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Contraception Infographic

Emergency contraception - Just in Case

Emergency contraception is used when other methods of protection (for more information on birth control, please see Your Birth Control Choices for guidance) for one or more reasons have failed. For those moments, we provide emergency contraceptive pills that reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy. These pills work by preventing ovulation.

To ensure emergency contraceptive 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 emergency contraception provided by brands such as Levonelle and ellaOne. In terms of effectiveness, ellaOne has shown to be the more effective emergency contraceptive pill (- Glasier A et al. Lancet 2010; 375(9714): 555-62).

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'."
To read the full guide, please click the image above. Note: if emergency contraception is required for immediate use, please use the NHS Service Finder to locate a pharmacy or clinic near you. A postal online order will not be fast enough.

Please note the generic brand received may vary, but will always be a UK licensed medication.

Emergency Contraception

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.

How Does Emergency Contraception Work?

For pregnancy to happen, an egg needs to be released from the ovaires (ovulation) and fertilised by a sperm. The emergency-use pills work by preventing ovulation and therefore hindering fertilisation to take place.
How Effective Is The Emergency Contraception Pill? A study presented in 2010 demonstrates that out of 1000 women who had unprotected sex within the last 24 hours 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.
Are there any side effects? 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:
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Headaches
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding before your next period is due
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling tired
  • If it's been longer than 120 hours (5 days) since unprotected sex? For any questions you may have, bpas (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) offers further advise and support.