Emergency Contraception

If you have had unprotected sex or think your contraceptive method has not worked and you are worried that you might get pregnant, you can get emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) which can prevent a pregnancy. EHC works by delaying ovulation, therefore you will be asked details about your menstrual cycle to confirm that ovulation hasn't already occurred. EHC is sometimes called the ‘morning after pill’ as it is more effective the sooner you take it, so act fast.

ellaOne and Levonelle packaging

There are three different types of emergency contraception:

  • emergenency hormonal contraception Levonelle is one pill taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex

  • emergency hormonal contraception EllaOne is one pill taken within 120 hours of having unprotected sex

  • the emergency intrauterine device (copper IUD) can be fitted in your uterus up to 120 hours after unprotected sex or within five days of the earliest time you could have released an egg

Emergency contraception can be very effective so the sooner you see someone to discuss your options the better.

To access Emergency Contraception you can make an appointment at one of our Sexual Health clinics or visit your GP.  If you are 25 or under, you can access emergency contraception tablets from pharmacies for free in Nottingham City and County. If you are over 25 you can buy it over the counter.

A health professional will talk to you about your medical history, menstrual cycle and any side effects. They may also refer you for STI testing and further discussion about future contraception options.


How will I know if my emergency contraception has worked?

It is unlikely that you will be pregnant, but if you do experience any of the following it is best to do a pregnancy test:

  • you  have any signs of pregnancy
  • you have not had a normal period within three weeks of taking Levonelle, EllaOne or having the emergency IUD inserted
  • you do not have a bleed when you have the seven-day break from using the combined pill, contraceptive patch or the contraceptive vaginal ring, or when you take the placebo tablets with EveryDay combined pills

A pregnancy test will be accurate if the test is done three weeks after the last time you had unprotected sex.


Am I protected from future pregnancy?

IUD illustration If you have been fitted with an emergeny IUD this is effective contraception that can remain in place for up to 10 years.

Levonelle and EllaOne will not protect you from pregnancy if you have unprotected sex again. Book an appointment to seek advice on contraceptive methods to explore options going forward.   

Emergency contraception is not as effective as using other methods of contraception regularly.

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