A Guide to Sexual Health Services in Portugal

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Last updated on April 17, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 6 minutes

When it comes to sexual health, being proactive is key. It’s important to keep an eye on your sexual wellbeing, and that involves regular screening and checkups. Catching any potential issues early can save you a lot of trouble down the road.

In many countries, getting an STD test involves going to a special sexual health clinic. In the UK, for example, these are often called gum clinics. The US has organisations like Planned Parenthood.

In Portugal, however, things are slightly different.

Here in Portugal, STD testing is normally (but not always) done by your doctor rather than at a specialist STD clinic. If you’re registered and living in Portugal, the public healthcare system has you covered – you will have access to the local health service and can book an appointment with your médico de família (family doctor) to get tested.

But even if you’re not a resident, you still have options. Non-residents can pay to visit a private health clinic or hospital and get checked there or use a testing-by-mail service.

So whether you’re a long-term resident or are just passing through Portugal, taking charge of your sexual health and getting tested for STDs is both important and accessible. In the rest of this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how STD testing works in Portugal so you can look after your health with confidence.

Testing Through the Public Healthcare System

If you’re a legal resident in Portugal, are registered with the public healthcare system and have a número de utente, your first stop for STD testing should be your médico de família (family doctor) at your local centro de saúde. You can book an appointment to discuss your concerns and get tested. The tests are generally free or very low cost. If testing isn’t available on-site, they will arrange an appointment with somewhere that offers it.

If you’re not registered with a doctor, you can still access STD testing through the public system by visiting a health centre or clinic. However, wait times may be longer and the process a bit more complicated than going through your regular doctor. It’s also worth noting that specialist STD clinics aren’t available throughout Portugal.

Online Services

Although testing by mail is becoming more common in other European countries, there are only a few services that offer this in Portugal.

  • Test It Lab – Offers STI testing through blood, urine, or both. Same day results are available on some tests and results are given in both English and Portuguese.

There are a number of private analysis clinics located throughout Portugal (e.g. Germano de Sousa) where you can request testing.

Private Clinics and Hospitals

For non-residents or those who prefer to go the private route, most private clinics and hospitals in Portugal offer STD testing. You’ll need to pay out of pocket, but the process is often quicker and more straightforward than the public system.

Hospital da Luz, for example, is a private hospital chain that has hospitals and clinics throughout Portugal. A map can be found here.

Specialist Sexual Health Clinics

While specialist sexual health clinics are less common in Portugal than in some other countries, there are a few options, particularly in Lisbon:

Centro de Saúde da Lapa (DST): Lisbon’s main public sexual health clinic. They offer a full range of STD tests for free, but appointments are limited and wait times can be long. Go early and be prepared to wait. [Note: As of 2024, You need to make an appointment ahead of time by email, and book far in advance.]

Just about everything is checked for, including herpes, gonorrhoea, 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.

  • Address: R. São Ciro 361200-830 Lisboa

CheckpointLX: A Lisbon clinic aimed primarily at the LGBT community, but open to all. They offer rapid HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B and C testing. Other tests are not available. The service is free, but relies on donations and external funding. You can donate online or at the centre.

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).

Address: Alameda Santo António dos Capuchos, 1169-050 Lisboa

In Porto, the main option for specialist testing is through the organization Abraço, which has a clinic that offers testing for HIV and various other STDs. There is also a private service called Geridoc that can send a doctor to your home for testing.

HIV Testing

In addition to the general STD testing options above, there are a number of clinics and organisations across Portugal that offer standalone HIV testing, often for free. Check out the sites Rede de Rastreio and Positivo for listings of HIV testing locations across the country.

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 has centres in Porto and Aveiro.

Other Tips and Information

  • If you’re not sure where to go for testing, you can call Portugal’s 24-hour health helpline, SNS 24, on 808 24 24 24. Choose option 9 for English.
  • The “morning after pill” for emergency contraception is available at Portuguese pharmacies, family planning clinics, and emergency rooms.
  • Many clinics will allow you to get your results by email rather than having to schedule a follow-up appointment.
  • If you don’t speak much Portuguese, it’s a good idea to learn a few key phrases or bring a Portuguese-speaking friend to your appointment if possible, although some clinics do have English-speaking staff.

The most important thing is to stay on top of your sexual health by getting tested regularly, especially if you have new or multiple partners. While the STD testing process in Portugal may be a bit different than what you’re used to, there are plenty of options available to ensure you can access the care you need. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a clinic or your doctor if you have any concerns.

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). 

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.