Emergency contraception

Emergency Contraception otherwise known as “the morning after pill” is a commonly used method of emergency contraception. It can prevent pregnancy when used after having unprotected sex, or sex where another method of contraception has failed such as a condom breaking or splitting.

Most pharmacies will provide the morning after pill for free if you are under the age of 25, if you are over 25 you will be charged. They will ask you some questions to help them to decide which emergency contraceptive is the right one for you.

You can use the NHS Emergency Contraception finder to help find places in England that offer free prescriptions for the morning after pill and IUDs. You can also order EHC online by clicking here.

Some of these locations may have limited availability or opening hours, and some may only be available to certain age groups such as the under 25s. You should check on their website, or call before going to make sure emergency contraception will be available to you there.

Emergency contraceptive pill


  • Must be taken within three days 72 hours of unprotected sex.
  • The sooner it is taken the more effective.
  • Can be 95% effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within 24 hours
  • If taken between 49 and 72 hours will be 58% effective


  • If taken within 120 hours after having unprotected sex, is almost 98% effective at preventing pregnancy

The emergency contraceptive pill can be found at local pharmacies can be found for free at some NHS walk in centres and some accident and emergency departments.


The IUD is another form of emergency contraception and is a small device fitted in the uterus and is over 99% effective but needs to be fitted within five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex.