Emergency Contraception Explained

As the mom of teenagers, this is a topic I’ve had to deal with already even though I wasn’t all that keen on it to be honest. Much as they hated it, I sat down with the boys and had a frank discussion about this with them and thought I would share some pointers with you as well!

emergency contraception explained

When you have unprotected sex, regardless of whether it was intentional or not, you may want to act fast to prevent yourself from falling pregnant. Whether you’ve forgotten to use protection, you used it incorrectly or it’s failed to work, help is at hand. To save yourself the worry, read our handy guide to emergency contraception.

What is it?

Emergency contraception can be used as a way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy if you’ve had unprotected sex or your usual contraceptive method has been unsuccessful, such as a condom has split or you’ve missed a pill. There are two forms available: the emergency contraceptive pill, otherwise known as the morning after pill, and the intrauterine device (IUD), which is sometimes called the coil.

How do I use it?

In regards to the emergency contraceptive pill, there are two popular brands – ellaOne and Levonelle. Both pills reduce the risk of pregnancy by preventing or delaying ovulation. The IUD works similarly in that it prevents an egg from implanting in the womb. However, each method differs in terms of when it can be used. For example, Levonelle has to be taken within three days of sex, where ellaOne can be taken within five days. Like ellaOne, the IUD – which is inserted into your uterus by a trained healthcare professional – can be used up to five days after sex. However, the sooner emergency contraception is used after sex, the more effective it will be in preventing an unwanted pregnancy.

How will it affect my body?

Using emergency contraception should not cause any serious or long-term health issues, however it can have some side effects. For example, stomach ache, headache, nausea, tiredness and irregular bleeding before your next period are common symptoms associated with using the morning after pill. Having an IUD fitted should not cause you any complications, however in rare cases it can cause pain, damage to the womb and infection.

Additionally, using either method should not interrupt your usual method of birth control, such as the pill. It’s also important to note that the morning after pill can be used more than once in a menstrual cycle, although it is not intended to be used as a regular form of contraception.

Where can I get it from?

Emergency contraception is available from a number of places, such as your GP or a sexual health clinic. The morning after pill is also accessible from your local chemist or certain online pharmacies.

While you should always try to practice safe sex, this information should give you added peace of mind if you ever find yourself at risk of unwanted pregnancy.

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