Emergency contraception is a safe and effective means to prevent pregnancy when you have had unprotected sex or something has gone wrong with your usual method of contraception. No contraceptive method is 100% effective and few couples can use their method perfectly every time they have sex. Most women can use the emergency contraceptive pill, including women who are breastfeeding and those who cannot usually use hormonal contraception (such as the combined pill or contraceptive patch).
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. This medicine will not always prevent a pregnancy. If you do become pregnant after taking this medicine there is a possibility that the pregnancy will be ectopic.
- 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 most common side effects with ellaOne are headache, nausea (feeling sick) and abdominal pain (stomach ache).
In recent times, there has been a backlash against the term ‘morning after pill’ because some people, particularly in medical circles, think the name implies that the pill can be used casually, repeatedly even, by women who don’t make an effort to protect themselves before sex takes place. Doctors and pharmacists are aware, however, that there are many reasons why a woman might need emergency contraception – so you should never fear that you’ll be judged if you need to take the emergency contraceptive pill.
You can order a supply of the emergency contraceptive pill in advance of need anywhere in the UK. If you want to plan for the future by keeping a supply of the morning after pill ready for when you may need it, you can purchase without the need to see a doctor face to face.