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Emergency Contraception

By Dr Felicity Dent
Specialised Women’s Health General Practitioner

Editor’s note: This article focuses on emergency contraception. Eleanor Clinic offers advice on all forms of contraception and family planning, including Implanon, Copper IUD and Marina insertion. Please make an appointment with your Eleanor Clinic GP to discuss the most suitable option for you.

Emergency contraception, often called “the morning after pill”, is commonly used to prevent a woman becoming pregnant after unprotected sex.

But did you know that emergency contraception comes in different types?

Fast facts about emergency contraception:

  • 85-99% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy
  • Does not protect against STI’s
  • Is available as 2 different sorts of single use pill and also as the copper IUD
  • If you choose the copper IUD you will have ongoing contraceptive cover for 5-10 years
  • Works best if used as soon as possible after unprotected sex, preferably within 24 hours, butcan be used for up to 5 days

The emergency contraceptive pill is available in 2 types, both available over the counter from pharmacies at relatively low cost. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you decide which is best for you. It works by preventing or delaying the ovaries releasing an egg, and it is around 85% effective at preventing pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex again after taking emergency contraception you may need another dose.

Side effects from the emergency contraceptive pill are generally mild and might include: a change in your next period, nausea, headaches, bloating and tender breasts.

REMEMBER: if your period is very light or more than 7 days late, take a pregnancy test.

The emergency copper IUD is the most effective way of preventing unwanted pregnancy after unprotected sex – it is 99% effective if used within 5 days. It also has the benefit of providing ongoing contraception for 5-10 years. An IUD is a small device that is inserted into the uterus by a trained professional, and it works by affecting sperm movement and making fertilisation of the egg unlikely.

In general copper IUDs can make future periods heavier and increase cramping, but there are other things to consider before making a decision – have a discussion with your doctor about whether an IUD is suitable for you.

We are generally able to insert copper IUDs at short notice at Eleanor Clinic.
Please contact our reception staff and let them know what you need.

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