Emergency contraception

Did you forget to use contraception? Did the condom split? Don't panic, we have plenty of advice.

What is emergency contraception?

If you have had sex without using contraception, or a condom has split or come off, emergency contraception could help prevent pregnancy (not STIs). You may also need it if you have missed a pill or are late for a contraceptive injection. But you need to act fast! 

When should I take emergency contraception?

Up to 5 days or 120 hours after having unprotected sex.  It works better the sooner you take it, so get help quickly.  The quicker you take it the less likely you are to get pregnant.

There are many, very effective contraception options you can choose from to make sure you are always protected – see our contraception page (add link here) and talk to a nurse or doctor about what contraception is right for you.

Remember, there may still be a risk of STIs so it's a good idea to get checked too.

Who can take it or get it?

Only females can get emergency contraception — the best thing for men to do is to use a condom correctly every time they have sex. 

Types of emergency contraception

Emergency Intrauterine device (IUD) 

An intrauterine device (IUD), also known as the coil is a device the size of a matchstick that is inserted into the womb to prevent pregnancy. It’s up to 99.9% effective and can be fitted up to 5 days after having unprotected sex, and sometimes even later than that depending on when your last period was. The IUD can then be used as your regular method of contraception for between 5-10 years.  If you don’t want to do this for some reason, then it can be removed during or after your next period.

Emergency oral hormonal contraceptives 

EllaOne

EllaOne is a pill that can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex. It’s up to 95% effective. It will not protect you against more unprotected sex.

  • Women of all ages can get these free from our sexual health clinics, including Shine sessions
  • free at the urgent care centre 
  • free from some pharmacies. Ages may vary depending on the pharmacy so it's best to check first. 
  • free at your GP. 
  • You can buy these at pharmacies for around £30 (if they are not provided for free). 

Levonelle 

Levonelle (also known as the “morning-after pill”) can be taken up to three days (72 hours) after unprotected sex. It’s up to 95% effective within 24 hours after sex, and only 56% effective if taken between 48-72 hours after sex. It will not protect you against more unprotected sex. It may be the better choice if you are taking hormonal contraception, or want to start this straight away.