Your second chance
You forgot the pill, the condom broke, your diaphragm wasn't placed properly, you got your non-fertile days wrong – there are a plenty of reasons things might not go to plan with your preferred method of contraception. That's what emergency contraception is for.
Types of Emergency Contraception
Emergency Contraceptive Pill
Often called 'the morning after pill’ it is a pill that is designed to prevent pregnancy. There are 2 types of emergency contraceptive pill both of which can be purchased direct from a pharmacy without a prescription.
The 3-day Pill
The 3-day emergency contraceptive pill contains the hormone progestogen. It works by preventing or delaying your body from ovulating or releasing an egg, thereby preventing an egg and sperm fertilising.
It should be taken as soon as possible and within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex. It is important to remember that the sooner you take it the better it will work.
The 5-day Pill
The 5-day emergency contraceptive pill contains ulipristal. It works by preventing or delaying your body from ovulating or releasing an egg, thereby preventing an egg and sperm fertilising.
It should be taken as soon as possible and within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex. It is important to remember that the sooner you take it the better it will work.
The Copper Coil
A long-acting method of contraception that does not include hormones, the copper coil or intrauterine device (IUD) uses copper which is toxic to sperm and stops the fertilised egg from attaching to the womb. If inserted less than 5 days after unprotected sex, it can be effective as an emergency contraceptive. You can then keep wearing it for up to 5 to 10 years to prevent unintended pregnancy.
Speak to a healthcare professional
If you have any concerns or questions about emergency contraception, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional. If you did not intend to have unprotected sex, for example if the condom broke, it might also be a good idea to ask them for a Sexually transmitted infection (STI) test.
ALTERNATIVE CONTRACEPTION METHODS
The emergency contraceptive pill is not a form of contraception and so it shouldn't be taken regularly. If you find yourself needing them more than once, you may need to consider longer-acting contraceptives that will meet your needs.
THE HORMONAL COIL
The Hormonal Coil is a small, soft T-shaped plastic frame that releases low levels of a progestogen hormone for up to 3 - 5 years. It is given with a prescription and placed in your womb by a doctor or nurse.
THE COPPER COIL
The Copper Coil is a small, T-shaped plastic frame that has a copper wire. It is available with a prescription and placed in your womb by a doctor or nurse, where it prevents pregnancy for up to 5 - 10 years.
THE CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT
A small, flexible silicone rod that releases hormones for up to 3 years. It is given with a prescription and placed under the skin of your upper arm by a doctor or nurse.
THE CONTRACEPTIVE INJECTION
An injection containing a hormone that is given with a prescription and administered by a doctor or nurse every 12-13 weeks.
NEED ADVICE? SPEAK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL
Speak to a healthcare professional for advice and support on your contraceptive needs.