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Emergency contraception facts

Posted by Be Well

Forgot to take your contraceptive pill? Condom split? Had unprotected sex? If this sounds familiar then you're probably thinking about what to do next.

The thought of emergency contraception can often be daunting if you're worried, so here are all your queries answered.

Get all the facts...
Emergency contraception myths...

Get all the facts...

What types of emergency contraception are there?

The emergency pill (morning after pill) and the copper IUD (coil).

Do I have to use it the morning after I've had unprotected sex?

The emergency pill (morning after pill) can be taken up to three days afterwards. But the sooner you take it, the more likely it is to work.

The copper IUD can be fitted up to five days after sex.

Does the emergency pill work every time?

The emergency pill prevents 90% of pregnancies if it's taken within 24 hours of sex. Although, the chance of it working reduces the later it is taken.

Does the copper IUD work every time?

The copper IUD has an almost 100% success rate - and it can prevent pregnancy if it's fitted up to five days after sex.

Does the emergency pill have any side effects?

The emergency pill can sometimes make you vomit (be sick). If this happens within a few hours of taking the pill, you may need to take another one, or have a copper IUD fitted to prevent pregnancy.

Does the copper IUD have any side effects?

If you choose to keep it fitted as a form of contraception, you might have heavier and more painful periods. However, you can have it removed during your next period.

You should not have a copper IUD fitted if you have an allergy to copper.

Will using emergency contraception stop me getting an STD (sexually transmitted disease)?

No, emergency contraception only prevents pregnancy. The only way to protect yourself from STDs is to use a condom.

Where can I get emergency contraception?

You can get emergency contraception from:

  • doctor practices
  • contraception clinics
  • a young person's clinic,
  • STD clinics,
  • some pharmacies, and
  • some hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments.

Emergency contraception myths...

Still unsure when it comes to emergency contraception? Get the facts to some of the most common emergency contraception myths.

If I take the emergency contraceptive pill (morning after pill) it will also protect me against STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)

False - only barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, will protect you against STDs. The emergency contraceptive pill only ensures that you don't fall pregnant.

I can take the emergency contraceptive pill a week after having unprotected sex

False - the emergency contraceptive pill has to be taken as soon as possible after you've had unprotected sex. It can be taken up to three days after, but the sooner it is taken the more likely it is to work.

The copper IUD can be fitted up to five days after sex.

A friend can get the emergency contraceptive pill for me

False - you are the only one who can get the emergency contraception for yourself. You won't be able to ask a friend or relative to get it for you. This is because a healthcare professional will need to see you.

The emergency contraceptive pill will prevent a pregnancy next time I have sex

False - you will have to use another type of contraception, such as condoms or the contraceptive pill, if you plan to have sex.

The emergency pill only works up to three days after you have had unprotected sex. After this time you are not protected against pregnancy.

I will be made to have an HIV test if I visit a STD clinic

False - it is standard practice for a doctor or nurse to recommend you have a blood test for HIV. However, this is only a precaution. It's important to remember that they are there to help answer any question you may have related to sexual health and contraception.

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