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Emergency Contraception

What is emergency contraception
If you have had sex without using contraception, or you think your contraception may have failed, you may be able to use emergency contraception. If you act quickly, this can usually prevent pregnancy.

There are two types of emergency contraception:

Emergency contraception pills. These must be started within 3 days (72 hours) from the time you had sex. (These pills may be referred to as ‘morning after’ pills, but this is misleading as they are effective up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. They are very effective if taken within the first 24 hours.)
Emergency IUD which can be fitted up to 5 days from the time you had sex. Once it has been fitted you can keep it as a regular method of contraception.
Where to get emergency contraception
Emergency contraception can only be prescribed by a doctor but can sometimes be given out by a nurse by prior agreement with the doctor. It can not be bought from pharmacies but is available from any GP providing contraceptive services (not just your own), family planning clinics, youth advisory services such as Brook Centres, some hospital Accident and Emergency Departments and some Genito-Urinary Medicine Clinics.

Confidentiality
Every consultation with your doctor or nurse is private and they will not tell anyone else about it without your permission. Some GP practices will supply you with a ´Confidentiality Card´ which you can hand to the receptionist if you prefer not to explain what has happened.

Side effects
Emergency contraception pills can be used by almost all women, even those for whom regular contraceptive pills are unsuitable. A doctor or nurse will be able to advise you. Some people feel sick after taking the pills but this is less likely if they are taken with food. Over 95% of women who take emergency contraceptive pills do not become pregnant. If a pregnancy results, the pills have not been shown to harm the baby.

The emergency IUD is almost 100% effective, but not suitable for all women. A doctor or nurse will be able to advise you on its suitability for you.

Emergency only
Emergency contraceptive pills are not intended for regular use. If you do not want to become pregnant, you should always use regular contraception when you have sex.


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