Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – what you need to know
Emergency contraceptive pills do not protect against sexually transmitted infections
If you have had unprotected sex you might be at risk of having a sexually transmitted infection. If this is the case, talk to your doctor, or another healthcare professional, about getting tested. They can put your mind at rest, provide treatment and explain how you can avoid passing the infection on to other people with whom you have sex with.
It is also important you take a morning after pill if you have had unprotected sex to ensure you don’t become pregnant.
How emergency contraceptive pills work
Emergency contraceptive pills work to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex by postponing ovulation, if it has not already happened. This means that the sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes will be unable to meet an egg and fertilise it. This is similar to regular contraceptive pills, which also work by preventing egg release.
Emergency contraceptive pills are not 100% effective. There is a chance that you may have already ovulated when you take an emergency contraceptive pill. Taking emergency contraceptive pills as soon as possible after unprotected sex gives you the best chance of success.
The sooner you take emergency contraceptive pills, the better
- Emergency contraceptive pills are not 100% effective.
- ellaOne® is a morning after pill and is still effective even when you are about to ovulate – which is when risk of pregnancy is highest. It is not an abortion pill.
- The sooner you take emergency contraception after unprotected sex, the better the chance of successfully postponing ovulation and avoiding pregnancy.
If you want to have sex after using an emergency contraceptive pill, use a condom even if you are taking a regular contraceptive pill until your next period.
Emergency contraceptive pills will not protect you from pregnancy if you have further unprotected sex
If you want to have sex after using an emergency contraceptive pill, use a barrier method of contraception until your next period.
The different types of emergency contraception
There is a number of different emergency contraception options available:
The intrauterine device (IUD)
The intrauterine device (IUD) which is suitable for emergency contraception is a Copper-T IUD. This is considered the most effective emergency contraceptive method and it also provides an ongoing contraceptive solution. However the IUD fitting takes time and involves an invasive and sometimes uncomfortable procedure.
Copper-T IUD can be fitted up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex . It’s important to note that its use is restricted by its availability and the need to be inserted by a specifically trained healthcare professional, which will require booking an appointment.
Oral emergency contraception
Oral emergency contraception is also known as the emergency contraceptive pill , or more commonly as the “morning after pill.” This is because they are best taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
There are two types of oral emergency contraceptives available from pharmacies – the first type contains clevonorgestrel – the other type contains ulipristal acetate (ellaOne®)
Oral emergency contraceptive pills work by postponing or inhibiting ovulation, so that no egg is released. If it is, and the sperm meets the egg, this is when you can get pregnant.
Available in pharmacies
Oral emergency contraception is available directly from your pharmacist, without a prescription. You can also get emergency contraception from your GP, Family Planning Clinic, walk-in centre, or out of hours services. All oral emergency contraception options consist of one single tablet to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex, or contraceptive failure, such as a split condom. The pharmacist or healthcare professional will be able to advise which option is most suitable for you.
Choosing the right emergency contraception
Emergency contraception may prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. However, for it to be most effective, it has to be used as soon as possible.
If you’ve had unprotected sex within the last five days, and now is not the right time for a baby, you are right to consider emergency contraception, such as the morning after pill, ellaOne®.
Talk to your pharmacist or ask them for details about your emergency contraception options.
Have you had unprotected sex?
- Did the condom slip off or break?
- Did you forget to:
– Take your contraceptive pill?
– Insert your contraceptive ring?
– Apply your contraceptive patch?
- Did your diaphragm or cap slip or did you forget to use it?
- Did he fail to pull out in time?
- Did you forget to use any contraception?
Emergency contraception options
There are two different emergency contraceptive options:
- “Morning after pill” tablet for oral use (ellaOne®)
- Intrauterine device (or coil) to be fitted in the womb