If you had recent unprotected sex and you don't want to be pregnant, you need to act quickly!
If you have had sex without using any contraception, or you think your contraception might have failed, you can use emergency contraception. There are two methods of emergency contraception:
hormonal emergency contraception (known as the emergency contraceptive pill or morning after pill)
the copper intrauterine device (IUD).
Both of these methods are very effective at preventing pregnancy if they are used soon after unprotected sex.
Emergency contraceptive pill
There are two types of emergency contraceptive pill:
Levonelle is the most commonly used. It can be taken up to three days (72 hours) after having unprotected sex, and is available free of charge through the NHS or can be bought from your local pharmacy if you are over 16.
ellaOne is a newer type of emergency contraceptive pill that can be taken up to five days (120 hours) after having unprotected sex. It is only available on prescription.
The effectiveness of the emergency contraceptive pill decreases over time. If it is taken within 24 hours of having unprotected sex, it prevents 95% of pregnancies.
Copper intrauterine device (IUD)
The copper intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, plastic and copper device that can be fitted into your womb by a doctor or nurse within five days of having unprotected sex.
The IUD stops sperm from reaching an egg and fertilising it. It is the most effective method of emergency contraception and prevents up to 99% of pregnancies.
The emergency IUD has to be fitted by a specially trained doctor or nurse. It is best to contact your GP or local contraception/sexual health clinic to find out where is the best place for you to go if you want an emergency IUD.
Getting Emergency Contraception
You can get the emergency contraceptive pill in the following places:-
Some GPs (you do not need to be registered with the GP you visit but it is best to ring first to confirm that they offer it). Click here to find a GP.
NHS Walk in Centres or Minor Injury Units. Click here to find the nearest one to you.
Some Pharmacies or Chemists. If you are aged between 14 and 24 you can get the emergency contraceptive pill at some pharmacies in North Yorkshire free of charge. Click here for a list of pharmacies where this service is available.
It is worth checking that the Pharmacist is available before you go.
Some school and college nurse drop-in services.
If you are over 25 pharmacies will charge for emergency contraception, but it is available free of charge from any NHS provider.