If you’ve had sex without protection and you don’t want to get pregnant, you might decide to use emergency contraception. Perhaps you got carried away in the moment, the condom split, or maybe you have missed more than one contraceptive pill. However it happened, it’s important that you know the options available to you.
Some people choose to have an intrauterine device (IUD) fitted to prevent pregnancy. Another option is to use the morning after pill. In this post, we focus on the two types of morning after pill that are available in the UK - those containing levonorgestrel, such as LoviOne, and those with the active ingredient ulipristal acetate. Keep reading to discover where you can get these emergency contraception treatments and how many of the tablets you should take. We also reveal whether men can buy these treatments on behalf of their partners.
Where to get the morning after pill
You can buy the morning after pill from most pharmacies, either online or in store. Bear in mind that you need to be 16 or over to purchase levonorgestrel. Anyone younger than this must have a prescription from their doctor.
You can also access both types of morning after pill from some contraception and sexual health clinics, as well as most NHS walk-in centres and GP surgeries. Unlike when you use a pharmacy however, you may need to make an appointment if you use these services.
Can you buy the morning after pill over the counter?
Yes, you can purchase the morning after pill over the counter from most high street pharmacies. However, before pharmacists sell these treatments to you, they will ask you some questions to make sure the medication is suitable for you. For example, if you’re buying a morning after pill containing levonorgestrel, you might be asked questions such as:
- Is the medicine for your own use?
- Are you over 16 years old?
- Have you had unprotected sex within the last three days (72 hours)?
- Have you had unprotected sex earlier in your current menstrual cycle?
- Was your most recent period late, or shorter or lighter, than you’re used to?
- Have you used levonorgestrel tablets since your last period?
- Are you taking any medications, including herbal remedies?
- Have you experienced an allergic reaction to levonorgestrel in the past?
This is just to make sure that the treatment is appropriate and suitable for you to use.
How many levonorgestrel pills should I take?
If you get the levonorgestrel morning after pill, you will typically be given one 1.5mg tablet, which must be taken within three days (72 hours) of having unprotected sex. The sooner it is taken, the more effective it is.
Also, it’s important to know that if you throw up within three hours of taking levonorgestrel, you may need to repeat the dose. You should speak to your pharmacist or doctor for advice if this happens. They might suggest that you take another tablet, or they may recommend that you have the IUD fitted.
Do all pharmacies offer emergency contraception?
Most high street pharmacies sell emergency contraception. To save yourself a wasted trip, you can call ahead to see if your local pharmacy offers this type of medication. It’s also possible to buy the morning after pill online. Some people find this to be a more convenient option, however you must consider how long it will take for the medicine to be delivered. The morning after pill is most effective when taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex.
Can men buy the morning after pill?
There is a certain amount of confusion over whether men can buy the morning after pill on behalf of their partners. Many people believe that you can only purchase this medication if you are the one who will be taking it, ruling out the possibility of men buying it. However, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) states that pharmacists can supply this treatment to someone other than the patient themselves if they are satisfied that the request is genuine, and the treatment is clinically appropriate.
To assess whether the morning after pill is suitable, pharmacists will ask the person buying the medicine a few questions (like those we outlined earlier in this post). If the person purchasing the medication can’t provide all the details the pharmacist needs, the RPS recommends that the pharmacist telephones the patient to ask them.
If the pharmacist has all the information they need to determine that the morning after pill is suitable for the patient, and they’re satisfied that the request is genuine, they can sell the treatment. This means that men can purchase this medication for their partners.
If you’re planning to buy the morning after pill for your partner, you might want to note down the answers to questions you’re likely to be asked, or make sure you can reach your partner by phone if you’re unsure of anything.
Understanding your options when it comes to emergency contraception, and knowing how to access these treatments, is important. If you’ve had unprotected sex and don’t want to get pregnant, you will need to act quickly. The sooner you take the morning after pill, or have the IUD fitted, the lower the risk of pregnancy.
Lovima 75mg Film-Coated Tablets. Desogestrel. Oral Contraception. Always read the label.
LoviOne 1.5mg tablet. Levonorgestrel. Emergency Contraception, Always read the label.
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/where-can-i-get-emergency-contraception/ Royal Pharmaceutical Society (2017): Oral emergency contraceptives as pharmacy medicines, a quick reference guide