Emergency contraception is contraception you can use after unprotected sex. There are two different methods of contraception which are suitable for emergency contraception.

The most commonly used emergency contraceptive is the morning after pill.

This can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies, Superdrug offer a prescription following an on-line consultation and health professionals can prescribe this from your own GP surgery.

Alternatively, we can fit a contraceptive coil at SPCL or you can contact the Royal South Hants hospital (0300 300 2016) to have one fitted. Some intrauterine devices are suitable for emergency contraception if fitted within 120 hours after an episode of unprotected sex.

There are two different tablets which can be used as the emergency contraceptive, these are levonelle and EllaOne.  They contain chemicals which mimic the natural hormone progesterone. It essentially tricks the body into thinking that is has already ovulated so no further eggs are released. It also changes the lining of the womb so any fertilised egg cannot implant into it.

EllaOne which is effective until 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. Using additional contraceptives can reduce the effectiveness of this pill so if within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse levonelle will be issued instead.

Levonelle is effective until 3 days (72 hours) after unprotected sex.

The copper coil is the most effective emergency contraceptive and this can be inserted either through ourselves or at sexual health clinics.

Please note weight of more than 85kg (13 stone) or BMI above 30 could reduce the ability of the emergency pill to prevent pregnancy. In these cases the copper coil would be a better option.

How to take the morning after pill?

Take as a single dose as soon after unprotected sex as possible, swallow it whole with water rather than chewing it.

It can give you a headache, stomach ache or make you feel sick. If you are sick within 2 hours of taking levonelle or 3 hours of ElleOne you will need to take another dose or consider having a coil fitted.

Please be aware taking the morning after pill could make your next period earlier or later, should it be more than 7 days late a home pregnancy test is advised.