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Emergency Contraception

First things first

Emergency contraception can be used if a contraceptive method fails (for instance a condom splits or a pill is forgotten or taken late) or no contraception at all is used. There are two forms of emergency contraception - the emergency contraceptive pill and the emergency intrauterine device (IUD).

Emergency contraception pill (Morning after pill)

This form of emergency contraception consists of one pill containing a special dose of the hormone progestogen. Emergency contraceptive pills can be used up to 72 hours (three days) after sex.

You will be given one pill which should be taken as soon as possible after having unprotected sex, and no later than 72 hours after.

There is also another emergency contraceptive pill that can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after sex. The nurse or doctor you see will decide which pill is more suitable.

The emergency contraceptive pill can work in several ways. They may stop ovulation (release of an egg), they may stop an egg from being fertilised or they may stop a fertilised egg from implanting in the womb.

Emergency contraception is more effective the sooner after sex it is taken. If the pill is taken within 24 hours after sex they will prevent 95 out of 100 pregnancies. If taken 72 hours after sex the pills will prevent 58 out of 100 pregnancies. Because emergency contraception is more effective the sooner after sex the pill is taken, it is important that you seek emergency contraceptive advice as quickly as possible.

Emergency contraception is available free from: