What is Emergency Contraception?
Emergency contraception is commonly referred to as "The morning after pill" or "EHC." If you have had sex without using contraception, or think your contraception might have failed, you can use emergency contraception.
You should access emergency contraception as soon as possible.
Emergency contraception should not be used as a regular method of contraception. More information on the contraceptive choices available to you is listed below.
Where can I get Emergency Contraception?
If you need emergency contraception, it is available from:
- Most Pharmacies
- GP Surgeries
- Sexual Health Services
GPs & Sexual Health Clinics
Emergency contraception is free when accessed via a GP or Sexual Health Service.
Please telephone your GP if you need to access emergency contraception.
Please telephone 0300 300 2016 to access emergency contraception from Sexual Health Services.
Depending on where you live, the availability of free emergency contraception from pharmacies is different:
- Portsmouth: Free to all
- Southampton: Free for those aged under 25
- Isle of Wight: Free to all
- Hampshire: Free to all
If you need to access emergency contraception during Covid-19, you can telephone a pharmacy. The pharmacist will be able to conduct your emergency contraception consultation over the phone. If the pharmacist recommends emergency contraception you (or a representative if you are unable) will need to collect the contraception from the pharmacy.
Due to Covid-19, some pharmacies may have different opening hours, or be closed entirely. Please check directly with the pharmacy for their opening times before attending.
There is no guarantee that a trained pharmacist will be available so we would encourage you to ring ahead to check if a trained pharmacist will be available.
If you do not wish to say out loud in the pharmacy that you need emergency contraception, you can use the image below to show the pharmacy staff.
If the pharmacist is unable to assist please call Sexual Health services on 0300 300 2016.
How soon after sex can I take emergency contraception?
It is really important that you get emergency contraception as soon as possible following unprotected sex, i.e without any contraception - as it works best to stop pregnancy the sooner it is taken. There are three types of emergency contraception:
- The emergency contraceptive pill (Levonelle [levonorgestrel]). You can get this up to 3 days (72 hours) after having unprotected sex. It is available from most pharmacies, your GP and in sexual health clinics. Please ring the pharmacy before going as sometimes trained pharmacists may not be available.
- EllaOne, a newer emergency contraceptive pill can be taken 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. You can get this from our sexual health clinics or your GP. This may also be available free at your local pharmacy in Hampshire (excluding Southampton), Portsmouth & Isle of Wight if a trained pharmacist is available. Alternatively could be available to purchase it over the counter.
- The copper IUD (coil) is a small, flexible contraceptive device that is shaped like the letter T and is inserted into the womb. It can be inserted up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex but may also be used beyond that timescale in certain circumstances. This is available from our sexual health clinics. This is the most effective type of emergency contraception and is effective in over 99% of women. The copper coil can be left in place as a long term form of contraception.
What if it has been over 120 hours?
If it has been more than 120 hours since you had unprotected sex, you should contact us on 0300 300 2016 and arrange a call to discuss your options.
In order to minimise your risk of unplanned pregnancy and need for emergency contraception, you should think about ongoing contraception.
There are several different types of contraception that can prevent an unplanned pregnancy. The Contraception Choices website provides honest information to help weigh up the pros and cons.
Contraception doesn't have to be about remembering to take the pill every day. There are different types of long acting reversible contraception such as the coil (copper or hormonal), the implant and the contraceptive injection. The benefits of these are:
- Easy to fit
- Long lasting
- Over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy
- Fit & forget – one less thing to thing about
Remember: Condoms are the only method of contraception which also prevent transmission of STIs.
If you wish to discuss which contraception is best for you, call us on 0300 300 2016.
Did you know?
If you have had unprotected sex you could be at risk of getting an STI. We would advise taking one of our online tests.