Emergency contraception is contraception that can be used after unprotected sex to reduce your chances of getting pregnant.

It is important to access emergency contraception as soon as possible after unprotected sex and ideally within 3 days (72 hours) to maximise effectiveness. However, options are available until at least 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex and occasionally longer depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.

The main types of emergency contraception are:

  • Emergency hormonal contraception, also known as the “morning after pill”
  • Copper intra-uterine device (IUD) – this can also be used as ongoing contraception and is the most effective method of emergency contraception. See our Copper intra-uterine device (IUD) patient leaflet (PDF, 34KB) for more details.

You may require emergency contraception because:

  • You had sex without using contraception
  • You used a condom but are worried it split / came off
  • You are using contraceptive pills / patch but are worried you have not been using these properly
  • You are late getting your Depo Provera injection (14 weeks or more since last injection)
  • You have an IUD/IUS/implant but the recommended renewal date has passed
  • You had an IUD/IUS but it may have fallen out or you can’t feel the threads

If you are not sure whether you need emergency contraception, it is best to seek advice as soon as possible by attending one of our clinics. We have special emergency coil appointments throughout the week at our Oxford (Churchill) clinic, and sometimes at the East Oxford (Rectory Centre) clinic.

Emergency hormonal contraception is also available from your GP, your local pharmacy and some school health nurses.