MORNING AFTER PILL
Anyone with a womb who has had unprotected penis in vagina (PIV) sex, or PIV sex where the contraception has failed. Can be used by people who can’t use hormonal contraception, e.g the combined pill or contraceptive patch.
One pill, taken retroactively after unprotected PIV sex, which is designed to prevent pregnancy. Called the emergency contraceptive pill, the “morning after” pill or “Plan B”. There are two types: Levonelle and ellaOne.
The emergency contraceptive pill can prevent pregnancy after unprotected PIV sex, or if the contraception you used failed, e.g. a missed pill or split condom.
You need to be take the emergency contraceptive pill within three days (Levonelle) or five days (ellaOne) of unprotected PIV sex. If you vomit within two hours (Levonelle) or three hours (ellaOne) you must go to your GP, pharmacist or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic to take another dose.
The earlier you take the pill the more effective it is. It may give you a headache, tummy pain, or feel (or be) sick, and can also make your next period earlier, later or more painful than usual.
There are no serious side effects to taking the emergency contraceptive pill, and it does not cause an abortion.
It doesn’t continue to protect you against pregnancy after you have taken it, and it is not supposed to be used as a regular form of contraception. It can be taken more than once in a menstrual cycle, if necessary.
An effective method of emergency contraception in order to prevent pregnancy.
Does not have any severe side effects but some people may have conflicting allergies, medical conditions or take medicines that affect the effectiveness of the pill.
In the UK, you can get emergency contraception for free, even if you are under 16, from contraception clinics, sexual health and GUM clinics, some GP surgeries and young people’s clinics, most NHS walk-in centres and minor injuries units, most pharmacies and some A&E departments - phone first to check.
If you are 16 or over, you can also purchase it from most pharmacies - in person or online - and from some organisations such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Marie Stopes, for around £25-£35.
You can get the emergency contraceptive pill in advance if you are worried about your contraception failing, are going on holiday or can’t get hold of emergency contraception easily. You will need to see a GP or nurse for further advice for this.
real life experiences
"I have taken the morning after pill twice in my life, both times within a month of each other whilst I was at uni. The process could not have been easier. I walked into the pharmacist and said what I needed - I was really nervous and a little bit embarrassed thinking that other people might hear - but there’s no shame in it, and you won’t be the first person to ask them (you’re probably not even the first person that day!). I then waited until the pharmacist was free and we went into a small consulting room. He asked me questions about when the sex occurred, whether protection was used, was I on any other form of contraception, and advised me about any side effects. He then handed me the pill and a glass of water, I took it in front of him and left. The whole consultation took less than five minutes. I went to work that evening and can’t remember experiencing any side effects. There’s a lot of misplaced shame around taking emergency contraception, but there needn’t be - mistakes happen and it’s there for that very reason. My one piece of advice would be to always go in person for your own contraception. Lots of organisations ask you to take the pill in front of them, and it is useful to have a discussion with a medical professional so you know where you stand." Alex, she/her