Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception Image

Forgotten to take a pill?

If you discover that you have forgotten to take your contraceptive pill within 48 hours, you should take an extra pill when you realize this. If more than 36 hours have passed (more than 27 hours with minipills) you will have no protection and you must use another method, such as condoms, during the following week. If you forget this, you will need to take a pregnancy test. Emergency contraception (“morning-after pill”) is available in most countries for emergency situations, that is if you have had unprotected intercourse between day 8 and 18 (counting with 28 days between menstrual periods, and day 1 being the first day of bleeding). The risk of getting pregnant after unprotected intercourse is 6-7% overall, and at the time of ovulation as high as 20-30%. With “morning-after pills”, this risk goes down to 1-3%.

This type of medication prevents the fertilized egg from implanting in the membranes of the uterus. Unfortunately, feeling or even being sick is a relatively common side effect. A new type of tablet containing only one type of hormone (progesterone, Norlevo®, Postinor®, Levonelle®, Plan B®) decreases both the risk of unwanted pregnancy and the risk of sickness. “Morning-after pills” must be taken at the very latest 72 hours after intercourse, which is why you should get in touch with your pregnancy advisory service, general practitioner or local pharmacy as soon as possible. They are available as “over the counter” medication if you are above the age of 18 in the UK. The contraceptive effect is higher, the earlier the tablets are taken. Contact an emergency pharmacy, or the hospital, if the need for these arises over the weekend or after office hours.


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