You’ll find some of the most common information we’re asked right here on this page. It is not a complete list, but should help you get started in accessing what you need to maintain the best possible sexual health.

Click on the question to reveal the answer.

How do I…

… get free or cheap birth control?

Birth control can be expensive, but there are ways to access affordable forms.

  • If you have private health insurance, find out what is covered by your plan. Talk to your health care provider about picking one that is covered and fits your needs.
  • If you are covered by public health insurance (Family Pharmacare or Community Services), there are several different hormonal options covered under the provincial formulary. One of these may work for you.
  • Consider the copper IUD. The upfront cost may be high, but will average out to a cheap monthly cost if you keep it over many years.
  • Visit a sexual health centre for free condoms, dams, and lube. Other places may have condoms: hospitals, medical centres, schools, etc.
  • See if the dollar store has cheap condoms.
  • Ask your doctor or OB/GYN to apply for the Compassionate Contraceptive Assistance Program on your behalf. You can sometimes get hormonal birth control covered at no cost to you.
  • See if your doctor or nurse practitioner has free samples in their office that suit your needs.
  • Research natural methods such as the Fertility Awareness Method. These methods won’t work for everyone, but may be an option for you. It only involves work, buying a thermometer and charting equipment (which can be done with free mobile apps or old-fashioned paper).
  • Talk to The Red Door and see if they have any reduced cost contraception that works for you.
  • The Halifax Sexual Health Centre often carries reduced cost contraception.

… get the morning after pill?

Emergency contraception, or the morning after pill, is like an emergency birth control pill you can take after unprotected intercourse.

It is relatively easy to find and can be taken several days after sexual activity despite the name “morning after” pill.

Although it may not work for everyone, it may help prevent an unplanned pregnancy by reducing the risk of an egg being released by the ovary.

It will work best if you take it early (within 24 hours) and are under 160-180 pounds (they’re still researching whether it works effectively for overweight people). You can also get a copper IUD to prevent an unplanned pregnancy, but this will require at least two medical appointments within a week for it to work (one for a prescription, the next for insertion).

How do you get emergency contraception?

  • Visit any drug store and look for it in the family planning section with the condoms. If you don’t see it, ask at the pharmacy counter. (Most local pharmacies keep it behind the counter, but you don’t NEED a prescription.) If you run into any troubles, visit another pharmacy.
  • It costs anywhere from $24 to $34, depending on whether you buy the brand name (Plan B) or generic form (Next Choice).
  • If you are on a private drug plan or any provincial plans through Community Services or Family Pharmacare and get a prescription quickly, it is likely covered by the plan. It may be more affordable.
  • If you have experienced an assault, you may be able to get it for free through the emergency room as part of your treatment plan.

… get help after a sexual assault?

Firstly, it is not your fault. And there are supports to help you through the aftermath of sexual violence.

The South Shore now has a special program that allows anyone over 16 to visit any hospital and use the new SANE program. A special nurse and mental health professional can meet you in the hospital and provide treatment and evidence gathering IF you want. You can also store evidence anonymously until you decide whether you want to report the assault to police. (If you are under 16, Child Protection becomes involved and you are treated at the IWK in Halifax.)

To get help after an assault:

  • If you are in danger or injured, call 911.
  • Visit any local emergency room and ask about the new SANE program. (It is available at Liverpool, Lunenburg, and Bridgewater.)
  • If you are under 16, you can access treatment through the IWK and Child Protection.
  • Contact Harbour House, which can help arrange for transportation to hospital or the shelter. They also offer support.
  • Get support at Second Story Women’s Centre. This could be for a recent or historic assault.
  • Call your local police department if you wish to report the assault.
    • Bridgewater RCMP 902.527.5555
    • Lunenburg RCMP 902.634.8674
    • Queens RCMP 902.354.5721
    • Chester RCMP 902.275.3583
    • Bridgewater Police Service 902.543.2464
  • NS Victim Services, Western Region provides a range of services to victims of crime including support and information as your case goes through the system. Call 1.800.565.1805.
  • Talk to any health care provider who may be able to offer support and resources. You may want to access testing for infections or mental health support.
  • You can also look under the resources available for mental health services.

… get birth control?

Some forms of birth control require prescriptions, and others can be picked up in your community.

For forms requiring prescriptions (hormonal methods, IUDs, diaphragms and other cervical products), you can:

  • Visit your doctor or nurse practitioner for a prescription.
  • Visit the walk-in clinic at the South Shore Regional Hospital. There are walk in clinics around the province.
  • Make an appointment at the Halifax Sexual Health Centre and see one of their health care providers.
  • If you can get to Kentville and are between 13 and 30, you may be able to get an appointment at The Red Door.
  • Ask a pharmacist if they can do a month’s refill on your prescription until you can get into a practitioner for a renewal. (They can do that, although they may charge a fee. Look around for the best deal.)

For birth control forms not requiring prescriptions, you can shop around:

  • Pick up free condoms or dams at our Centre or at any of our community sites. If you’re in Kentville, check out The Red Door.
  • You can buy condoms, vaginal films, spermicides, and sponges at drug stores and other sites selling “family planning” supplies. This also includes online retailers.
  • Some dollar stores even sell condoms.

For natural methods (which require commitment and education, as well as a willingness to experience an unplanned pregnancy):

  • You can buy thermometers and other ovulation monitoring supplies at pharmacies and other retailers, including those online.
  • Download fertility monitoring software for your mobile devices. These make charting easy.

 

… get an abortion?

Abortions are safe, legal procedures in Canada, although they may be difficult to access. Some health care providers may decline referring you for an abortion, but they should be willing to help you find someone who will refer you.

In Nova Scotia, most abortions are surgical, which are done after about 8 weeks and before approximately 15 weeks (talk to your provider for their exact date range).

In Canada, there is a new option: a medical abortion called Mifegymiso. However, doctors are not publicly stating whether they offer it. If you have a doctor, talk to them about whether they offer it. If not, you could encourage them to take the training. As of the Summer of 2017, it is not known how many doctors in Nova Scotia have taken the training to offer Mifegymiso. Locally, you may still have to go with a surgical abortion.

Ways you can get a referral for a surgical abortion:

  • See your own family doctor or nurse practitioner and get a referral to an OB/GYN who can perform the procedure locally at the South Shore Regional Hospital.
  • Visit outpatients or the walk-in clinic at the South Shore Regional Hospital for a referral. Health care providers have the right to decline to provide you with the referral for ethical reasons, but should be willing to help you find a doctor who will. Ask for another doctor, or visit the clinic when another doctor is there.
  • Get a referral from a health care provider at the Halifax Sexual Health CentreThe Red Door in Kentville may be an option for people under 30. Contact them at 902.679.1411 or info@thereddoor.ca. Both of these organizations are pro-choice and will support you in accessing an abortion.
  • Call the Termination of Pregnancy Unit in Halifax at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre at 902.473.7072. If you’d like some idea of one person’s experience circa 2011, visit this personal blog. Please note some language is used that not all readers will find appropriate.
  • It will take several trips until you’ve had the procedure, including the first check up, bloodwork/ultrasound, and the procedure itself.
  • If transportation is a problem, Maritime Abortion Support Services may be able to find a volunteer to help you get there. Their email is masshfx@gmail.com

… get STI/STBBI testing?

Because sexually transmitted and blood borne infections may have no symptoms, you may want to consider testing on a regular basis if you are sexually active.

If you have a symptom that is concerning you, or want to be proactive about screening for infections, there are many ways to get checked:

  • Ask your family doctor or nurse practitioner to test you for infections. This may require blood work and/or swabs.
  • See if anyone at outpatients or the walk-in clinic at South Shore Regional Hospital will do testing for you. One of the challenges of doing this at a walk-in clinic is the follow up (the results have to go somewhere).
  • Make an appointment at the Halifax Sexual Health Centre. They do anonymous HIV testing as well.
  • There is also a drop in STD clinic at the Victoria General in Halifax.
  • The Red Door in Kentville can do testing for people under 30.
  • Visit a Well Woman’s Clinic and see if they can do the test. Call 902.543.1452 and leave a message. They will call you back when there’s a new clinic.

… get a Pap test?

The recommendations for Pap tests have changed. To see the current timelines for screening, visit this link to the Canadian Cancer Society.

If you still need one, there are several ways you can be screened:

  • Make an appointment at the Halifax Sexual Health Centre.
  • See if anyone at outpatients or the walk-in clinic at South Shore Regional Hospital will do testing for you. One of the challenges of doing this at a walk-in clinic is the follow up (the results have to go somewhere).
  • Visit a Well Woman’s Clinic. Call 902.543.1452 and leave a message. They will call you back when there’s a new clinic.
  • Ask your local community clinic. Some small communities have medical centres.
  • The Red Door in Kentville can do them for people under 30.
  • Remember that Pap tests do not screen for sexually transmitted infections. However, your practitioner can do swabs at the same time, so ask if you’d like to be tested. Some infections may require blood work screening as well.

… find out if I’m pregnant?

Pregnancy tests are easy to find, although a positive test needs to be confirmed by a visit to a health care provider.

  • Buy a test at any drug store. Sometimes you can find them at dollar stores as well.
  • Visit our Centre for a free test.
  • See your family doctor or nurse practitioner.
  • See if anyone at outpatients or the walk-in clinic at South Shore Regional Hospital will do testing for you.
  • If you think you’re pregnant, but the test comes back negative (not pregnant) try another test in a week, or early in the morning when your bladder is full.

… find a family doctor or nurse practitioner?

Finding a health care professional to take care of you and your family can be a challenge. It may also require some calls and emails before you hit the jackpot.

  • Visit this site to see if there are any new physicians taking patients.
  • Try the new collaborative care centre in Bridgewater. They will be taking new patients over time. Call 902.527.1549 or email healthcentre (at) ssdha.nshealth.ca
  • Call around and see if anyone is taking new patients.
  • If a family member has a doctor they like, ask them if they’ll take you on because you’re family.

… access LGBTQ* friendly health care?

Accessing primary health care can be difficult for anyone, but especially if you are not cisgender and/or straight. There are ways, though, to find allies in the health care field as well as those who keep current on issues specific to those who are LGBTQ*.

  • Ask your family doctor or nurse practitioner if they are comfortable with LGBTQ* patients and their specific needs.
  • Visit the Halifax Sexual Health Centre. They also provide services particular to people who are transgender, including hormone therapy.
  • Some local practitioners are not always comfortable starting hormone therapy, but may be willing to carry on once it’s begun. Ask your family doctor or nurse practitioner if they will be willing to refill prescriptions and do maintenance once you’re started.
  • Contact prideHealth, based in Halifax. They also have a list of providers who are LGBTQ* friendly.
  • Contact Addiction and Mental Health Services to access local workers who are trained to support people who are transgender. This includes navigating hormone therapy, publicly funded surgeries, and other relevant health care.

… access mental health support?

There are several options for mental health support, depending on whether you need support in a crisis, or in general. If you are having thoughts of suicide or harm, talk to someone right away and tell them about your feelings.

In a crisis or emergency:

  • Call 911 if you feel as though you will harm yourself or someone else. You can also go directly to a hospital outpatients department/emergency room.
  • During business hours, self-refer yourself to Addiction and Mental Health Services. Someone will assess you and take it from there. The number is 902.543.5400.
  • Call the provincial crisis line any time at 1-888-429-8167 (toll free).

If you are not in direct crisis, but still need general support:

  • Talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner. They can now consult early with someone from Addiction and Mental Health.
  • During business hours, you can call Addiction and Mental Health Services and refer yourself to services. Someone will assess you and take it from there. The number is 902.543.5400.
  • Call 211 for community options.
  • If you go to high school, ask your guidance counsellor what they can do to support you. You may also be able to see the school-based worker from Addiction and Mental Health Services, or arrange to see someone through your SchoolsPlus worker. Our local board also has psychologists on staff.
  • Post-secondary institutions like NSCC and universities have counselling staff. There may also be doctors or nurse practitioners available if your school has a health clinic.
  • Call 811 to talk to a registered nurse.
  • If you have insurance or money to pay for private counselling, you can research the possibilities here or here and no doubt through other listings as well.

If you have specific needs, you’ll find various supports available for free:

  • Second Story Women’s Centre offers support for women.
  • Harbour House has a 24/7 outreach and a support line if you’ve experienced/are experiencing violence and abuse.
  • Freeman House offers support and counselling for youth and families as well as men who use violence in their relationships.
  • Youth can call Kids Help Phone.
  • The Trans Lifeline offers support for people who are transgender.
  • Youth who are LGBT* can get support from the Youth Project through their provincial outreach.

… learn more about services and health?

If you haven’t found any answers here, there are a few more options:

  • Call 811 to talk to a nurse.
  • Call 211 to learn about what services are in your community. You can also search their website.
  • Contact us!

… arrange for adoption?

There are a variety of options for adoption in Nova Scotia.

  • If you have money for a lawyer, you can talk to them about some forms of adoption (e.g. having a partner adopt a child, private family adoptions). You can also look into Legal Aid.
  • Other adoptions (e.g. giving up your child for adoption) are handled through Community Services. If you have any questions, contact your regional office for more information. The Bridgewater office has a general info line at  902.543.5527. Tell them you are interested in adoption. You also call them if you are interested in adopting a child.
  • International adoptions depend on the country in which the child was born. Contact a reputable agency for more information on international adoptions.
  • If you’d like more information on adoption in NS, click here and here.

If you see anything that needs updating or changing, contact us and we’ll get on it.