Finland has quite a liberal approach to sexual health and contraception. Condoms and other forms of contraception are widely available and Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) checks and treatment are free for everybody.
STD checks are done through GPs, sexual health clinics or student health care. For a check-up with a GP or student health service, you will have to make an appointment. In Helsinki, the sexual health clinic accepts walk-ins, but elsewhere you might need to book an appointment. It is a good idea to google the health care services in your area to find out where and how to get tested.
Most doctors have a good level of English, which can make appointments much easier.
Girls between the age of 11-12 are entitled to free HPV vaccinations via the school healthcare system.
Sex-workers and men who have sex with men are entitled to free hepatitis B vaccinations. Contact your local sexual health clinic or GP for more information.
Cervical cancer screening tests, commonly known as smear tests (papa-testi), are free. In Finland, women are invited to their first smear test when they are 30 and are then tested every 5 years until they are 60. If something abnormal is detected, the testing frequency will be increased.
An invitation with a date, time and place for your appointment will be sent to your home address (it is possible to change the appointment if needed). If you wish to be tested before the standard age (30), talk to your GP or gynaecologist. Some municipalities have started testing women from the age of 25, so you should check this with your local health services.
Condoms are widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies and are not expensive. Sexual health clinics will also give you a few for free after an appointment.
There’s a lot of female contraception available in Finland and it can be hard to know which one to use. Make an appointment with your GP, gynaecologist or at a local sexual health centre to discuss your options.
For hormonal based contraception, such as the contraceptive pill (e-pilleri) or contraceptive patch (ehkäisylaastari), you will need a prescription. When you have the prescription, it’s usually easy to renew it.
If you are already using a contraceptive pill from your home country, there may be an equivalent or similar one available in Finland. Bring your contraceptive pill box or prescription with you to your appointment for your doctor to see.
For the implant (ehkäisykapseli) or IUD (kierukka), you will need to make a further appointment to have it fitted. Some doctors and clinics ask you to buy the implant or IUD from a pharmacy before this appointment (they will give you a prescription to do this) and bring it with you. Others will provide them and you simply pay for the device when you have it fitted.
You can get the emergency contraceptive pill (the morning after pill) from a pharmacy without a prescription, but the pharmacist will ask you a few questions before you are able to buy it to make sure you know how to use it and are aware of the possible complications.
Abortion is legal in Finland with permission from a doctor. Before the 12th week of pregnancy, it is quite easy to get this permission. After 12 weeks, permission is only given in certain circumstances e.g. if continuing the pregnancy puts the mother’s life at risk. For more information and support, click here.