Emergency contraception, also known as the morning after pill, is used when other methods of protection for one or more reasons have failed.
For those moments, we provide emergency contraceptive pills that reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy by preventing ovulation.
For more information on birth control, please see Your Birth Control Choices for guidance.
To ensure emergency contraception is as accessible as possible in terms of price, our pharmacy offers Levonorgestrel, which is an Emergency Contraceptive and the generic version of Levonelle.
We also offer morning after pills provided by brands such as Levonelle and ellaOne. In terms of effectiveness, ellaOne has shown to be the more effective morning after pill.
Emergency contraception can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if your alternative form of contraception has failed, such as missing your pill or the condom has broken or split.
There are two forms of emergency contraception; these are the emergency contraceptive pill (usually referred to as the morning after pill) and the IUD (intrauterine device, or coil).
For the pill form, there are two kinds; Levonelle, which is to be taken within 72 hours (three days) of unprotected sex, and ellaOne, which is to be taken within 120 days hours (five days) of unprotected sex.
Both pills work by preventing or delaying ovulation, this keeps the sperm and egg apart, keeping a pregnancy from starting.
The morning after pull is more effective the sooner you use it after sex, so although you have 3 - 5 days to take the pill, it would be better for you to take it as soon as possible if you need it.
For pregnancy to happen, an egg needs to be released from the ovaries (ovulation) and fertilised by a sperm.
The emergency-use pills work by preventing ovulation and therefore hindering fertilisation to take place.
The morning after pill will also prevent fertilisation if ovulation has already occurred or if fertilised, prevent the egg from attaching to the uterus.
A study presented in 2010 demonstrates that out of 1000 women who had unprotected sex within the last 24 hours, 23 out of the 1000 women would get pregnant if they all took Levonelle/levonorgestrel, and 9 out of the 1000 women would get pregnant if they took ellaOne (Glasier A et al. Lancet 2010; 375(9714): 555-62).
With all emergency contraception pills, it is important that it is taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
Using emergency contraception has not been shown to cause any serious or long-term health problems.
However, they can sometimes have side effects such as:
If you notice any side effect, including ones that are not listed above, then you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.
Also, you can report any side effect using the MHRA's Yellow Card Scheme.
NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) advise that doctors, nurses and pharmacists should:
"Ensure arrangements are in place to provide a course of oral emergency contraception in advance, in specific circumstances where the regular contraceptive method being used, for example, condoms or the pill, is subject to 'user failure'."
This means that your local pharmacy or sexual health clinic should always have the morning after pill in stock, just in case you need to use emergency contraception right away.
If you don't have any emergency contraception on hand and you need some right away, you can use the NHS Service Finder to locate a pharmacy or clinic near you. A postal online order will not be fast enough.
As an online pharmacy, here at Chemist 4 U we keep the morning after pill in stock so you can stock up in advance so you won't have to worry about finding a local clinic or pharmacy near to you as soon as possible.
First, don't panic! There are plenty of resources out there that can help you to work out what you want to do next.
This includes your doctor, pharmacist, and local sexual health clinic.
For any questions you may have, bpas (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) offers further advice and support.