From the Brook Advisory Clinic.
If you are planning to have sex, the best way to prevent pregnancy is to use contraception.
There are lots of methods of contraception to choose from and different methods will suit different people. All contraception is free on the NHS in the UK, so you don't need to pay anything for it. If you're not sure which method you want to use, it's a good idea to visit a local clinic and speak to a nurse or doctor.
Emergency contraception can be used to help prevent an unwanted pregnancy up to five days after sex.
It can be used if a contraceptive method fails, for instance a condom splits or a pill is forgotten or taken late, or if no contraception is used. There are three forms of emergency contraception:
This can be taken up to 3 days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.
There is a new emergency contraceptive pill called ellaOne which can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. ellaOne is only available with a prescription, and it's not always easy to get hold of. Most of the information in this section is about the EC pill called Levonelle and the emergency IUD which are the most common forms of emergency contraception. As more places start to offer ellaOne, we'll update this website with information.
The emergency intrauterine device (IUD)
This can be fitted up to 5 days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.
The emergency contraceptive pills Levonelle and ellaOne as well as the emergency IUD do not prevent you from getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you have had unprotected sex, you should think about having an STI test. You can find out how here.
Brook have an online webchat service and a text chat service: 07537 402 024 (standard SMS rates apply). Please also see the Ask Brook Tool here
Emergency contraceptive pill (EC pill, Levonelle)
The emergency contraceptive pill Levonelle is sometimes called the 'morning after pill'. However you can take Levonelle up to 3 days (72 hours) after unprotected sex and not just on the morning after.
The emergency contraceptive pill is more effective the sooner you take it. When you take it within 24 hours of unprotected sex, it is 95% effective at preventing pregnancy. When it's taken between 25-48 hours after unprotected sex it is 85% effective and when it's taken between 49-72 hours after unprotected sex it is 58% effective at preventing pregnancy. So it's important that you get advice on emergency contraception as soon as possible after having unprotected sex.
You can get the emergency contraceptive pill, for free, at any of the following places:
- Brook Centres (for under 25s)
- Young people's services
- Family planning clinics
- GPs (not in Jersey)
- NHS walk-in centres
- Most sexual health/GUM clinics
- Some Accident and emergency departments
- Some pharmacies (not in Jersey)
All these services are free to all, including under 16s.
If you're over 16, you can also buy the EC pill from most pharmacies. It costs around £25.
If you would like to get information on where you can get emergency contraception in your local area you can call the Ask Brook helpline on 0808 802 1234 or click here for service information
If you have other questions about the EC pill, check out our frequently asked questions
Emergency intra-uterine device (IUD)
The IUD is sometimes called the 'coil'. It is a small "T" shaped piece of plastic and copper that is inserted into the vagina, through the cervix and into the uterus. It can be fitted as an emergency contraceptive up to 5 days after unprotected sex. It has to be fitted by a specially trained doctor or nurse so you should check with a service to see if they fit IUDs before going.
The emergency IUD is almost 100% effective at whatever stage it is within the 5 days.
The IUD can be fitted at :
- Most Brook Centres
- Family planning clinics
- Some GPs
It's a good idea to phone the service before you visit, just to check when an IUD trained doctor or nurse will be available. Click here for details of your nearest service, or call Ask Brook on 0808 802 1234. Your call will be confidential. That means we won't tell anyone about it.
If you have an IUD fitted, you can then continue to use it for your regular contraception. Click here for information about using the IUD as your regular form of contraception.