Emergency contraception can help prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if another form of contraception has failed.
Emergency contraception typically takes the form of either the emergency contraceptive pill (the ‘morning after pill’) or an intrauterine device (an IUD or coil)
Emergency Contraceptive Pill
The emergency contraceptive pill – often referred to as the ‘morning after pill’ -contains synthetic hormones which stop or delay the release of the egg to avoid pregnancy.
There are two common versions:
- Levonelle should be taken within 3 days of unprotected sex – but the sooner the better. It contains synthetic progesterone.
- ellaOne should be taken within 5 days of unprotected sex – but the sooner the better. It contains a hormone with stops your body’s natural progesterone working normally.
Neither is intended for regular use and you should avoid further unprotected sex whilst they are working.
There are no long term or serious side effects associated with any emergency contraceptive pill. However, they may cause minor headache, stomach pain, nausea (feeling sick) or changes to your next period.
If you taking regular contraceptive pills, you can continue to take them with Levonelle. However, you should wait 5 days if you take ellaOne.
IUD or Coil
An intrauterine device (IUD) is typically a small, T-shaped plastic and copper device that’s inserted into your womb (uterus) by a doctor or nurse.
For emergency contraception, it slowly releases copper which stops the egg from becoming fertilised and attaching to the side of your womb.
When used correctly, it is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy – which is slightly more effective than the emergency contraceptive pill.
IUD’s can be used by most women and side effects are rare.
Depending on your preference, the IUD can be removed once the risk of pregnancy has passed or be retained as your regular contraception.
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