Sexual health in Spain

Everything you need to know to stay healthy and safe

Sexual health in Spain

Sexual health is important no matter where you are in the world, and knowing what the landscape is like when moving abroad is vital to make sure you stay safe and keep healthy.

Spain is the 8th most adulterous country in the world, suggesting that it is moving away from its Catholic roots. This is demonstrated widely around the country, where public displays of affection often take newcomers by surprise due to the intimacy and prevalence. 

Social norms and education

Despite this, Catholic groups remain vociferous in their stance against “promiscuity”, with one movement attempting to sue the Spanish government for introducing sex education classes to one of the 19 autonomous regions of Spain.

There is no nationwide sexual education curriculum, however despite the opposition of the varying Catholic groups it is largely a welcome and socially acceptable topic. Schools still rely heavily on external health groups to provide classes and workshops, however.

Use of contraception

The use of contraception in Spain is slightly lower than the European average, with 65.7% use compared to 70.5% , while 70% of Spanish women reportedly use contraception during their first sexual encounter.

Murcia, in the south of Spain, has the country’s lowest use (55.8%) compared to the Basque region’s high use (76.7%).

Obtaining contraception

In Spain, contraception is quite easily attainable, at varying levels depending on your chosen method.

Condoms

Far from needing a prescription for male condoms, these can be purchased over the counter in supermarkets and pharmacies, and even from vending machines in public bathrooms. Female condoms are not so widespread, but you can still buy them from pharmacies without a prescription. Select pharmacies are open 24/7.

The pill

A prescription is needed for the pill, however it is often possible to bring your existing prescription from your home country and be allowed to purchase it then and there. When you need to resupply, simply bringing the empty box is often enough. In many cases, the first prescription you receive from your doctor in Spain can be reused for the following months.

IUDs

IUDs are also available in Spain, but are not covered by public health. Visit a gynecologist for a check up and advise on whether it is the right form of birth control for you.

Implant

The implant has been available since 2011 and is even financed in part (60%) by public health. This should mean you will have to pay around €60 if you choose this method.

Emergency contraception

If you require emergency contraception this can also be bought at your local pharmacy for around €20 without a prescription. Note, however, that if you are under the age of 16 the pharmacist has the right to deem whether or not the buyer is mature enough to purchase. Further, a legal precedent has been set in which a pharmacist has the right to refuse sale of the morning-after pill  on conscience grounds.

STDs

The top 5 STDs in Spain are herpes, HPV, trichomoniasis, syphilis, and gonorrhea. From the year 2000 to 2013, however, it is important to note that the STD with most new diagnoses was HIV.

Typically, to be tested for STIs in Spain you can turn up at your local sexual health centre without an appointment, however you might be waiting for up to 2 hours (note that an appointment is not actually possible). Opening hours are generally around 08:45 - 12:00, and the checkup is free, even as a foreigner (however any prescription you are given may be charged if you do not provide a health card).

If you need an english-speaking clinic, OpenHouse is available. Note that non-state clinics may not be free of charge.

Entry restrictions

Spain currently has no entry restrictions regarding carriers of HIV.  

Abortion

Abortion remains legal in Spain, despite efforts from the Rajoy government to make it illegal other than in cases of rape or where the health of the mother was at risk. This would have made Spain one of the toughest European countries regarding stance on abortion.

A new bill has been passed which will require under-18s to provide parental consent to undergo an abortion, however. Until the bill becomes law, it is not obligatory for those 16 and over to have consent.

To have the procedure in Spain, it must be done with 14 weeks of gestation, unless the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother or the fetus shows abnormalities, in which case the duration is extended to 22 weeks. It must be carried out in a public clinic or an accredited private health centre.

Health risks to the mother or abnormalities in the fetus are the only grounds for having the costs of an abortion covered by public health.

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: