Protection against STIs
Emergency contraceptive pills do not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
If you have had unprotected sex you might be at risk of having caught a sexually transmitted infection. If this might be the case, talk to your doctor, or another healthcare professional, about getting tested. They can put your mind at rest, provide treatment and explain how you can avoid passing the infection on to other people with whom you have sex.
How does the morning after pill work?
Emergency contraceptive pills, like ellaOne®, work by inhibiting or delaying ovulation.
They work to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex by postponing ovulation if it has not already happened. This means the sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes will be unable to meet an egg and fertilise it. This is similar to regular contraceptive pills, which also work by preventing egg release.
Emergency contraceptive pills are not 100% effective. This is because there is a chance that you may have already ovulated when you take an emergency contraceptive pill. Taking emergency contraceptive pills as soon as possible after unprotected sex gives the best chance of success.
The sooner you take emergency contraceptive pills, the better·
- Emergency contraceptive pills are not 100% effective
- ellaOne® is still effective when risk of pregnancy is highest
- The sooner after unprotected sex you take emergency contraception, the better the chance of successfully postponing ovulation and avoiding pregnancy.
- Emergency contraceptive pills will not protect you from pregnancy if you have further unprotected sex.
If you want to have sex after using an emergency contraceptive pill, use a barrier method of contraception until your next period.
Types of emergency contraception
There are two main types of emergency contraception:
- The intrauterine device (IUD) also known as the coil
- Oral emergency contraception also known as the morning after pill
The intrauterine device (IUD)
The intrauterine device (IUD) or coil, which is suitable for emergency contraception, is a Copper-T IUD
Copper-T IUD is considered the most effective emergency contraceptive method and it provides an ongoing contraceptive solution. However, the IUD fitting takes time and involves an invasive and sometimes uncomfortable procedure.
Copper-T IUD can be fitted up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex. However, its use is restricted by its availability and the need to be inserted by a specifically trained healthcare professional.
Oral emergency contraception (EC pills)
Emergency contraceptive pills are also called “morning after pills”, because it is best to take them as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
There are two types of oral emergency contraceptives available from the pharmacy
- One containing levonorgestrel
- One containing ulipristal acetate (ellaOne®)
The mechanism of action of oral emergency contraception is to postpone or inhibit ovulation, so that no egg is released.
Oral emergency contraception is available directly from your pharmacist without a prescription. You can also get emergency contraception from your GP or Family Planning Clinic.
Both oral emergency contraception options consist of a single tablet to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex, or contraceptive failure. You should talk to a pharmacist or other healthcare professional to find the most appropriate option for you.
Is emergency contraception right for me?
Choosing the right emergency contraception
Emergency contraception may prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, but it must be used as soon as possible.
If you’ve had unprotected sex within the last five days, and it is not the right time in your life to have a baby, you are right to consider emergency contraception, such as the morning after pill, ellaOne®
Have you had unprotected sex?
- Did the condom slip off or break?
- Did you forget to:
– Take your contraceptive pill?
– Insert your contraceptive ring?
– Apply your contraceptive patch?
- Did your diaphragm or cap slip or did you forget to use it?
- Did he fail to pull out in time?
- Did you forget to use any contraception?
Your emergency contraception options
In Europe, there are two different emergency contraceptive options:
- ‘Morning after pill’ tablet for oral use (ellaOne®)
- Intrauterine device (or coil) to be fitted in the womb