At The Independent Pharmacy, we know that accidents happen. As careful as most of us are during sex, contraception doesn’t offer a100% guarantee of preventing pregnancy: condoms can split, for instance, while doses of the contraceptive pill can sometimes be missed. Fortunately, when these accidents do happen (or if you’ve got carried away and knowingly had unprotected sex), there’s a way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy after the event.
You’ve likely heard of the so-called “morning-after pill” (a form of emergency contraception that can be taken following unprotected sex), but would you know where (and how) to get it in case of an emergency? Do you know what pills are available and how much they cost? You might want to purchase an advance supply so you’re prepared for any future accidents.
Here, we’ll provide advice on where to get the morning-after pill (whether you need an immediate dose or an advance supply), what types of pill are available, and how much the morning-after pill costs.
What is the morning-after pill?
The morning-after pill is an emergency contraceptive method that can prevent pregnancy following unprotected sex, or where the contraception you’re using has failed — for example, if a condom has split or you’ve forgotten to take a contraceptive pill. And while we refer to it as the morning-after pill, it can in fact be taken up to 3 to 5 days after unprotected sex has ocurred (depending on which pill you’re taking), although it should ideally be taken within the first 24 hours to ensure it is most effective.
How does the morning-after pill work?
This emergency method of contraception mainly works by delaying or stopping ovulation. Due to this, the morning-after pill is most effective the sooner it is taken following unprotected sex. By stopping or delaying the release of an egg from the ovary, the morning-after pill prevents the egg from being fertilised and causes the sperm to die off.
However, you should be aware that while the morning-after pill is generally effective at preventing pregnancy (depending on the pill you take and when you take it), it will not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, or genital herpes. If you’ve had unprotected sex, you should book an STI check at your GP surgery or sexual health clinic.
Where can I get the morning-after pill?
If you need an immediate supply of emergency contraception following unprotected sex or a contraception failure, you should visit your GP, your local pharmacy, or a sexual health clinic as soon as as you can to ensure you can take it as quickly as possible — ideally no more than 24 hours after having unprotected sex.
Advance supplies of the morning-after pill (so you are prepared for any emergencies in future) can be purchased online from The Independent Pharmacy via our Emergency Contraception page. Simply select the pill you require, and your supply can then be posted out the next working day.
What morning-after pills are available?
There are two single-dose treatments available for emergency contraception, both containing synthetic hormones that prevent the fertilisation of an egg by a sperm. These are available over-the-counter or online without the need for a prescription:
- Levonorgestrel (the generic form of the branded drug Levonelle) is available as a 1.5mg dose and can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. If taken within the first 24 hours, Levonorgestrel is 95% effective at preventing pregnancy; if taken later than this, the effectiveness may be reduced.
- EllaOne is the newest type of emergency contraceptive pill; it can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex whilst remaining up to 98% effective. For this reason, EllaOne is often the best emergency contraceptive to take if it’s been more than 24 hours since you had unprotected sex.
Can you get the morning-after pill in advance?
It’s generally a good idea to have an advance supply of emergency contraception to hand. Accidents happen, and it’s not always easy to get hold of the morning after-pill straight away: you wouldn’t want a contraception failure to cause a panic while you’re away on holiday, for example.
Having a supply of EllaOne or Levonorgestrel ready to take when you need it avoids the worry of having to book an appointment with your GP at short notice or get through an embarrassing conversion about emergency contraception with a pharmacist.
You can purchase an advance supply of EllaOne or Levonorgestrel today from The Independent Pharmacy without the need for a prescription.
How much does the morning-after pill cost?
The price of the emergency contraceptive pill varies depending on whether you’re using Levonorgestrel or EllaOne. As EllaOne is up to 98% effective even when taken up 5 days after unprotected sex, it’s understandably more expensive to buy than Levonorgestrel, which is only 58% effective when taken between 48 and 72 hours after.
A single advance dose of EllaOne can be purchased from The Independent Pharmacy for £29.99, while a single advance dose of Levonorgestrel costs £9.99. Your order will arrive as early as the next working day in 100% discreet packaging.
If you need any support or advice regarding emergency contraception, speak to your doctor orcontact us today.