Sometimes accidents happen and so emergency contraception is something we all need to know about. However the emergency pill, or morning after pill, cannot be used as a regular method of protection against pregnancy and is normally only used by women after a condom has split, if they have forgotten one of their pills, or if they haven't used any protection whatsoever.
Caroline says: “Don’t be frightened of the emergency contraceptive pills, they’re really low in side-effects and you can use them as often as you need. However it is not advisable to have more than one during one cycle.”
There are two types of emergency contraception available on the market, Levonelle which can be used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex and ellaOne which can be used up to 120hours after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation.
You can also be fitted with the IUD up to five days after un-protected sex to stop sperm reaching an egg and this is the most effective form of emergency contraception, preventing 99% of pregnancies.
A little known fact is that emergency contraception pill can be taken by women who are breast-feeding and by those who cannot use combined hormonal methods. But the effectiveness of emergency contraception decreases the longer you leave it, so if you've had a problem, get your hands on them sooner rather than later.
Some pharmacies can give you these over the counter for free, but in most places like Boots you will have to pay around £30. If you go to your local sexual health clinic you can usually get them for free, plus if a condom splits it is always worth talking to a health professional about the possible risks and maybe scheduling in a quick STI check too.
It is also worth saying that although these are incredibly useful, emergency contraception should not be relied upon as your only method of contraception!
- It is the only option left after all other methods fail.
- It can be expensive.
- Side effects include stomach pain, headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting or irregular menstrual bleeding.
- It does not always work.
- If you vomit within two hours of taking the morning after pill it will not work and you will need to see your GP.