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Sexual health

Sexual Health Centre

Main clinic will be closed on August 10, 2017

Important information

 The Sexual Health Center is funded to provide such services to the following:  The Sexual Health Centre provides free and confidential STI (sexually transmitted infections) testing and treatment, and low cost birth control to Ontario residents.

To ensure that we are the best service to meet your needs, we encourage you to review what services we  offer and do not offer . At the time of your visit, a triage nurse will also review your sexual health concerns. Depending on your needs, you may be referred to a more appropriate health service.

**PLEASE NOTE: Your family physician (GP) or nurse practitioner (NP) and University or College Health Services can provide STI testing, Pap tests and birth control. The Sexual Health Clinic DOES NOT provide faster results for STI testing than your GP, NP or other clinics.

**PLEASE NOTE: Out of province residents must call us at 613-234-4641 before coming to the clinic regarding available services.

For resources for Quebec residents please see “More resources

All ages eligible for services at main clinic, youth 29 and under also have access to youth clinics.

We offer

  • Information on STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and contraception
  • Free testing and treatment for STIs
  • Confidential or anonymous HIV testing
  • Emergency contraception (ECP)- Plan B only
  • Affordable contraception (for those who qualify)
  • IUD/IUS insertion (by appointment only at main clinic)
  • Pregnancy testing & information about options
  • Hepatitis A & B immunization (for those who qualify)
  • Vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) (for those who qualify)
  • Free condoms

We DO NOT assess or treat:

  • Blood work for herpes or pregnancy
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pain, sores or bumps in the mouth or throat including cold sores.
  • Scabies, crabs or lice
  • Sexual dysfunction (erection and arousal difficulties, timing of ejaculation, low libido)
  • Fertility, miscarriage or menopause

In the above cases you should NOT come to the Sexual Health Centre; instead, please see your Family Physician or a Walk-In Clinic.  In the case of an Emergency, please go directly to the nearest Hospital.

**PLEASE NOTE: Your family physician (GP) or nurse practitioner (NP) and University or College Health Services can provide STI testing, Pap tests and birth control. The Sexual Health Clinic DOES NOT provide faster results for STI testing than your GP, NP or other clinics.

The Sexual Health Centre (including youth sexual health clinics):

  • DOES NOT perform an assessment when you have already been referred to or seen a specialist for the same problem
  • DOES NOT perform blood work that your GP or another clinic has requested; if you have a blood work requisition from your doctor, please visit a lab, not the Sexual Health Centre
  • DOES NOT provide the full spectrum of sexual assault services; please go to Emergency Department at The Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus or consult their website.

Closure dates


  • Civic Holiday- Monday August 7, 2017
  • Labour Day - Monday September 4, 2017
  • Thanksgiving - Monday October 9, 2017
  • Christmas – Monday December 25, 2017
  • Boxing Day - Tuesday December 26, 2017
  • New Year’s Day – Monday January 1, 2018

Sexual Health Centre walk-in clinic hours of operation

Main clinic location: 179 Clarence Street, Ottawa

Sexual Health Centre Walk-in clinic 


                            Evening clinic will be closed from 4pm to 7pm on Thursday July 20th 2017

                            Evening clinic will be closed from 4pm to 7pm on Thursday August 3rd 2017

*The Sexual Health Centre opens their doors 60 minutes prior to any walk-in clinic (Monday through Thursday) and 30 minutes prior to the Friday 9am walk-in clinic

  • Mondays and Wednesday from 1 to 4 pm
  • Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 7 pm
  • Friday from 9 am to noon

**PLEASE NOTE: Due to high demand at our walk-in clinics, we may not be able to see everyone. Priority is given to clients based on their need for services. 

Appointment Hours

All appointments are available at 179 Clarence only

  • Monday from 8:45 to 11:30 am
  • Wednesday from 8:45 to 11:30 am (Women’s only clinic)
  • Thursdays from 8:45 to 11:30 am
  • Friday from 8:45 to 11:30 am

** PLEASE NOTE:  Quebec residents, in need of contraception or IUD/IUS insertion, please contact Clinique des Femmes at 819- 778-2055 or visit their website.
For additional resource for Quebec residents please see “More resources

Reception Telephone Hours

Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 12:30 am and 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm.  To book an appointment please call our reception telephone line at 613 234-4641

Youth Sexual Health Community Clinics

Services available to youth aged 29 and under

Please note that these clinics are located within another medical clinic; please tell the receptionist that you are there for the Ottawa Public Health Youth Sexual Health Clinic. All services offered at the main Sexual Health Centre are available at the Youth Sexual Health Clinics, with the exception of IUD/IUS insertions, anonymous HIV testing and Point of Care (rapid) HIV testing. (Confidential HIV testing is available at the Youth Sexual Health Clinics).

**PLEASE NOTE: Due to high demand at our walk-in clinics, we may not be able to see everyone. Priority is given to clients based on their need for services. 

Youth Sexual Health Clinic
(29 years of age and under)


Hours of operation

Closure dates

West End Family Care Clinic -Youth Clinic

80 Michael Cowpland Drive, Kanata

Tuesday: 5 to 8 pm 

Boxing Day - Tuesday December 26, 2017

South Nepean Community Health Centre - Youth Clinic

4100 Strandherd Drive, Suite 201, Barrhaven

Wednesday: 2 to 5 pm


Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre - Youth Clinic

1365 Richmond Road, Second Floor, Ottawa

Monday: 3 to 6 pm

Attention! closed Monday July 31st 2017

Family Day - Monday February 20, 2017

Easter Monday -  Monday April 17, 2017

Victoria Day - Monday May 22, 2017

Civic Holiday- Monday August 7, 2017

Labour Day - Monday September 4, 2017

Thanksgiving - Monday October 9, 2017

Christmas – Monday December 25, 2017

New Year’s Day – Monday January 1, 2018

Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre - Youth Clinic

** New location**
Opening November 2, 2016

240 Centrum 
Suite 105 ( main floor)

Wednesday: 2:00 to 5:00 pm


 PLEASE NOTE: Closed Wednesday August 9th 2017


Overbrook-Forbes Community Family Health Team - Youth Clinic

For services, clients may visit the sexual health clinic a the main location at 179 Clarence Street.


The Overbrook-Vanier satellite clinic will be closed starting January 31, 2017.


Youth Sexual Health School Clinics

Drop-in services available for students attending the following schools.  Youth who do not attend a school with a sexual health clinic can access services at the Sexual Health Centre or the Youth Sexual Health Community Clinics. 




West Carleton High School

3088 Dunrobin Road, Dunrobin

Wednesday: 9 am to noon  (when school is open)

Youth Sexual Health Outreach Clinics

Drop-in services available to youth who are clients at the following locations:




Closure Dates 

Bethany Hope

820 Woodroffe Ave., Ottawa

Tuesday: 1 to 3 pm (every other week)

 Boxing Day- December 27 2016

Operation Come Home

150 Gloucester Street, Ottawa

Thursday: 9:30 to 11:30 am 


YSB – Downtown Services

147 Besserer Street, Ottawa

Thursday: 1 to 4 pm. 



Gay Men’s Sexual Health Clinic

Clinic: Gay Zone Gaie
Location: 420 Cooper St, Ottawa
Hours: Thursday: 5 to 8 pm 

**PLEASE NOTE: Due to high demand at our walk-in clinics, we may not be able to see everyone. Priority is given to clients based on their need for services.

Gay ZONE provides a wide range of programs and services for gay, bi, transmen and other men who have sex with men in the Ottawa area, including:

  • Screening and treatments for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s)
  • HIV testing—rapid and/or anonymous
  • Hepatitis A & B vaccination
  • Gardasil vaccine (for those who qualify)
  • A group for queer youth
  • A variety of health promotion programming


Anonymous HIV testing

Clinic Address  Telephone

Carlington Community Health Centre

900 Merivale Road, Ottawa


Centertown Community Health Centre

420 Cooper Street, Ottawa


Ottawa Inner City Health Services

5 Myrand Avenue, Ottawa


Sandy Hill Community Health Centre

221 Nelson Street, Ottawa


Somerset West Community Health Centre

55 Eccles Street, Ottawa


South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre

1355 Bank Street, suite 600, Ottawa



Call the AIDS and Sexual Health Info Line 1-800-668-2437.  The Sexual Health Centre is a service of Ottawa Public Health.

More resources:

  • Your family doctor
  • Ottawa walk-in clinics
  • University health services if you are a student (U of O, Carleton, Algonquin, Cité Collegiale)
  • For Quebec residents, please call your local CLSC Info-Santé line
  • For pregnancy concerns, please contact Planned Parenthood Ottawa to make an appointment: 613-226-3234.

More resources for Quebec residents

STBBI Screening Clinic: CLSC de Gatineau
85 Saint-Rédempteur Street
With and without appointment: 819 966-6532 or 1-800-463-6066
With appointment: Monday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday 1 pm to 9 pm
Drop in: Tuesday and Thursday 1 pm to 8:30 pm             


The Sexual Health Center is funded to provide such services to the following:

  • People with symptoms of STIs
  • People who have had sex with someone with an STI
  • People most affected by STI 1,2
    • People aged 29 and under
    • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer persons,
    • Men who have sex with men
    • People who are Aboriginal or of black ethnicity
    • New immigrants from countries where HIV is endemic
    • People involved in the sex trade industry
    • People who use injection drugs and/ or who smoke crack                 

1 Public Health Agency of Canada. Canadian guidelines on sexually transmitted infections (2013)
Ottawa Public Health, Health Report (2014)

What to expect at the Sexual Health Centre

The Sexual Health Centre opens 30 minutes prior to each walk-in clinic to allow clients to register.

How to prepare for your visit

  • Please do not urinate 1 hour before your visit
  • You do not need to fast for blood work

When you arrive (Triage process):

You will be asked to fill out a form with your contact information (unless you require an anonymous HIV test only). When you have filled out the top half of the form only, a nurse will call you to discuss briefly the reason(s) for your visit and give a quick overview of the clinic process. This information will be used to start a medical record for you or retrieve your existing file.
Each client receives a number, which will be used to identify you during your visit.

Please note that clients are not seen in numerical order. Each person is here for a different reason. The clinic’s policy is to make sure the most appropriate health care practitioner sees each person as quickly as possible. In order to achieve this, sometimes clients are seen out of order from their assigned numbers.
Expect your visit to last more than an hour. The visit may include an assessment, on site testing, blood work and treatment.

The interview:

When your number is called you will be seen by a nurse who will ask you a series of questions, including:

  • the reason for your visit
  • contact information
  • medical and sexual history

Your answers are used to determine the type of services that may be beneficial to you. The information you share with any health care practitioner at the clinic is completely confidential.

At this time, the nurse may provide you with information about sexually transmitted infections, safer sex and birth control options. This is also your opportunity to ask any questions you have about sex or sexual health and to voice your concerns.

The assessment:

After your interview, if an exam is required you will be directed to an examination area where a doctor or nurse practitioner will see you. Depending on the number of clients on the day of your visit, there may be a wait before you are brought to an examination room.

During the exam, the doctor or nurse practitioner may do a number of tests depending on your assessment, whether you have symptoms and your risk for sexually transmitted infections.


The clinic can test for several types of sexually transmitted infections. Most infections have a “window period” before they can be detected. The table below summarizes how we conduct our most common tests, and the window periods associated with each infection. Based on your sexual history, the health care practitioner will determine what type of testing is appropriate at the time of your visit.

Infection Testing Window period
Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea

Urine sample, swab of the cervix

Swab of the  throat or rectum

Testing can be done at the time of presentation*

 48 hours after a sexual contact*

Syphilis Blood test 4-6 weeks after a sexual contact*
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) Blood test 12 weeks after potential risk*

*Public Health Agency of Canada. Canadian Guidelines on Sexually Transmitted Infections, 2008 - Revised version.


It can take up to 3 weeks for results to come back from the lab. If you do not hear from us, test results are NEGATIVE. Pap test results usually take up to six weeks. Please do not call for results as we are unable to provide results by telephone. You may return to the clinic after 3 weeks for a copy of your results. 

If a test is positive (which means your test showed you have an infection) you will be contacted by a Public Health Nurse about treatment and may be asked for information about your sexual partners. This information will be used to contact these partners to ensure that they are tested and treated. All information will be kept confidential. Your name will not be given to these partners.

For more information, or to speak with a Public Health nurse, please contact 613-234-4641 or the AIDS and Sexual Health Info Line 1-800-668-2437. 


Sexually transmitted infections (STI/STD)

Tips for parents on teaching sexuality

Parents truly are the primary sexuality educators for their children. Children learn from parents as they are loved, cared for, guided and comforted. They observe us with our partner, our own parents, in our roles at home, at work, and in our communities.

Tips for parents on teaching sexuality

Clarify your own values about sexuality

Know where you stand, and be clear with your child. Remember to talk about love, relationships, communication and intimacy as well as the consequences of sexual activity.

Consider your child's stage of development

Be sensitive to your child's level of intellectual development. Consider what your child is going through socially and emotionally. You will find examples of his or her understanding in some of the questions asked. Preschool children need factual information, but not necessarily long explanations. Everyday situations your child experiences will also help guide your discussions. Preteens will be very concerned about having friends, fitting in and feeling normal. Older adolescent may be concerned with dating, relationships and different social pressures.

Share your values, don't lecture or preach

Remember not to impose your beliefs, to avoid a battle of wills. Listen to what your child has to say. Adolescents want to make up their own minds and trying to force your values and beliefs on them could result in them rejecting your opinion to be independent thinkers. Let your child know what you believe and why. You can try starting with "I feel/believe that… Because…". You have a great deal of influence with your child. Keep the lines of communication open so that your child feels it’s easy to approach you.. Let your child know that you love them and that you always want to help, even if they do things you do not like.

It's okay to feel uncomfortable

You don't need to be a 'sex expert' to help your child. The process of opening up and being willing to talk is important. Admit your discomfort. Your child will appreciate your honesty, and your willingness to deal with a little discomfort to discuss an important subject. If you can't answer a question, suggest that you and your child find the answer together. You also don't have to answer a question right away. You can acknowledge that the question is an important one, and you'd like a little more time to think about your answer. Be sure to go back to your child to continue the discussion, once you have had a chance to think.

Reward questions

Always let your child know that you're glad that they came to you with their question. Make sure that you understand what they're really asking ("Where did I come from?" may actually mean "What city was I born in?"). Many questions that children and adolescents ask are really " questions about being normal in disguise. Make sure that you answer these hidden questions. Find out what they already know about the topic, so that your answer meets their needs.

Don't always wait until they ask the question

Some children will never ask, but they need the same information as everyone else. Use situations that come up in everyday life to raise the issue, for instance use a friend or relative’s pregnancy to ask if they’ve thought about where babies come from. Television programs that you watch together may be another way to introduce a topic for discussion.

Talking with preschool and school-aged children about sexuality (3 to 8 years)

Start Early

  • You have time to think about the values and beliefs you have around sexuality, so you’ll have a clear idea what you want to share with your child
  • Talk about things a bit at a time, and gradually build on topics you've already discussed
  • Establish a level of comfort with your child on sexuality-related topics. You'll appreciate this when your child is older, and the issues become more complex)

A few basics

  • Use 'dictionary' words for body parts, in a matter of fact way (e.g., "OK, now it's time to wash your penis"). Children will learn the correct terms - breasts, vulvas and penises are not dirty and they have permission to talk about them.
  • Let your child know the term 'private parts' generally refers to the body parts that are covered by a bathing suit. Children need to know that only they can touch their private parts, although parents or caregivers may need to help them sometimes with washing or after using the toilet. Let them know they can always talk to you about this.

Reading a book with your child can be a wonderful way to begin discussions.

Some children may never ask questions, but they still need the same information. If your child hasn't asked about where babies come from by the age of six or seven, start thinking of ways to bring the subject up (talk about a television show where someone is pregnant, or a friend who is about to have a baby).

  • Talk about masturbation as it comes up; it is very normal for children to masturbate, touch or hold their genitals for comfort or pleasure. Acknowledge that it feels very nice but that it is a private activity.
  • Some girls begin to menstruate as early as eight or nine years old. Menstruation usually begins about two years after breasts begin to develop, so young girls who are experiencing breast development will need to be prepared for their first period.

Where did I come from?

Here are some ideas for approaching the big question:

  • Reward the question - "That’s a very good question, I’m so glad you came to ask me."
  • Find out what your child may already know or think about this question by asking. Some young children may only be trying to find out the city they were born in. Use this as an opportunity to begin talking about when your child was born.
  • You don’t have to explain everything at once; give your child the basics and let them absorb what you’ve said as they may have other questions. This could be an opportunity to talk about sexual intercourse if you feel the time is right.
  • You may have to explain things more than once, as your child may not take in everything you say the first time

Here is one suggestion for tackling this sort of question: “To make a baby, you need sperm from the man, and an ovum - a tiny egg - from the woman. The sperm - a special kind of seed - is made in the man’s testicles, and it comes out of his penis. The sperm uses the same tube as urine to get out. The ova (plural for ovum) are made in the woman's ovaries, which are inside her body, in her lower abdomen. For the sperm and the egg to get together, the man puts his penis inside the woman's vagina. When the sperm comes out of his penis, it swims up through the uterus and into a special tube where it meets the ovum. One sperm joins with the ovum, and a new baby has begun.” You may want to include a few other points, like your own personal or cultural values, or that this is a grown up activity that feels really nice for both partners and that it is one way that grown-ups who love each other show their love for one another.

A few words about development

A child’s ability to think and understand is strongly influenced by his or her level of development. For example, preschoolers may invent explanations for things if they don’t have the correct information. Slightly older children understand what is real and what is make believe, but their thinking is very much in the here and now ('concrete thinking’). You can help children to understand by making connections with something they have experienced (e.g. “Remember how big Aunt Julie’s belly got before Simon was born? He was growing inside her uterus.”) Children also love to hear about when their mom was pregnant with them, and the stories surrounding their birth. Children who are adopted will also enjoy hearing about how they came into their parent’s lives (this is a personal decision for adoptive parents).

Although talking about sexuality with children can cause a little anxiety for parents, it is well worth the effort. You may find that the discussions that you have with your child will bring the two of you closer together. You will also show your children that they can come to you when they need to talk.