What is emergency contraception?
Emergency contraception can be used if you have had sex without a condom or you think your method of contraception might have failed (e.g. missed some contraceptive pills or had a condom accident). It should not be used instead of your normal method of contraception.
There are two methods of emergency contraception:
- The copper intrauterine device (IUD) is a plastic and copper t-shaped device (also known as ‘the coil’). It is the most effective type of emergency contraception. You can also keep the IUD in long term as your regular method of contraception, preventing you from future pregnancy risk
- The emergency contraceptive pill (the morning after pill). There are two types, called Levonelle and EllaOne
There are no serious side effects of using emergency contraception. And, if you have recently had a baby, you don’t need to use emergency contraception for the first 21 days after giving birth.
We recommend having a pregnancy test three weeks after taking the pill or having the IUD fitted (provided you haven’t had any more pregnancy risks). If this is negative, your emergency contraception has worked.
Who can use the IUD for emergency contraception?
The IUD (coil) can be used by most patients. The nurse will ask you some questions to find out if this method is suitable for you.
It may not be offered if:
- There is a risk you are already pregnant
- You have an untreated STI
- You have any issues with your womb or cervix
- You have unexplained bleeding between periods
- You have an allergy to copper
- It is the most effective method of preventing unwanted pregnancy
- It can be inserted 5 days after sex or 5 days after ovulation
- It is a safe method to use during breast feeding as it will not affect your milk supply
- It will not react with any other medications that you are taking
- You can use the emergency IUD (coil) as emergency contraception, this can be left in and used as your main method of contraception
- If you use the IUD as a regular method of contraception, it can make your periods longer, heavier or more painful
- You may feel some discomfort when the IUD is inserted, but painkillers will help with this
These are rare, but they can include:
- Pain after insertion
- damage to the womb
- the IUD coming out of your womb
- heavier, longer or more painful periods if you continue to use it as a regular method of contraception
Where can I get the IUD?
The IUD (coil) can be fitted at your local sexual health service. Please contact 0300 330 1122 to make an appointment. If your unprotected sex was longer than 5 days ago, please contact your local clinic on 0300 330 1122 to discuss your options.
The emergency contraceptive pill (also known as the morning after pill)
There are two types:
- Levonelle contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic (man-made) version of the natural hormone progesterone produced by the ovaries.
- Levonelle can stop ovulation to prevent pregnancy, if taken within 3 days of unprotected sex.
- Leveonelle does not interfere with your main method of contraception
- EllaOne contains ulipristal acetate, which stops progesterone working normally. This also works by stopping or delaying the release of an egg, if taken within 5 days of unprotected sex.
If your unprotected sex was longer than 5 days ago, please contact your local clinic on 0300 330 1122 to discuss your options.
Where can I get the morning after pill?
If you are 16 and over living with North and North East Lincolnshire, you can order FREE emergency hormonal contraception to be delivered to your home. We have partnered with fellow specialists SH:24 to provide EHC online. If you use this service you will be taken to the SH24 website to place your order. Click on the logo below for more information.
- SH:24 will carry out a online assessment and ensure that this method of emergency contraception is suitable for you.
- SH:24 will dispatch your emergency contraception via 1st class Royal Mail.
- Your order will arrive in discreet packaging and you do not need to be in to receive your order.
If you are under 16 you access emergency contraception by contacting us on 0300 330 1122 Monday – Friday between 9am-5pm.
Outside of these hours, please click here to find pharmacies and services in your area where you can access emergency contraception.
If you’re not using a regular method of contraception, you might consider doing so to protect yourself from an unintended pregnancy.
There are several methods of contraception that protect you for a long period, so you don’t have to think about them once they’re in place, or remember to use or take them every day or every time you have sex.
These methods include the:
You can also book an appointment online here.