If your condom broke, or came off, while you were having sex, you may need to take emergency contraception (including what's often called the 'morning after pill') to reduce the risk of pregnancy. This will be the case if you are not using another method of contraception correctly. It's important to take emergency contraception as soon as possible, so try and get advice from a sexual health clinic or Brook service (if you are under 25) or your GP as soon as you can. You can also get emergency contraception from some pharmacies.
You may also have been at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), as fluids could have come into contact with your genitals so it would be a good idea to speak with a doctor or nurse at one of the above services or your local sexual health clinic about getting tested.
Find out what's involved in visiting a service such as Brook, including where to go for emergency contraception and STI testing if there isn't a Brook near you.
Common mistakes which can lead to the condom breaking include: not checking the condom packet for damage, not checking the expiry date, putting the condom on too late, the wrong way round or incorrectly, and taking the condom off too soon. Also using oil-based lubricants with latex condoms (such as Vaseline or moisturiser) can damage the latex. Read more about the common mistakes.
If you’ve had sex without using contraception – you can usually prevent pregnancy by using emergency contraception (including what's often called the 'morning after pill') if you act fast.
You will also need to find out about STIs and getting tested, and remember that some STIs can have no symptoms so it is important to get tested.
It’s also important to think about why you didn’t use a condom. It could have been a one off and you got carried away, or do you often not use them? Is it you or your partner who doesn’t like using condoms, and how can you talk to them about it? Either way you only need to have sex once to get an STI and condoms are the only method of contraception that protect against STIs as well as pregnancy so it’s important to use them every time you have sex. Read more about condom excuses. Some couples, who are only having sex with each other and who have had tests and know they’re free from STIs, may decide to stop using condoms and just use another method to prevent pregnancy. Explore our section which covers all 15 methods of contraception.
The answer to this question will depend on the type of pill you are using and how many pills you have missed.
One pill missed:
If you have missed one pill, or if you have started the new pack one day late:
Two or more pills missed:
If you have missed two or more pills or if you have started the new pack two or more days late:
If seven or more pills are left in the pack after the missed pill:
If fewer than seven pills are left in the pack after the missed pill:
The information above does not apply to the combined pill Qlaira. If you use this pill you should contact the doctor or nurse who prescribed it if you are not sure how to take it or read the manufacturer's instructions.
If you are more than three hours late (or 12 hours late if you are taking POPs containing the hormone desogestrel):
If you are less than three hours late (or 12 hours late if you are taking POPs containing the hormone desogestrel):
Read our section on tips for remembering to take your pill
If you are taking an oral method of contraception (such as the combined pill or the progestogen only pill) these can be affected by vomiting or diarrhoea depending on whether they have had time to be absorbed by the stomach.
If you vomit within two hours of taking either type of pill this will not have had time to be absorbed by the stomach. You should take another pill straight away, and as long as you are not sick again you will still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill at the usual time.
If you have very severe vomiting or diarrhoea that lasts more than 24 hours you will need to follow the instructions above for missed pills. Each day you are ill is classed as a missed pill day - you should still continue to take your pill each day if you can, but you will need to use an additional method of contraception such as condoms. If you have had sex in the previous seven days, you may need emergency contraception. Find out more about how to get emergency contraception (including what's often called the 'morning after pill').
If you are using any other method of contraception such as condoms, internal or female condoms, the injection, patch, implant, IUD, IUS, vaginal ring, diaphragm or cap - these will not be affected by vomiting or diarrhoea as they do not rely on the hormones being absorbed by the stomach.
If you are using the contraceptive patch, this should stay on as it is very sticky. However, if falls off, what you need to do next depends on how long it has been off for and how many days you were wearing the previous patch for before it fell off.
If you have forgotten to change your contraceptive patch, what you need to do depends on where you are in the four-week patch cycle, and how long you have forgotten to take the patch off or put a new one on for.
After week one or two:
After week three:
After the patch-free week:
The contraceptive vaginal ring is held in place by the muscles of your vagina, but sometimes occasionally it may come out (this is known as ‘expulsion’). What you need to do depends on how long the ring has been out for, and where you are in your ring-cycle.
Less than three hours:
More than three hours in the first or second week of use:
More than three hours in the third week of use:
Throw the ring away and either:
In either case you will need to use additional contraception (such as condoms) until the contraceptive vaginal ring has been in place for seven days. You may also need emergency contraception if you have had sex in the previous few days and will need to speak to your doctor or nurse.
If you lose the vaginal ring, insert a new one and continue with the cycle that you were on.
If you forget to take the contraceptive vaginal ring out:
If you forget to take the contraceptive vaginal ring out after it has been in for 21 days, what you need to do depends on how much extra time the ring has been in for.
If the ring has been left in for up to seven days after the end of week three (up to four weeks in total), remove the ring as soon as you remember. Don’t put in another ring, but start your seven day ring-free interval. Insert the new ring after the seven day interval and start your new cycle. You don’t need to use any additional contraception and you will be protected from pregnancy.
If the ring has been left in for more than seven days after the end of week three (more than four weeks), remove the ring and insert a new ring as soon as you remember. You will need to use additional contraception such as condoms until the new ring has been in place for seven days. You may also need to use emergency contraception if you have had sex in the previous few days and will need to speak to your doctor or nurse.
If you forget to put a new contraceptive vaginal ring in:
If the ring-free interval was 48 hours longer than it should have been, insert a new ring as soon as you remember and use an additional method of contraception, like condoms, for seven days. You may also need to use emergency contraception if you have had sex in the previous few days and should speak to your doctor or nurse.
If you’ve had sex without using contraception in the last five days, or you think your contraception may have failed don’t panic – you can usually prevent pregnancy by using emergency contraception if you act quickly.
There are two types of emergency contraception: the emergency contraceptive (EC) pill (also often called the 'morning after pill') and the intrauterine device (IUD).
The emergency contraceptive (EC) pill - often called the 'morning after pill'
The intrauterine device (IUD)
Remember, emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can read our section about STIs and getting tested, and remember that some STIs can have no symptoms so it is important to get tested.
If you need to speak to someone to can visit Brook.
If you need help when Ask Brook is closed, you can contact:
Page last reviewed: November 2015
Next review due: November 2017