Emergency contraception can be used to help prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex – whether you have not used any contraception or whether your usual method of contraception has failed (split condom, missed pill). Remember with emergency contraception, timing is everything.
It should not be seen as a regular method of contraception. It is much better to use a reliable method every time you have sex and to be aware that unprotected sex carries other risks: sexually transmitted infections and HIV.
If you have had unprotected sex, go to the pharmacy or contact us straight away. Don’t be embarrassed, we see many women for emergency contraception.
What are the options if I have unprotected sex?
There are three options available to women to help prevent unintended pregnancy if they have unprotected sex. These are – the two emergency contraceptive pills (also known, incorrectly, as “The Morning After Pills”) and the emergency contraceptive coil or IUD.
Up to 3 days after sex: The “Morning After Pill”
Also known (incorrectly) as the ‘morning after pill’, the 1500mg levonorgestrel pill is available under the name ‘Prevenelle’ or ‘Norlevo’ and must be taken within 72 hours/3 days after unprotected sex. Within the first 24 hours the emergency contraceptive pill is 95% effective but the longer you leave it, the less effective it will be. Women must take this pill as soon as possible after sex. The pill works either by stopping an egg being released, stopping sperm reaching the egg, or preventing a fertilised egg from settling in your uterus or womb. In the case that you get sick or feel unwell after having taken the pill, contact us immediately. Some women also experience a change in their menstrual pattern, including some irregular bleeding or spotting.
Up to 5 days after sex; The new ‘Morning After Pill’
There is a newer, more effective emergency contraceptive pill available recently. It is made from a hormone called ulipristal acetate. It is sold from the chemist under the name ‘EllaOne’ and is closer to 98% effective, when taken correctly. It is also more reliable than levonorgestrel pills and that extra reliability stays high right up to 120 hours (5 days) after sex. Unfortunately it can only be used for a single episode of unprotected sex in a single cycle and can both interfere with and be undermined by other contraceptives.
Please contact the clinic if you are worried about using the emergency pills.
Up to 5 days: IUD (Copper Coil)
If you have left it too late for one of the pills or if you feel this method is more suitable for you then you can still have an IUD or ‘coil’ fitted up to 5 days after unprotected sex, to prevent pregnancy occurring. It works by stopping an egg from being fertilised or implanted in your uterus (womb) and can be left in as a form of regular contraception, or removed after a normal period.