This is contraception that can be used after unprotected sex - whether you have not used any contraception at all or whether your normal contraception has failed (a split condom, missed pill etc).
It should not be seen as a regular method of contraception – it is much better to use a reliable method every time you have sex and to be aware of the other risks carried by unprotected sex, such as sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS. To view the range of reliable contraceptive methods available click on contraception.
There are two methods of emergency contraception:
Up to three days: emergency contraceptive pill
Description : also known (incorrectly) as the 'morning after pill', it must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the sooner the better. The pill works by stopping an egg from being released, stopping the sperm from reaching an egg, or preventing a fertilised egg from settling in the uterus.
Availability : free from GPs and family planning clinics. Also available from Marie Stopes International clinics and some pharmacies privately. At Marie Stopes International we offer emergency contraception in advance just in case you ever have an accident. Call us 0845 300 80 90 to find out more.
Effectiveness : 95% within 12 hours after unprotected sex, 54% effective if taken 72 hours after unprotected sex.
Up to five days: intrauterine device (IUD) (Coil)
If you have left it too late for the emergency contraceptive pill then you can still have an IUD, also known as a coil, fitted up to five days after unprotected sex, to prevent pregnancy occurring. The IUD works by stopping an egg from being fertilised or implanted in the uterus and can be left in as a form of regular contraception or removed after a normal period. Effectiveness : 98%-99%. Some of the money from the fees people pay in our UK centres goes towards supporting our work in developing countries. Find about more about our work overseas.
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