Time really matters.
Visit a sexual health clinic or pharmacy within 5 days of unprotected sex.
Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy if taken as soon as possible or within 5 days of having unprotected sex (sex without a condom or contraception). If you have had unprotected penis in vagina sex (sex without using a condom or contraception) you can get emergency contraception.
The sooner you get it the more likely it will stop you getting pregnant.
These services are free and confidential.
Get emergency contraception free from:
A nurse, doctor or pharmacy worker can tell you what is available and help you decide what is best for you. Your discussion and treatment is confidential.
If these services are closed, you can contact NHS 24 for information.
What types of emergency contraception are available?
There are three types of emergency contraception.
Two are small pills (hormonal contraception) which you swallow, the third is a small, plastic, T- shaped device that sits inside the uterus (womb) called the copper IUD.
1. Levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pill (eg Levonelle®)
This pill called Levonelle® can be taken up to 3 days after unprotected penis in vagina sex. It can stop you getting pregnant. It has more chance of working if you take it as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
It is available free from any pharmacy in Edinburgh and the Lothians and from sexual health clinics.
2. EllaOne emergency contraceptive pill
EllaOne can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected penis in vagina sex. Taking EllaOne reduces the risk of getting pregnant. It should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex to have the best chance of working. EllaOne is available free from most pharmacies in Lothian and from sexual health clinics.
A nurse, doctor or pharmacy worker can tell you what is available and help you decide what is best for you.
3. The copper coil (intra-uterine device, or IUD)
The IUD is a small coil made of copper which a doctor or nurse puts in through the vagina and sits in the womb.
The copper coil is the most effective emergency contraception. This means it is the most likely to stop you getting pregnant if it is put into your up to womb 5 days (or sometimes longer) after unprotected penis in vagina sex.
A doctor or nurse will fit your IUD. You cannot feel it once it is in place. It can be removed (by a doctor or nurse) after your next period, or you can keep it in as ongoing contraception. While you keep it in it will stop you getting pregnant. You can get an IUD at a sexual health clinic and some GP practices.
This below video tells you more about the cooper coil and how it is fitted.
This video tells you more about the cooper coil and how it is fitted. You can also find a transcript of the video to read here.
Credit: This video is intended for use by NHS Lothian only and footage is not to be used, in full or part, or reproduced without permission from NHS Lothian.