for me. She was really nice and made me feel calm. I had many problems with the pill so the nurse sat me down and talked me through my options. In the end I chose to have an implant. After a short wait, I came back into the nurse's room and had it fitted. It wasn’t bad at all! I have had it for 3 years and it has worked perfectly. I have just booked my appointment to get a new one fitted. When I called I got an appointment only a week away and they have given me time to speak with a specialist in case I want to change my contraceptive. They said if I wanted to change my contraceptive, I could get another type fitted within the same session. They are always nice and friendly when I contact them or go in; perfect service!"

"Although I was 17 and in a long term relationship, I felt my GP was judgmental and condescending when I inquired about beginning the contraceptive pill. This left me feeling uncomfortable and in some way at fault despite the fact I was doing the responsible thing by taking contraception. The experience also left me feeling uncomfortable about asking her further questions on sexual health."

"The family planning clinic staff are consistently polite, friendly, non-judgmental and completely willing to help. On occasions that I have had questions concerning the contraception I was using (the pill), they always answered them fully, never made me feel like I was wasting their time and offered very helpful advice. They provided me with a lot of information on all types of contraception, all of which were available at the clinic. I never felt pressured or uncomfortable. I can't emphasise enough how comfortable I felt asking questions, sharing worries and discussing my sexual health."

"Full STI testing is available at the drop-in clinic at the main hospital, so a bus ride away. The staff were really nice and professional, they explained everything clearly. I got my results and treatment quickly and had a follow up appointment to make sure everything had gone ok. I have no complaints at all!"