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Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception can prevent prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if your contraceptive method has failed - for example, a condom has split or you've missed a pill. There are two types:

  • the emergency contraceptive pill (sometimes called the morning after pill)​
  • the IUD (intrauterine device, or coil)

There are two kinds of emergency contraceptive pill. Levonelle has be taken within 72 hours (three days) of sex, and ellaOne has to be taken within 120 hours (five days) of sex. Both work by preventing or delaying ovulation (release of an egg).

The IUD can be inserted into your uterus up to five days after unprotected sex, or up to five days after the earliest time you could have ovulated. It may stop an egg from being fertilised or implanting in your womb.

Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Where can I get it from?

There are three types of places you can access emergency contraception, and you can use whichever you feel most comfortable with:

Certain pharmacies now give out emergency contraception for free, so long as you are registered at a Cambridge GP Practice. The procedure is fairly easy, you go to the pharmacy, ask to talk to a pharmacist about emergency contraception (or if you prefer, you can say about 'Levonelle'). The pharmacist will then ask you some questions and if appropriate give you the pill as well as information on potential side-effects and problems. The following pharmacies are part of this scheme:

  • Boots, Newmarket Road
  • Boots, Cherry Hinton Road
  • Boots, Grafton Centre
  • Boots, Petty Cury
  • Kays Chemist, Wulfstan Way
  • Lloyds, Arbury Court
  • Lloyds, Trumpington Street
  • Co-operative, Barnwell Road
  • Superdrug, Fitzroy Street
  • Superdrug, Sidney Street

Other pharmacies will give you the same information and ask the same questions but you will have to pay for the pill. It usually costs about £25.

Some pharmacies have an online ordering service which allows you to order and pay for the pill online and have it delivered to your address usually within a few hours. It is also possible to pay a small additional fee to also have a telephone consultation with a doctor. We are aware that the following pharmacies offer this service:

You can also get a free prescription from your GP or the Lime Tree Clinic. The doctor or nurse will talk you through some questions to decide if emergency contraception is the right choice for you, and also talk about side-effects, contraception and any emotions you might be feeling. You will then get a prescription which you will then have to take to a pharmacy, but without having to pay the charge. Finally, it is also available out of hours from Addenbrooke's A&E department.