Emergency Contraceptive

Emergency contraception or the Morning After Pill

If you've had unprotected sex or think your contraception might have failed, you can use emergency contraception. 

There are different types of emergency contraception:

  • Emergency copper IUD- 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 
    • Levonorgestrel 

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

About the emergency copper IUD

The emergency copper IUD is the most effective method of emergency contraception and can usually be fitted up to 5 afters after an episode of unprotected sex.  A member of our team can assess your suitability for this and arrange an appointment for fitting if appropriate.  If you think you might not be able to attend a clinic straight away it is a good idea to take an emergency pill whilst you are waiting.

You can read more about the copper IUD here 

About emergency contraceptive pills

  • Levonorgestrel 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.  You can use emergency contraception more than once in a menstrual cycle if necessary.

Emergency contraception pills are not intended to be used as a regular method of contraception and you may wish to consider what you could use as a longer term method instead (link).

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. Comment – is this true or do we often redirect them to pharmacies?

If you would like an emergency copper IUD, you can:

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.

More information

Visit NHS Choices - Emergency contraception