Emergency contraception (also known as the morning after pill) is a way of preventing pregnancy if you have had unprotected sex or if there is a problem with your usual method of contraception i.e. you have missed a pill or a condom split.
There are 2 types of emergency contraception:
1) Hormonal emergency contraception (levonelle2 or levonelle–one-step). This is generally known as the emergency pill.
2) Copper-containing intra-uterine device (IUD).
Most women including breastfeeding mothers can use the emergency pill but if you are taking a drug which is a liver enzyme inducing drug, (such as some antiepileptics, antiTB drugs and some antivirals), or StJohns Wort, it may not be suitable and you may either need to take a higher dose or you may need to use the copper IUD. You can speak to a doctor or your pharmacist if you are unsure if this is the right option for you.
You can get emergency contraception from your GP, contraception clinics, GUM clinics, NHS walk-in-centres and most hospital accident and emergency departments. You can also buy the hormonal emergency contraceptive pill from some pharmacies, if you are over 16, for around £26.
The Emergency contraception pill does not protect you for the rest of your cycle and you should make an appointment to talk about your future contraception needs with a health professional. You should also seek advice if your next period is more than 7 days late, unusual in any way or if you get any unexpected pain or if you are worried that you may have a sexually transmitted infection.
An IUD is an intrauterine device made of plastic and/or copper that is inserted into the womb. One type releases a hormone (progesterone), and is replaced each year. The second type is made of copper and can be left in place for five years. Although usually used as a standard contraceptive, it can also work as an emergency contraceptive too.
Generally doctors prefer to only fit IUDs for women who have already given birth once and there are other reasons you may not be suitable such as; if you have had an abnormal smear, if you have STDs, if you have severe pain with periods. You can speak to a doctor or your pharmacist if you are unsure if you are suitable for this method.
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