Emergency Contraception

If you’ve had unprotected sex, that is, sex without using contraception, or think your contraception might have failed, you can use emergency contraception.

There are different types of emergency contraception:

  • The emergency intrauterine device (IUD).
  • An emergency contraceptive pill with the active ingredient ulipristal acetate (UPA). ellaOne is currently the only brand available in the UK.
  • An emergency contraceptive pill with the hormone levonorgestrel. There are different brands.

Emergency contraception can be very effective, but it’s not as effective as using other methods of contraception regularly.

Where can I get emergency contraception?

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

  • Call the surgery as soon as possible if you think you need emergency contraception.
  • 111 can help in the evenings or weekends
  • Any contraception clinic.
  • Any young person’s service or Brook clinic.
  • Any sexual health clinic.
  • Some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics.
  • You also can buy both types of emergency pill from: Most pharmacies. You’ll need to be 16 years old or

How do I buy emergency contraceptive pills from a pharmacist?

You can buy both types of emergency pill from most pharmacies. It will cost around £16-£30. The pharmacist may not be able to sell it to you, for example if:

  • it has been more than 3–5 days (72-120) hours since you had unprotected sex
  • you think you might already be pregnant
  • you’re taking certain prescribed or complementary medicines
  • you have certain health conditions.