These are also known as the 'morning after pill'.
Emergency contraception pills are around 85% effective in preventing an unintended pregnancy. They work by delaying when your ovaries release an egg (ovulation).
They are best taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex, ideally within 24 hours.
There are two options available:
- Levonorgestrel, which can be taken up to 3 days after unprotected sex.
- Ulipristal acetate (sold as EllaOne), which can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. Ulipristal acetate is more effective than levonorgestrel.
Both options are available from most pharmacies without a prescription.
If you have unprotected sex again, you may need another dose.
Only Levonorgestrel is safe to take when breastfeeding.
Last 10 years
The Copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception if inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex.
The Copper IUDs is a small, T-shaped contraceptive device inserted into the uterus (womb). It does not contain hormones.
It constantly releases a small amount of copper into the uterus, and can last up to 10 years.
You can buy a copper IUD at the pharmacy, with a prescription. The IUD is inserted inside your uterus by a trained doctor or nurse.
It has a fine nylon thread attached to it, which you can feel high up inside your vagina.
Your period can become heavier initially and then settle with time.
It is safe to use while breastfeeding.
It is not affected by other medications.