Sexual healthcare in the Netherlands

Contraceptives and abortion services are widely available in the Netherlands. Sexual healthcare in cases of sexual (dys)functioning is also available both in hospital settings as well as in smaller practices. Internet counselling is a growing phenomenon too. Information on specific youth-friendly services is available via the Sense website. STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) tests are available throughout the country, including anonymous test facilities.

Abortion

Abortion has long been legalized - up until 24 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion services are widely available, are of high quality and financed by the Ministry of Health. Procedures are such that women can carefully and freely choose to have an abortion or not. Abortion rates are monitored by the Dutch Healthcre Inspectorate in cooperation with abortion clinics and Rutgers WPF.

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

In the Netherlands sexual and reproductive health services are widely available. The morning-after pill can be obtained over the counter and is, just as the regular contraceptive pill, IUD, and Nuvaring, automatically covered by women's basic health insurance.

Healthcare professionals

Sexual healthcare, in relation to sexual (dys)function, sexual identity, intimate relationships, or sexual problems in relation to chronic illness and disability, is automatically covered when delivered by qualified sexologists, or in special clinics. Sexual healthcare by other healthcare professionals may be reimbursed if one has additional insurance. A system of registration of healthcare needs related to sexual and reproductive problems has been developed and is being implemented in healthcare settings, in collaboration with Rutgers WPF.

Youth-friendly healthcare

Specialised, youth-friendly, low threshold sexual healthcare was widely available in the nineteen seventies and eighties in the so-called Dutch ‘Rutgershuizen’. A period of cutbacks of such services followed but, fortunately, the government has considered re-establishment of these services. Recently, the Municipal Health Services granted a national budget of up to 3.5 million Euros annually to make such services available to young people under 25 years of age ('Sense'). One or two 20-minute sessions with a specialised nurse or doctor, supervised by qualified sexologists, are now available to young people for free at various clinics, coordinated by eight appointed Municipal Health Services. In addition, an interactive, demand-oriented website (www.sense.info) specifically tailored to sexuality-related questions and problems of young people has been developed and made available.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) tests, carried out by a general practitioners or in specialised clinics, are mostly paid through basic insurance or free of charge, and may also be obtained anonymously. Municipalities are responsible for additional measures such as adequate prevention, screening, surveillance, and partner notification. Treatment of those infected is covered by basic health insurance. Testing for HIV is free of charge too, and can also be obtained by those without a residence permit and without these test results affecting their residence or asylum procedure. Again, municipalities are responsible for adequate prevention as well as the related healthcare responses for those infected. Monitoring of STI and HIV-related healthcare is carried out by the Healthcare Inspectorate in collaboration with the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM).