Emergency contraception

If you’ve had sex without using any contraception, or if you think your contraception might have failed, you might be able to use emergency contraception. You will have to act fast to prevent getting pregnant and remember to also take a chlamydia test.

There are two types of emergency contraception:

Emergency Contraception Pills (also called ‘the morning after pill’). You need to start taking the pill no more than 3 days (72 hours) from when you had unprotected sex. It’s effectiveness increases if you start taking it within the first 24 hours.
The Emergency Contraceptive Pill, EllaOne, can be taken up to five days (120 hours) after sex, it is only available with a prescription.
An Emergency IUD, can be fitted up to five days after sex, or up to five days after the earliest time you have released an egg (ovulation). Ask your doctor about getting emergency pills in advance, just in case.

Emergency contraception is mainly prescribed by a doctor but can sometimes be given out by a nurse or pharmacist by prior agreement with the doctor. It’s free for women of any age (including under 16s) from:

Any GP providing contraceptive services (not just your own).
Community Contraception Clinics (family planning clinics).
Some hospital Accident and Emergency Departments.
Some sexual health (GUM) clinics.
From some pharmacies. Some pharmacies provide free emergency contraception to women of all ages, including under 16s. You can buy it from most pharmacies if you are 16 or over.