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Emergency contraceptive

If you've had unprotected sex or think your contraception might have failed, you can use emergency contraception. Emergency contraception can be very effective, but it’s not as effective as using other methods of contraception regularly.

There are different types of emergency contraception:

  • emergency intrauterine device (IUD or emergency coil) - this is the most effective
  • emergency contraceptive pill - the sooner after sex you use this the more effective it will be. There are two types in the UK:
    • Ulipristal acetate (UPA) - ellaOne is currently the only brand available in the UK
    • Levonorgestrel - different brands are available

Emergency contraception does not cause an abortion or protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

About the emergency IUD/coil

An emergency IUD/coil can be fitted up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex or within 5 days of the earliest time you could’ve released an egg. The IUD/coil is the most effective method of emergency contraception. If it can’t be fitted immediately you may be advised to take an emergency contraceptive pill. 

About emergency contraceptive pills

  • Levonelle has to be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of sex
  • ellaOne has to be taken within 120 hours (5 days) of sex

Both work by preventing or delaying ovulation (release of an egg).

There are no serious side effects of using emergency contraception. Emergency contraceptive pills are not intended to be used as a regular form of contraception. However, you can use emergency contraception more than once in a menstrual cycle if necessary.

Where you can get emergency contraception from

Our partner pharmacies provide free emergency contraception pills. Please phone ahead to check there is a somebody on duty who can help you.  

All of our appointment and walk-in and wait clinics provide emergency contraceptive pills.

If you would like an emergency IUD you will need to see one of our specialist nurses/doctors by registering for one of our daily emergency appointment slots at any of our clinics. 

Aged 19 or under?

Brook Wirral run clinics 5 days a week (Monday - Friday).   

Other places you can get emergency contraception:

You can also get the emergency contraceptive pill from your GP, NHS Walk-in centre and Minor Injuries Centres.

You can also buy emergency contraception pills from your local pharmacy.

More information

Visit NHS Choices - Emergency contraception


Last updated: 01/11/2023