What is it?
Emergency contraception is used following unprotected sexual intercourse or contraception failure (e.g. burst condom, missed pills etc.) to help prevent pregnancy. There are 2 types to choose from – hormone tablets and coils.
There are two main types of emergency contraception:
Coils (Intra-Uterine Devices)
Intrauterine devices are small plastic T-shaped devices containing copper which are inserted into the womb. They can be used up to 120 hours after unprotected sex or later depending on the timing in the menstrual cycle. They are the most effective method of emergency contraception and can also provide on-going contraception.
Hormonal / Emergency Pills
There are now 2 different emergency contraceptive pills available.
The first is a progestogen-only pill containing levonorgestrel (eg levonelle or upostelle) which is taken as a single tablet up to 120 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse. It is more effective if taken within 96 hours.
The second pill is a synthetic progestogen pill containing ulipristal acetate (eg ella-One). It is also a single tablet which is currently only used between 72 and 120 hours after sex when it is felt to be more effective than levonorgestrel.
Where can I get emergency contraception?
- Your GP
- Out of Hours
- Sexual Health clinics
- C2U drop-in clinics
- Emergency Departments
- All pharmacies (if you are age 13 years or older)
Coils can be fitted either at Sexual Health (phone 0345 702 3687) or through some GP practices (see list below).
Where can I get an emergency coil (IUD) inserted?
You can either self refer to the Sexual Health Services (03457023687) or check below to see if your GP or a nearby practice can do it.
ANNANDALE & ESKDALE
ANNAN NORTH SURGERY
(Greencroft Medical Centre (N), Greencroft Wynd, Annan, DG12 6GN)
Tel: 01461 202745
LOCHTHORN MEDICAL CENTRE
(Edinburgh Road, Dumfries, DG1 1TR)
Tel: 01387 259944
SANQUHAR HEALTH CENTRE
(Upper Nithsdale Group Practice, Health Centre, Station Road, Sanquhar, DG4 6BT)
Tel: 01659 50221
CAIRNSMORE MEDICAL PRACTICE
(Health Centre, Creebridge, Newton Stewart, DG8 6NR)
Tel: 01671 403609
NEWTON STEWART SURGERY & THE MERRICK PRACTICE
Tel: 01671 830206 (Newton Stewart)
Tel: 01671 402168 (Kirkcowan)
LOCHREE PRACTICE (3 days per week)
(Waverley medical Centre, Dalrymple Street, Stranraer, DG9 7DW)
Tel: 01776 707814
(Piggery Road, Sandhead, Wigtownshire, DG9 9DP)
Tel: 01776 830262
Frequently Asked Questions
How does emergency contraception work?
Pills prevent ovulation and fertilisation by altering the transport of the sperm and/or ova. They also bring about changes and discourage implantation of the egg in the lining of the womb.
A copper intrauterine device will prevent a fertilised egg from implanting into the uterus
How effective is emergency contraception?
Levonorgestrel is over 86% effective up to 96 hours.
Ulipristal (ella-One) - Studies suggest it more effective than levonorgestrel with a consistently low failure up to 120 hrs.
A copper intrauterine device is over 99% effective.
Where can I get hormonal emergency contraception?
- Any GP practice.
- Any Sexual Health Clinic
- Any C2U Clinic
- Emergency departments (Dumfries Infirmary/ Stranraer / Newton Stewart / Castle Douglas / Kirkcudbright & Moffat)
- All Chemists.
Why do emergency contraception pills fail?
Emergency contraception pills are most likely to fail if:
- They are taken more than 72 hours (levonorgestrel) or 120 hours (ulipristal) after unprotected sex
- You vomit within 2 hours of taking the pills
- You have had unprotected sex at another time since your last period
- You have unprotected sex after taking the pills
If the pills fail will they harm the baby?
There is no evidence to suggest that emergency pills affect the pregnancy or harm the baby.
Is emergency contraception an abortion?
Emergency contraception may:
- stop ovulation
- stop fertilisation of an egg
- prevent a fertilised egg being implanted in the womb.
Medical and legal opinions are quite clear that an abortion can only take
place once implantation of a fertilised egg has occured.
People who believe that life begins when the egg is fertilised may not wish to use these methods.