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Recent questions

Is abortion for Isle of Man Residents funded by the NHS?

The short answer is no! Currently abortion is not available in the Isle of Man. There are exceptional circumstances e.g. where there are severe medical reasons for the pregnancy to be terminated paid on medical grounds but this is a rare occurrence.

If this is about you personally then the following information might be helpful, if not about you personally - it is up to you whether you want any further info.

Firstly it is important to find out if you are definitely pregnant and seek advice. The earlier you get help and support the better. These are difficult choices, but there are people to help and support you such as your GP or the family planning clinic or a trusted friend or relative. You may feel very alone and secrets are hard to keep, but there are always options and people to talk to. However, you’ve made the first step to find out what help is available, and this information is useful to you and your friends should anyone find themselves in this situation. 

If you have found out that you are pregnant and want to consider an abortion it would be a private service in the UK. You would have to pay for travel and the costs of the procedure which would vary depending on how many weeks pregnant you are, but could be up to 600.  This is a lot of money to find so think carefully about how you might find it without causing yourself more problems.

Go online or ring Brook advisory which are based in the Liverpool area and they will let you know what options are available. You will feel much better when you have found out all the options and information available.

If you have had unprotected sex, emergency contraception (Pills) are available and need to be used within 24 hours or an intrauterine device (like a coil which is fitted into your womb) could be fitted by a GP or the family planning clinic up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. Long term reliable contraception can be sorted at your GP.

Only 50% of pregnancies are planned so you’re not the first person to look at the options. If you need any advice or information, please contact the Family Planning Clinic on 642186. They will be pleased to give you help and information and they also support women whichever choice they make.

If a girl has had birth control should I still use a condom?

It’s really great that you are taking contraception into consideration it’s not just a girl issue, and thinking about the risks of infection for you and your partner. Being responsible and showing respect for your partner are as important as any sexual activity you’re considering.

In answer to your question - Yes you are both still at risk from sexually transmitted infections and HIV and no contraception is 100% effective. For example, depending on the method - if it was the pill she could forget, take it at the wrong time or not absorb it if she is ill or has an upset tummy. There’s lots of advice online at Brook they have great info.  Also the local or GUM clinic can give you advice. To book an appointment, contact the clinic on 650710. You can find the clinic opening times here.

Are eCigs bad for your lungs?

That’s a great question! A recent review showed that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoked tobacco. The current best estimate is that e-cigarette use is around 95% less harmful to health than smoking. While vaping may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals that cause smoking-related diseases are not there. The chemicals that are present have a low level of danger. Low levels of toxicants and carcinogens have been detected in e-cigarette liquid and vapour, these are much lower than those found in conventional cigarette smoke, with no identified health risks to others stood near to you. However, there are still some concerns about how e-cigarettes are currently regulated, as different products vary considerably in quality and content. We do not yet know their long-term safety. If you are looking to stop smoking, the stop smoking services can offer licensed medications like nicotine replacement therapy or Champix - they also support people trying to quit smoking tobacco by using e-cigarettes. Hope this helps!

More info can be found here and here.


Does Marijuana harm your lungs?

Marijuana (also known as cannabis) is harmful to your lungs.  This is because generally speaking any smoke entering the lungs is not going to be good for them, whether that is tobacco or cannabis.  There are further complications associated with cannabis use and the lungs. Cannabis and tobacco share a lot of the same chemicals and impurities and although we know far less about the effects of cannabis smoke than the effects of tobacco smoke, evidence shows that cannabis smoking does pose a substantial hazard to our lungs.  For instance, smoking cannabis can cause chronic coughing, wheezing, acute bronchitis, tuberculosis and other more series illnesses.  It is often the way that cannabis is smoked that causes further harm also.  Taking a deep ‘lung full’ of smoke, holding the smoke in your lungs for a long period of time or sitting in a room that is not well ventilated may all cause further damage to your lungs and contrary to belief, none of these methods will make you feel the effects of the cannabis more.

Cannabis resin burns at a higher temperature than tobacco so the smoke hitting the back of the throat and the top of the lungs is hotter than tobacco smoke.  Resin is also notorious for being cut with all sorts of additives, so you don’t know what you’re smoking.

Herbal cannabis produces quite dense smoke which can be more irritating to lungs.  Cannabis production is a business and so productivity needs to be maintained.  This means the use of chemicals to ensure plants are kept free of pests and disease, which means that they in turn are going to be inhaled in cannabis smoke.

Smoking bongs or pipes can lead to heavier smoke entering the lungs because of the larger quantities produced.  Using too many papers means more burnt paper to inhale, and use of plastic bottles, rubber hoses, foil and aluminium can lead to toxic fumes being given off, so glass, brass or steel pipes would be safer.  Using cigarette filters for a roach can also lead to inhaling more tar as the smoke flow is reduced, which is why plain card would be better.

If you have any concerns about your lungs such as difficulty breathing or chest pain then arrange to see your GP.  There is also professional help available should you feel that your cannabis use is becoming problematic. If you would like any more information or want to speak to someone in confidence about safer ways of using cannabis or indeed stopping altogether you might find Motiv8 and DASH useful.

I’ve had depression for a couple of years, is there anyone I can talk to?

I’ve had depression for a couple of years but it had gone away for a while. I think it’s back again but I really don’t want to see my Doctor about it. I don’t feel like he understands. Is there anyone else I can talk to/contact? I don’t have lots of money to spend for therapy, I just want to feel happy again

Thank you for writing to me. It may be worthwhile trying to book an appointment with another doctor at your practice. Everyone is individual and finding out who you can relate to would be worthwhile. You may want to try your practice nurse in the first instance and she/he may be able to point you in the right direction. You don’t say whether you at school or college but if you are the school nurse would be great starting point or the college student welfare officer. You would not be expected to pay for services so try not to worry about this. The important thing to find out is who can help you and getting the right support. You have made a start by recognising that you want some help so the time is right to move forward with this. There are lots of websites that you can check out that will give you advice for depression and information on different kinds of treatments.

Just remember you don’t have to be on your own and there are people out there who can help. There are all sorts of helplines that offer support and information for managing depression and anxiety - like No Panic, Depression Alliance, MIND, Rise Above and, though I don’t know what age you are, Young Minds (up to 25 years).  MIND has a really good section on ‘what I can do to help myself’ with all sorts of ideas; simple stuff that you may have known and forgotten about. I hope this is helpful and good luck

When and how would I receive my results from the GUM clinic?

GUM clinic aims to give results within 10 working days but it is sometimes quicker than this.

When patients book into clinic they are asked about which method of contact they prefer. Some people prefer “no news is good news”.  Most patients nowadays opt to be texted with their results. If the results are negative a simple text stating “results all clear” will be received. Some patients are asked to return in person for their results, it can really depend on why the person has come to clinic. 

If the clinic needs to discuss any results with a patient who does not have a follow up appointment, they will contact the patient by their preferred method.

The clinic staff understand that it may be difficult for some people to receive texts, phone calls or letters and they are always willing to discuss any options to ensure the person needing the results is not compromised in any way. Hope this helps

How do I contact the GUM clinic? can I email them to book an appointment?

How do I contact the GUM clinic? can I email them to book an appointment?

Thank you for getting in touch. Anyone, of any age who is sexually active or thinking of becoming sexually active is welcome at the clinic. Whether it is for a confidential discussion, to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or just for advice anyone can make an appointment to come and see the team at the GUM Clinic. You can even bring a friend along for support if it helps.

You are not able to email the clinic for an appointment but you can ring the clinic on 650710. The clinic’s opening times are below. Good luck!

  • Mon 2pm to 5pm
  • Tues 2pm to 5pm and 6pm to 8pm
  • Wed 2pm to 5pm
  • Thurs 9.30am to 12 noon
  • Friday 9.30am to 12 noon and 2pm to 5pm.

    I recently got engaged.  But I am struggling to tell my parents

    I recently got engaged.  But I am struggling to tell my parents about it and can’t find the words to tell them either.  My dad hates my partner and so I am afraid to tell them. What should I do?!

    Ohh that sounds like a tricky situation for you.

    Relationships as you grow up and become an adult in your own right can be difficult to navigate. Have you thought about talking with your mum on her own first, or asking another family member (for example a sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent etc) or a friend who your parents get along with to be with you when you tell them? It will help to plan or practice what you’re actually going to say; again you can do this in front of a friend too. Have you thought about when might be the best time to tell them, I’d suggest a time when they’re not too stressed and busy and so more likely to listen to you.

    Finally you are your own person and in control of your life, we all do things that parents don’t always like or approve of, but in my experience parents do only want what’s best for their children.

    Good luck!

    When is the best time to get tested? 1 week after sex? Or more?

    It’s not clear from your question whether you want to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI) or pregnancy.

    For pregnancy you can do a pregnancy test from the first day of a missed period. If you do a test before this time, the level of pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), may be too low to show up on the test and you may get a negative result even though you are pregnant. If you don’t know when your next period is due, the earliest time to do a test is three weeks (21 days) after unprotected sex.

    You can buy a pregnancy test from a pharmacy to do yourself, or you can ask for a test to be done at your general practice or a contraception clinic

    For STI testing not everyone who has a sexually transmitted infection has signs and/or symptoms. Sometimes these don’t appear for weeks or months and sometimes they go away, but you can still have the infection and pass it on to someone else. The best thing to do is call the GUM clinic for personal advice and they will talk with you and make you an appointment at the right time for you. Tests can include urine, swab or maybe even a blood test, but it depends on your situation. The clinic is free and confidential, so they won’t tell anyone else (without telling you).

    My partner has been taking heroin and is currently going through a rattle I’m worried about him

    My partner has been taking heroin and is currently going through a rattle I’m worried about him….what can I do he has shut me out and is very angry….He won’t let anyone help him

    I am sorry to hear that your partner is feeling so unwell. I am not sure why he is refusing to seek help from anyone but it could be he is embarrassed about his problem or scared that he may get into trouble. He may also be afraid that family, friends and other people will find out what he is doing. Please be assured that your partners own doctor (GP) has a strict code of confidence and will not tell anyone about your his issues unless they have your partners permission. This code of confidentiality also applies to other services such as the Drug and Alcohol Team and Motiv8. If you are having issues dealing with your partners drug use and don’t know how to support him then you can make an appointment in your own right to speak with someone at Motiv8.

    As your partner is rattling (withdrawing) from heroin, I would really advise him to go in the first instance to his GP to discuss getting medication to help his withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully, when the rattle was over, then your partner might consider seeking specialist help from the Drug and Alcohol Team to discuss his addiction and how to overcome it.

    If he is still determined that he does not wish to speak to anyone, then I can offer the following advice:

    Opiate withdrawal occurs in two phases.

    The first phase includes a number of symptoms, such as: muscle aches, restlessness, anxiety, tearing eyes, runny nose, excessive sweating, sleeplessness and excessive yawning.

    The second phase is marked by: Diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, dilated pupils and rapid heartbeat.

    These initial phases can be followed by long-term withdrawal symptoms. Long-term symptoms are often less physical in nature and may involve emotional or behavioural issues.

    When you’re dependent on opiates, your body is used to having them in your system. Your body might also build up a tolerance to many of the drug’s side effects, like dryness and constipation. Stopping taking opiates may cause a strong reaction.

    If your partner tries to go through withdrawal on their own, they’ll need to be prepared. They should try to slowly taper off opiates before they go off completely. This might limit the intensity of the withdrawal. However, given the compulsive nature of addiction, most people find self-regulated tapering to be impossible, often leading to a full relapse into addiction.

    Dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhoea is common and could lead to serious health complications. Many people end up in the hospital with dehydration when they’re going through withdrawal. Drinking plenty of hydrating fluids during withdrawal is very important.

    Your partner should consider asking a pharmacist about medications for diarrhoea and nausea (feeling like they will vomit) and if they are suffering from aches and pains try paracetamol or ibuprofen.

    Withdrawal symptoms can last for days to weeks. If they have a couple weeks’ worth of medications, they can avoid the need to go out for more. But be careful not to use these medications in amounts greater than the recommended dose. If the regular dose isn??t helping, make sure to discuss the issue with a doctor.

    People who have gone through withdrawal recommend trying to stay as comfortable as possible. They suggest keeping the mind occupied with films, books, or other distractions. Make sure they have soft blankets, a fan, and extra sheets. They may need to change your bedding due to excessive sweating.

    They also suggest making sure a friend or family member knows that you plan on attempting the withdrawal process. Beyond support, people need someone to check on them. Be cautious of ‘recipes’ and stories about ‘magic cures’ described in online forums. None of them have gone through rigorous testing for safety or efficacy.

    It’s important to keep the mind occupied and engaged. Your partner should try to do things they enjoy to increase their body’s endorphins. These are the chemicals in the body that make people feel good. This can improve their chances for long-term success.

    Treats help too, so some chocolate for example (good for endorphins). Getting outdoors and exercising, even if it’s just a walk around the block can also help. Whether in a treatment program or battling withdrawal on individually, people need to be positive and believe that they can overcome the dependence on opiates.

    I hope this helps

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