A Guide to Sexual Health Services in Portugal

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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

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

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

Porto

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. 

Aveiro 

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). 

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Article originally published on 27 September, 2018

9 thoughts on “A Guide to Sexual Health Services in Portugal”

  1. How does one access HIV medication in Portugal? Free or paid for. where does one go? to a specific HIV specialist centre or to their local Dr?

    Reply
    • Hi Chinyo,

      I’m not sure, but if it’s ongoing treatment (as opposed to emergency HIV treatment) then you would likely visit your doctor at your local centro de saúde. At the very least, he or she will be able to refer you to the right place.

      Options for emergency post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) medication are mentioned in the article.

      Reply
    • Hi Chinyo

      I am HIV+ and living in Portugal. I went to my local doctor who told me to refer myself to the hospital. Our doctor is a locum and not very helpful. I should imagine other doctors will do a referral but that said I had no difficulty in simply presenting myself at the hospital so if you want to avoid your local Centro de Saúde I imagine you can do the same. At the hospital, they have a specialist HIV clinic which I found very friendly and helpful. I was assigned to a consultant to whom I explained what medication I am on and they prescribed the same. The medication is free and you collect it from the hospital pharmacy. The hospital doctor sees me every six months for blood tests and a consultation. The service has been excellent.

      Reply
      • Hi Michael,

        Thank you so much for taking the time to reply as it isn’t something I know enough about to really comment on.

        Reply
  2. Thank you for this article. This helped me a lot, I went at Hospital de Santo António dos Capuchos did everything as you suggested and the consultation went amazingly. I was super surprised when the nurse informed that these tests are free of cost.
    I had a question though do they send the requests via email only or do they post it at my address? I did ask the doctor and he said they’ll email me but the lady at the counter was saying it would be posted🤷‍♀️ A bit confused. Please let me know if you have any idea since the results will be back after a week and I’ll be moving back to my home country tomorrow.

    Reply
    • Hi Katie,

      I don’t know what that particular hospital does, but if you’ve asked a doctor to send results by email they’re normally very good at doing that. If you don’t get anything next week, just phone up and ask for them to be emailed to you.

      Reply
  3. Just FYI – Abraço Porto (not sure about Aveiro) do NOT test for gonorrhoea and chlamydia. They said if a person displays symptoms they can get referred to a doctor/hospital for treatment, but if no symptoms and just looking for a test (since it’s possible to have gonorrhoea and/or chlamydia without symptoms) the only options they’re aware of are private clinics, which are quite costly.
    I found online these two places:
    CAD – https://acesportoocidental.org/pt/centro-de-aconselhamento-e-detecao-do-vihsida
    APF – http://www.apf.pt/infecoes-sexualmente-transmissiveis
    Both said they normally test for gonorrhoea and chlamydia, but because of covid those tests aren’t available. So for now, no tests?
    I’m doing my research, but if you/anyone finds a place in Porto that does free testing for gonorrhoea and chlamydia please do share this info. Thanks

    Reply
  4. Afaik you could do a FREE and anonymous Hepatitis B test at Farmacia Cordeiro in Cascais – results are instant.

    They also offer a HIV home test from France (Mylan) for 22.75 EURO with instant results. You could test yourself or partner in privacy.

    Both offers are part of a pilot project which aims to eventually test 90% of the population for the most crucial stds: hiv & hepatitis, but currently are at very limited locations.

    Stay safe!

    p.s. address of the pharmacy: Largo Cidade de Vitória 7
    p.p.s. they don’t seem to always have the tests on stock so call ahead 21 482 6200

    Reply

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