What are your choices for emergency contraception?

You may need to access emergency contraception if you have had unprotected sex or experienced a failure in your contraception, such as missed pills or a split condom.

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The Emergency Contraceptive Pill

There are two different types of emergency contraceptive pill: Levonelle and ellaOne. Both can be very effective if they are taken shortly after having unprotected sex. Levonelle contains progestogen and should be taken within 72 hours, and ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate and should be taken within 120 hours.

Most women will be able to take the emergency contraceptive pill. However, you will be asked about your medical history and the dose may need to be altered if you are also currently taking other medication. There are no serious long-term side effects, but in the short term, some women may experience sickness, abdominal pain or a painful next period.

The Emergency IUD

An emergency IUD is a small device made from copper and plastic fitted into the uterus up to 120 hours following unprotected sexual intercourse. It will typically take around 20 minutes to be fitted, and you may feel some discomfort during the procedure. There is a slight risk of infection and some women may experience light bleeding or pain similar to period pain, but it is highly effective with the benefits outweighing the risks. If you are unable to have the IUD fitted immediately, you will be offered the emergency contraceptive pill as an alternative.

You will be advised to see a doctor a few weeks after fitting to check you aren’t pregnant and to discuss whether you would like to have it removed. As this NHS article explains, you may continue to use the IUD as your main contraceptive method moving forward or arrange to have it removed between three and four weeks after it has been fitted.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Following unprotected sex, accessing STI testing in London is also recommended. An STI testing kit, such as https://www.checkurself.org.uk/order-a-test-kit/ or even https://www.bexleysexualhealth.org/ will ensure you can access treatment if you have contracted an infection and help you to prevent passing the infection on.

If you need to access emergency contraception or wish to discuss your options with a health care professional, visit your GP, pharmacy, GUM clinic, NHS walk-in centre, or your local sexual health information clinic.

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