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Emergency contraception

Providing pregnancy prevention after unprotected sex

A short-term pregnancy prevention method

If you've had unprotected sex or think your contraception hasn't worked properly you could be pregnant.

If you've had unprotected sex in the last 5 days and don't want to be pregnant, you can use emergency contraception.

Important emergency contraception fact: You should take emergency contraception as soon as possible after unprotected sex to prevent getting pregnant, as it only works up to 5 days after unprotected sex. If you've had unprotected sex more than 5 days ago, and/or you are late for your period, you will need to take a pregnancy test.


Intrauterine device (IUD): Over 99% when taken within 5 days of unprotected sex.

Emergency contraceptive pill: Up to 85% when taken within 5 days of unprotected sex.



Emergency contraception types

There are two kinds of emergency contraception available to reduce the risk of an unplanned pregnancy - the IUD and the emergency contraceptive pill.

Intrauterine device (IUD)

An IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraceptive. If inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex, it can prevent up to 99.9% of unplanned pregnancy. It's also an effective, long-acting reversible contraceptive and can be left in for 5 or 10 years depending on which type is used.

Emergency contraceptive pill

The emergency contraceptive pill, also known as the 'morning after pill', can be used to reduce the risk of an unplanned pregnancy and can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. 

Looking for more information about emergency contraception?

Try visiting our frequently asked questions.

When should I use emergency contraception?

You should use emergency contraception in these situations:

  • After unprotected sex
  • The condom split or came off
  • Missing pills while taking the oral contraceptive pill
  • Being sick or having diarrhoea while taking the oral contraceptive pill
  • Being late for your repeat contraceptive injectable
  • Forgetting to use a form of contraception
  • Not being able to feel your IUD threads
  • Taking medicines which reduce the effectiveness of hormonal contraception
  • Following sexual assault or rape.

Does emergency contraception protect me against STIs?

No. Emergency contraception only reduces the chance of you getting pregnant, and won't protect you against STIs.

The best way to reduce your risk of STIs is by having safe sex - using barrier methods such as male condoms and female condoms.

If you've had unprotected sex you should get tested for STIs. We can test you for STIs and arrange emergency contraception for you.

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    Find a suitable method for you

    If you are starting to use contraception for the first time, or looking to change methods, it is a good idea to have a consultation.