Emergency contraception

posted by: Frances Mutter

Did you know that you can still get pregnant even if you took emergency contraception?

Who should take emergency contraception (EC)?

Females who do not wish to conceive should use emergency contraception (or the morning after pill as it used to be called) after unprotected sex that has taken place on any day of a natural menstrual cycle. This is also the case if their regular contraception has been compromised or used incorrectly.

What types of emergency contraception are available?

Tablets
There are two different types of tablets which are designed to stop or delay you releasing an egg (ovulating).

IUD
There is also a Copper IntraUterine Device (IUD) which is the most effective method in preventing against pregnancy (more than 99% effective).
You should always get an emergency contraception tablet even if you are hoping to have the IUD in case the IUD cannot be fitted.

How soon should you get emergency contraception?

As soon as possible!
You should get emergency contraception as soon as you realise there has been a risk of pregnancy. The longer you leave it, the less likely the tablet is going to work and you may not be suitable for an IUD.

Does emergency contraception always work?

There is no absolute guarantee that taking emergency contraception will work.  It depends on where you are in your natural cycle (if you are not taking any hormonal contraception) and the length of time after sex.
If you are about to ovulate, or have just ovulated, then the tablets are not going to work.
It’s important to remember that you can still get pregnant if you have taken emergency contraception tablets and then gone on to have further unprotected sexual intercourse later in the cycle.

You can find advice and guidance on pregnancy and your options here.

How to protect against further risks of pregnancy

We give out the most emergency contraception to people using the “withdrawal method” or incorrectly using a condom.

You can find guidance about how to correctly use a condom here.

The best way to protect against pregnancy is to use a reliable method of contraception. If  you think that you may forget to take a contraceptive pill then you could consider a long acting reversible form of contraception such as the coil or implant. There are lots of choices available and we consider the advantages and disadvantages here.

Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best is not going to prevent a pregnancy.

 

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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

We have implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

Self-requested STI testing by post is available for those aged under 25- more info

We are now running an under 18’s sit and wait clinic at Exeter, Torquay, and Barnstaple for more information click here

Despite any changes made to COVID risk measures outside of NHS premises our staff, patients and visitors will be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules when visiting our clinics, including wearing a face covering. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been requested to self-isolate please do not attend the clinic.

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - from a local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info