I often find that people are surprised when I talk candidly about it

Illustrated portrait of a woman.

Written by: Georgina, 25

I have taken the morning after pill twice and I often find that people are surprised when I talk candidly about it. To some, it’s an admission of guilt, that you messed up, that you were ‘irresponsible’. To me, this makes no sense. Irresponsibility is the lack of response, of assertive action. No one feels irresponsible asking for cough medicine or plasters.

The first time I took it, my biggest concern was catching a flight in three hours. I bounded into the chemist. My boyfriend agreed that he would split the cost with me, as it had been a joint endeavour. The pharmacist took me into a room that was basically a cupboard, asked me some basic questions, and then suggested I take the morning after pill. I was given the pill and away I went. I remember reading the small book that came with it on the train station platform, revealing that the exact science was unclear but seemed to work significantly often when taken correctly. Whatever science it was, I was grateful.

The second time the main struggle was parking somewhere near the 24hr pharmacy, this time boyfriend in tow. This time I had fallen asleep without taking my pill. I remember being slightly more apprehensive, as the chemist was smaller and even a discreet request was clearly going to be heard by all. I pepped myself up with my ‘you-are-a-responsible-woman’ chat and asked anyway. On this occasion I was also asked about my drug usage, STIs and expanding on what had happened. I swallowed it and thanked the pharmacist.

Both of my experiences have been that of relief, of a bullet dodged, of a reset button pressed. Both incidents happened while in a long-term relationship which may have reduced judgement in those who I interacted with. I have spoken candidly of my experience to others, not only to reduce stigma about this form of contraception, but also to reduce fear and myths around it, so that more women see it as an option they can take if their normal contraception has failed for whatever reason, and not as a personal failing.

ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Always read the label.