If a woman finds herself in a situation where she has had unprotected sex, in order to minimize the chances of becoming pregnant, emergency contraception may be required. It could be that the condom split or a pill was missed for example.
There are two methods of emergency contraception available:
- The copper intrauterine device (IUD)
- The emergency contraceptive pill (the morning-after pill)
Read more about the types of emergency contraception available here.
How long do you have?
Emergency contraception is more effective the sooner it is administered. In summary you have up to 5 days for the IUD and up to 72-120 hours for the morning after pill.
Click here to read more about timeframes and the rates of success of the emergency contraception in preventing pregnancy.
A summary of the success rates found during a WHO (World Health Organisation) study is as follows (Reference www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk, February 2016):
- 95% of expected pregnancies when taken within 24 hours of sex
- 85% if taken within 25–48 hours
- 58% if taken within 49–72 hours
Where do you get emergency contraception?
The IUD can be fitted at:
- Contraception/sexual health clinics
- Some young persons’ clinics and Brook advisory centers
- GP surgeries
The morning after pill is available FREE from:
- Some pharmacies
- Any contraception/sexual health clinics /GUM clinic
- Your GP
- Some A&E departments
Find sexual health services in your area for more help by clicking here.
Word from our GP
“Emergency contraception can be extremely affective but you do have to be aware of the time frames.”
Things to remember
Act quickly, highest success rates are seen when treatment is administered within 24 hours of having unprotected sex.
Emergency contraception is available free of charge but you can also get it for around £25.