It’s important to keep an eye on your sexual wellbeing, and that involves regular screening and checkups.
In many countries, getting an STD test normally involves going to a special sexual health clinic (sometimes called a gum clinic). In Portugal, things are slightly different.
Here in Portugal, STD testing is normally* done by your doctor rather than at a specialist STD clinic. If you’re registered and living in Portugal, you will have access to the local health service but, even if you’re not resident, you can still pay to visit a private health clinic or hospital and get checked there.
*Normally, but there are some alternatives particularly in the cities. See below.
STD Testing in Portugal
As mentioned, in most of Portugal, STD is handled by a doctor rather than at a STD clinic, however, there are some specialist services in the cities.
Lisbon is home to the only sexual health clinic in Portugal, which is located in the Centro de Saúde da Lapa. There are also a few health services that are primarily aimed at the LGBT community here that offer different forms of testing.
Centro de Saúde da Lapa (DST)
The Centro de Saúde da Lapa is a sexual health clinic, much like what you’d find in most other countries. After answering a few questions, you give a urine and blood sample and these are analyzed and the results are available in around 10-14 working days. If this is too long for you, consider using an online STI service (see online pharmacies & online testing services below).
Just about everything is checked for, including herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, etc. Normally you schedule an appointment to get your results, but you can also get them by e-mail. A lot of people there do speak English, although it’s a good idea to have some idea of what you want to say in Portuguese.
The service is free and anonymous, although you may have to pay for prescribed medicines such as antibiotics at the pharmacy. Unfortunately, the clinic is only available a few days per week (see below for details) and they only see 10 people per day.
You should aim to get there as soon as the centre opens (8 am), and ideally a little bit before. When you enter the DST section, you’ll be given a senha with a number on it (like a raffle ticket). You then go upstairs and wait for that number to be called. The senha means everything is done on a first come, first served basis, so it’s worth getting there at 7:45 or earlier so that you get seen quicker. Although it means getting up a bit earlier, it means you’ll be finished a lot quicker.
Next you’ll need to register, if you’re not already in the system. Non-residents should bring their passport and, if you have one, European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You’ll be asked for your address in Portugal, and for your address in your home country.
After this you’ll be given a new number (1-10) and you have to wait until the nurse calls you to ask you some questions about your sexual history. Expect questions along the lines of how many partners you’ve had, what type of sex you practice (vaginal, anal, oral), when you first had sex, and when you last had sex.
Next, you’ll need to see the doctor who will take a look at the symptoms and assess the situation further. If there are any obvious symptoms, the doctor may take a swab which gets sent off for analysis.
Then, after a little more waiting, you’ll go to the nurse who’ll take a blood and a urine sample. If you’re uncomfortable having your blood taken, it’s a good idea to bring something sugary with you.
Finally, you go back to the reception to organise how you will get the results: either a follow-up appointment or by e-mail. In total, you should allow around 2-3 hours for the whole visit. The organisation offers free condoms as well.
- Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 8 am.
- Address: R. São Ciro 361200-830 Lisboa
Dermatology Outpatient Clinic at Hospital de Santo António dos Capuchos
STD testing is also available at the Dermatology section of the Hospital de Santo António dos Capuchos. Like the Centro de Saúde da Lapa, appointments are limited and the service isn’t available every day. It’s a good idea to get there early due to the limited number of appointments and because they’re given on a first come, first serve basis. The service isn’t free, but is inexpensive (around €20).
- Opening hours: Tuesday 8:00 to 10:00, and from 12:00 to 2:00. Thursdays: 8:00 to 10:00
- Address: Alameda Santo António dos Capuchos, 1169-050 Lisboa
CheckpointLX is a sexual health service aimed at gay men in Lisbon although it does not discriminate and anyone can get tested here. Checkpoint LX only really tests for HIV, syphilis, and HBV or HCV. The results for each test are available within 15 minutes. If you are concerned about other STDs, you should visit the Centro de Saúde da Lapa as well.
CheckpointLX encourages regular checkups: roughly 2-3 times per year. The service is free, however, it relies on donations and external funding. You can donate online or at the centre.
- Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 12-20:00.
- Address: Tv. Monte do Carmo 2, 1200-277 Lisboa
In Porto, the main STD testing service (besides visiting a doctor) is Abraço. At Abraço Porto, tests are available for syphilis, hepatitis A, B, and C, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
If you’re based in Porto, private health care service Geridoc can send an English-speaking doctor to visit you in your home and, if required, take the blood and urine samples there. These are then sent off to the lab and the results are sent to you by email. Expect to pay roughly between €50 to €120, depending on your location in Porto and the symptoms.
At Abraço Aveiro, tests are available for syphilis, hepatitis A, B, and C, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. You can also get tested by visiting a doctor.
Everywhere else in Portugal
If you’re living in Portugal and registered with a local doctor, that’s the best place to start. If you’re visiting Portugal, or only here temporarily, you may find it easier to visit a private doctor. Naturally, you’ll have to pay for a consultation but it’ll be a lot more straightforward and often faster than using the public health service.
If you’re not sure where to go then get in touch with Portugal’s 24-hour health helpline, SNS 24, on 808 24 24 24. The service is available in English (choose option 9).
HIV Testing in Portugal
Although there is very little information online about STD testing across Portugal, there is quite a bit of information about HIV testing. Most of the places that test for HIV will also test for other diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis.
Rede de Rastreio has a good list of centres located across Portugal as does Positivo. Abraço also does HIV testing, and in some of the centres they also test for other diseases like syphilis, hepatitis A, B and C, gonorrhea and chlamydia. As well as Lisbon, Abraço have centres in Porto and Aveiro.
Emergency contraception in Portugal
The “morning after pill” is available from Portuguese pharmacies, from family planning clinics, and from emergency rooms. (Read more about buying emergency contraception in Portugal).