In an ideal world you would plan which effective method of contraception to use before it is required, and condoms would never fail.
Unfortunately, in the real world, emergency contraception is sometimes needed.
Emergency contraception (also known as “the morning after pill”) is available from the pharmacist free of charge and confidentially*. It is more effective if it is taken as soon as possible, but is effective taken up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex.
*The pharmacist will explain to you that everything you discuss will be confidential UNLESS the pharmacist is worried about your safety, in which case they have a legal and ethical obligation to tell someone.
Information from the NHS Choices website:
A trial undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that levonorgestrel (the drug in Levonelle) prevented:
95% of expected pregnancies when taken within 24 hours of sex
85% if taken within 25–48 hours
58% if taken within 49–72 hours
More recent studies suggest that the prevention rate might be lower, but still substantial.
A study published in 2010 showed that of 1,696 women who received the emergency pill within 72 hours of sex, 37 became pregnant (1,659 did not). Of 203 women who took the emergency pill between 72 and 120 hours after unprotected sex, there were three pregnancies.
The pharmacy also provides information and advice (in a no-nagging, no-lecturing style) about:
- effective contraception
- sexually transmitted diseases
- supply of free condoms
- making appointments for you with a GP
Brand leader and “value” pregnancy tests are stocked.