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EMCEmergency Contraception

You can use emergency contraception if:

  • You have had sex and didn’t use contraception
  • If the condom split or came off during sex
  • If you have forgotten to take your pill or taken it incorrectly 

If you act quickly emergency contraception will usually prevent a pregnancy.

There are two methods of emergency contraception:

  • A tablet known as emergency hormonal contraception. There are 2 types of tablet - Levonelle (works within 3 days (72 hours) after sex), or Ella One (Works within 5 days (120 hours) after sex). Both are more effective the sooner you take it.
  • The emergency IUD (also known as the copper coil), can be used up to 5 days (120 hours) after sex and is the most effective. After this, the IUD will protect you from pregnancy up to 5 – 10 years.

Where can I get emergency contraception from?

If you are under 25 you can get free emergency contraception pills from the following places:

  • Sexual Health Services and Brook Clinics
  • Your GP or a Savvy Kernow approved doctor (register as an emergency patient)
  • NHS Minor Injury Departments
  • NHS Accident and Emergency
  • NHS Walk-in Centres
  • NHS Pharmacies

You can get the emergency IUD (cooper coil) from most sexual health clinics, but you should ring first to check that a doctor or nurse who is trained to fit one is available.

If you are over 25 you can still access the emergency contraceptive pill on prescription from your Doctor or Sexual Health Service. Or you can purchase the emergency contraceptive pill from your pharmacist at a cost of around £25. To find a list of pharmacies available to prescribe emergency contraception click here.

Too late for emergency contraception? Remember, it is worth speaking to a doctor or nurse at any of the Sexual Health Services about emergency contraception, however long it has been after unprotected sex.

If you have had unprotected sex you will also want to access the Sexual Health Services to be tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections.