Getting hold of emergency contraception

Emergency contraception

If you’ve had sex without contraception or think your method might’ve failed, you can use emergency contraception. You can use emergency contraception up to 5 days after unprotected sex but try and get it as soon as possible. 

Emergency contraception can be used after unprotected sex (especially not using a condom) and may be able to limit the effect of any STIs on long-term health and also reduce the chance of a pregnancy occurring following the encounter.



How does it work?

Types of emergency contraception

There are two types of emergency contraception:

  • The emergency contraceptive pill (the morning after pill)
  • The intrauterine device (IUD)
Where you can get emergency contraception 

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The IUD must be fitted by a specially trained doctor or nurse. You can get the IUD and the emergency contraceptive pill from a range of services.

You can get emergency contraception free from these places, but they may not all fit the IUD.

  • Any general practice that provides contraceptive services.
  • Any contraception clinic.
  • Any young person's service or Brook clinic.
  • Any sexual health clinic.
  • Some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics.

You can also get emergency pills free from these places, but they may not all be able to supply pills with ulipristal acetate.

  • Most NHS walk-in centres (in England only)
  • Many pharmacies. This depends where you live and there may be age restrictions.
  • Most NHS minor injuries units
  • Some hospital accident and emergency departments (phone first to check).

You can buy both types of emergency pill from:

  • Most pharmacies. You'll need to be 16 years old or over to buy levonorgestrel pills.
  • Some fee-paying clinics.


When Sarah thinks she might be pregnant, she turns to Sally for support.

Video credit: Sexwise