Emergency contraception (or the morning after pill)

Sometimes a person has had unprotected sex and is worried they may be pregnant. Or the condom may have broken or fallen off during sex. A girl may be more than 24 hours late in taking the pill.

The emergency contraceptive pill (or the morning after pill) is a hormone pill that can be taken up to three days (up to 72 hours) after having unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. The sooner it is taken the more effective it is. Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - so both partners need to have an STI test.

Emergency contraception can be taken if:

  • You didn't use any contraception.
  • You forgot to take the contraceptive pill.
  • You had vomiting or diarrhoea or had to go on antibiotics, which can make the pill ineffective.
  • You didn't use a condom.
  • The condom broke or came off.
  • You have been sexually assaulted.

The hormones in the pill help to prevent fertilisation of a female's egg, by delaying ovulation or preventing a fertilised egg from implanting in the womb. The hormones may make her feel sick on the day, but after that there are no long-term effects on the body. If you vomit after taking the pill, see a doctor or health care worker straightaway.

Emergency contraception is the most effective if taken within 24 hours of sexual intercourse. There is a 1 - 3% risk of becoming pregnant after taking emergency contraception. It is most likely to fail if any of the following situations occur:

  • You are already pregnant.
  • You vomit within two hours of taking the pills.
  • You have unprotected sex after taking the pills.

It's highly recommended to see your doctor or sexual health clinic three weeks after taking the pill to make sure that it has worked properly.

Get it from chemists, your doctor or sexual health clinic.

Other types of contraception

Abstinence Implanon® (implant)
Condoms (female) Intrauterine device (IUD)
Condoms (male) Non-penetrative sex
Contraceptive pills NuvaRing®
Depo Provera® (injections) Spermicides
Emergency contraception Withdrawal

You may also be interested in....

  • emergency contraception (or the morning after pill)

    The emergency contraceptive pill (or the morning after pill) is a hormone pill that can be taken up to three days (up to 72 hours) after having unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. How it works, cost, where to get it.

    Read More »
  • Types of contraception

    Types of contraception. Common and less common types of contraception for young people.

    Read More »
  • Condoms & Contraception

    Protecting yourself and your partner against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy. How do I protect myself. What if the contraceptive fails. Importance of condoms and lubricant.

    Read More »
  • Contraceptive pills

    Two types of contraceptive pills – the combined pill and the progestogen-only pill (also called the ‘mini-pill’). How it works, advantages, disadvantages, cost, where to get it.

    Read More »



_MG_9994.jpg
_MG_9433.jpg
_MG_9146.jpg
_MG_9822.jpg
_MG_9449.jpg
_MG_9153.jpg
_MG_9859.jpg
_MG_9432.jpg
_MG_9861.jpg
_MG_9576.jpg
_MG_9952.jpg
_MG_9223.jpg
_MG_0207.jpg
_MG_9658.jpg
_MG_9224.jpg
_MG_0213.jpg
_MG_9770.jpg
_MG_9225.jpg
_MG_9783.jpg
_MG_9311.jpg