Emergency contraception

If you’ve had sex without using contraception, or you think your contraception may have failed for some reason (like, if the condom broke or you forgot to take your pill, or you vomited after talking your pill) don’t panic – you can usually prevent pregnancy by using emergency contraception if you act fast.

There are three forms of emergency contraception:

If you choose to use the emergency contraceptive pill, you need to take it as soon as possible after you’ve had sex. This is important because the sooner you take it the more likely it is to work.

The emergency contraceptive pill isn’t the same thing as the ‘abortion pill’. The emergency contraceptive pill prevents a pregnancy from happening. The ‘abortion pill’ ends a pregnancy that’s already started.

There are two types of emergency contraceptive pill: Levonelle, which must be taken within three days (72 hours) of unprotected sex, and ellaOne, which must be taken within five days (120 hours) of unprotected sex. Both pills are more effective the sooner they’re taken after unprotected sex.

Levonelle is available free from sexual health clinics, with a prescription from a pharmacy, or to buy from a pharmacy. ellaOne is available free from sexual health clinics, or with a prescription from a pharmacy


Levonelle is most effective when taken within 12 hours of unprotected sex, but it can be used up to 72 hours after:

In the first 24 hours it is 95% effective at preventing pregnancy. When it's taken between 25-48 hours after unprotected sex it is 85% effective and when it's taken between 49-72 hours after unprotected sex it is 58% effective at preventing pregnancy. So it's important that you get advice on emergency contraception as soon as possible after having unprotected sex.


ellaOne is most effective if it’s taken as soon as possible after having unprotected sex. If you take ellaOne within five days (120 hours) of having unprotected sex, it is almost 98% effective.

You can get the emergency contraceptive pill, for free, at any of the following places:

  • Brook services (for under 25s)
  • Young people's services
  • Family planning clinics
  • GPs (not in Jersey)
  • NHS walk-in centres
  • Most sexual health/GUM clinics
  • Some accident and emergency departments
  • Some pharmacies (not in Jersey)

All these services are free to all, including under 16s.

If you're over 16, you can also buy the Levonelle EC pill from most pharmacies. It costs around £25.
If you would like to get information on where you can get emergency contraception in your local area you can contact Ask Brook on 0808 802 1234 or click here for service information . Ask Brook offers a free, confidential helpline, interactive text and webchat services.

If you have other questions about the EC pill, check out our frequently asked questions.


Alternatively, you can have the copper intrauterine device (IUD) fitted. The IUD is a small device that is fitted in your uterus (womb) by a specially trained doctor or nurse. It is over 99% effective, but it needs to be fitted within five days (120 hours) of unprotected sex or up to five days after the earliest time you could have released an egg (ovulated).

The IUD can be fitted at:

• Most Brook services
• Family planning clinics and GUM services
• Some GPs

It's always a good idea to phone a service before you visit, just to check when an IUD trained doctor or nurse will be available. Click here for details of your nearest service, or call Ask Brook on 0808 802 1234. Your call will be confidential.

If you have an IUD fitted, you can then continue to use it for your regular contraception. Click here for information about using the IUD as your regular form of contraception.

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