Condoms burst, pills get missed or sometimes you have sex without a condom and regret it later, it can happen. Luckily, emergency contraception (often called the morning after pill) can prevent pregnancy if you've had unprotected sex.

You can get the emergency hormonal contraceptive (EHC) pill and the IUD for free from:

  • a GP surgery that provides contraception (some GP surgeries may not provide the IUD)
  • a contraception clinic 
  • a sexual health clinic 
  • some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
  • some young people's clinics

You can also get the emergency contraceptive pill free from:

  • most pharmacies 
  • some minor injuries units
  • some Accident & Emergency departments

You can visit any branch of Charles Michie's Pharmacy for confidential advice on Emergency Hormonal Contraception.

How quickly do I need to take emergency contraception?

Although we call it the 'morning after pill', the emergency contraceptive pill can actually be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, but it is more effective the sooner it is taken.

If it's over 72 hours since you had unprotected sex, 'Ellaone' is another emergency contraceptive pill that can be used to prevent pregnancy up to five days after unprotected sex.

If you're under 16 years old

Contraception services are free and confidential, including for people under the age of 16.

If you're under 16 and want contraception, the doctor, nurse or pharmacist won't tell your parents (or carer) as long as they believe you fully understand the information you're given, and the decisions you're making.

Doctors and nurses work under strict guidelines when dealing with people under 16. They'll encourage you to consider telling your parents, but they won't make you.

The only time a professional might want to tell someone else is if they believe you're at risk of harm, such as abuse. The risk would need to be serious, and they would usually discuss this with you first.