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Emergency contraception



If you’ve had vaginal sex without using a condom, or your contraceptive method failed (i.e. you missed a pill or a condom split) you may be able to prevent pregnancy by using emergency contraception within the first five days.

There are two types of emergency contraception: the emergency hormonal contraception (sometimes called the morning after pill or emergency contraceptive pill) and the IUD (intrauterine device - also known as the non-hormonal coil). The method you use depends on your preference and the risk of falling pregnant.

Emergency contraception is most effective if you take it as early as possible.

If you have had unprotected sex or your method failed, you also need to consider STIs. Find out more about STI testing.

WHERE CAN I GET EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION?

Emergency contraception is provided by Brook Cornwall and is free for all ages.

ORDER THE MORNING AFTER PILL ONLINE

If you are 16 or over, you can order emergency hormonal contraception (the "morning after pill") online from SH:24 and receive it directly to your home or another location of your choice.

VISIT BROOK CORNWALL

If you are under 16, want to discuss your options for emergency contraception or think the IUD is your best option, please contact Brook Cornwall as soon as possible on 0300 30 30 714 .

Our service is confidential and non-judgmental. Our friendly staff will help you decide on the best option for you.

When you access emergency contraception from Brook Cornwall, our staff will always discuss and offer an ongoing method of contraception as well as tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

OTHER OPTIONS

Emergency contraception is also available for free at most GP surgeries, NHS walk-in centres and minor injuries units.

You can also access emergency hormonal contraception from a number of pharmacies across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly:

  • If you are 25 or under, many pharmacies that offer emergency hormonal contraception will do so for free. However, some still charge between £14-30. To check, you can call in advance and ask if the pharmacy is signed up to a PGD. If they say yes, hormonal contraception will be free for people 25 and under.
  • If you are over 25, you can buy the emergency contraceptive pill online or purchase it from a pharmacy (usually £14-30)

Questions


How soon after unprotected sex do I need to use emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is most effective if you take it as early as possible, and the method you use will depend on your preference and the risk of falling pregnant.

Your pregnancy risk depends upon where you are in your menstrual cycle. You can work out your risk of pregnancy using this calculator. Make sure you send the result to yourself by text or email so that you can discuss the results with the healthcare professional at the clinic.


Your risk of falling pregnant
  • You are most at risk of falling pregnant when there is sperm in the vagina at the same time that your ovaries release an egg (when you are ovulating).
  • At ovulation, the most effective method of emergency contraception is the IUD, which is 10 times more effective than the morning after pill.
  • In addition, the IUD lasts up to five or ten years depending on the device used and you can have it removed at any time after fitting.

You can use a simple calculator to assess your risk of falling pregnant. Make sure you send the result to yourself by text or email so that you can discuss the results with a healthcare professional.


Emergency contraception options

If you visit a clinic, the nurse or doctor you see will help you assess the best type of emergency contraception for you.

It will depend on your preference and the risk of falling pregnant.

The options are:

  • The IUD: this is the most effective emergency contraception and can be fitted up to 120 hours or 5 days after unprotected sex. The IUD is a small plastic and copper device that is fitted in your uterus (womb) by a specially trained doctor or nurse.
  • The emergency contraceptive pill Levonorgestrel (LNG): this can be taken within 96 hours (four days) of unprotected sex, however it is most effective within the first 72 hours (three days).
  • The emergency contraceptive pill Ulipristal Acetate (UPA), also known as Ellaone: this can be taken within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected sex.

Our staff will always discuss and offer an ongoing method of contraception as well as tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


What if I’m under 16?

All contraception and sexual health services are confidential for everyone, including people under the age of 16. This includes access to emergency contraception.

Health professionals work to strict guidelines and won’t tell anyone else about your visit unless they believe you’re at serious risk of immediate harm.

To find out more about confidentiality, you can contact Brook Cornwall.


What if it's too late for emergency contraception?

If more than five days have passed since unprotected sex, and you think you might be pregnant, you can contact Brook Cornwall for help and advice.

It is possible that the IUD might still work for you - this will depend on when in your cycle unprotected sex occurred and is something our team can discuss with you.

We can also help you with doing a pregnancy test and thinking through your choices if you find out you are pregnant.

If you find out you are pregnant and decide that you want to have an abortion, we can help you access abortion services.

Find out more about pregnancy testing.