What is Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC)?
EHC is a method of contraception which may be used if a chosen form of contraception has failed or after unprotected sex. It should not be used as a regular means of contraception. Although referred as 'the morning after pill' in newspapers and magazines, this can be misleading since it can be taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex for prevention of pregnancy. EHC should be started as soon as possible after unprotected sex or other contraceptive failure. EHC uses a medicine called Levonorgestrel (a progesterone hormone), it functions by preventing a fertilised egg implanting in the lining of the uterus (womb) or by preventing ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries), or by preventing an egg being fertilised.
Where you can obtain EHC
EHC can be supplied on your prescription free of charge by Your GP, local family planning clinic or NHS walk-in centre. in the presence of an authorised pharmacist, EHC can be provided free of charge by some pharmacies. Alternatively, most pharmacies can supply EHC to purchase if you are over 16 years old (usually at a cost of £26). You will need to personally visit whoever is supplying EHC as it will be necessary for you to answer some questions to ensure that it is safe to use the medicine.
Important points to remember
* EHC should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex or contraception failure
* EHC should be taken no later than 72 hours after unprotected sex or contraception failure. If more than 72 hours have elapsed you must consult a doctor for advice on alternative methods of contraception
* EHC is not suitable for all people and you will need to have a consultation with a GP or pharmacist before it can be issued to you
* Only certain pharmacies can provide emergency contraception free of charge – speak to your pharmacist to find out if they are able to do so
* If you are under 16 you must speak to a doctor or pharmacist for advice
* For more information click here or visit NHS Direct
If you need general advice on contraception ask to speak to your pharmacist next time you visit your pharmacy.