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.