If you’ve had unprotected sex, or you had a problem with your contraception, you can reduce your chances of becoming pregnant with emergency contraception.

You can take emergency contraception pills (also known as morning after pills) or have a non-hormonal coil (IUD) fitted.

For either of these methods to be effective, you have to use them within a certain number of days after your pregnancy risk.

If you’re not sure which to choose, read more about the different methods before you decide.

What you need to know about emergency contraception

There are 2 main methods of emergency contraception: pills and the non-hormonal coil (IUD). There’s a pill that works if you take it within 3 days (72 hours) of pregnancy risk and one that works if taken within 5 days (120 hours) of pregnancy risk.

You can have a non-hormonal coil fitted up to 5 days after unprotected sex or up to 5 days after your earliest predicted date of ovulation.

Which emergency contraception should I choose?

There are a few things to consider if you’re choosing between a pill or the coil. The coil is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. This is more effective than emergency contraceptive pills, which prevent 50-66% of pregnancies.

How do emergency contraceptive pills work?

Emergency contraception pills delay ovulation, so an egg is released a few days later than normal. Delaying the release of the egg reduces the chance of pregnancy.

If an egg has already been released, then the emergency contraceptive pills will have no effect. This is why it’s important to take the morning after pill as soon as possible after your pregnancy risk.

The IUD as emergency contraception

The non-hormonal coil works by causing mild irritation in the womb. This stops sperm and eggs from surviving and prevents a fertilised egg from implanting.

This coil, also called the copper coil or IUD, is most effective because it stops fertilisation and implantation of a fertilised egg in the womb, so it can be used after you’ve ovulated and an egg has been released.

To have the coil fitted urgently, find your nearest clinic.

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