If your contraception has failed, you can still take emergency contraception, if you act quickly
If a woman has unprotected sex, or if the condom used breaks, she could be at risk of becoming pregnant. If you act quickly you can reduce the chances significantly.
What is emergency hormonal contraception?
Emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) is a type of contraception that can be taken after you have had unprotected sex and are worried that you might get pregnant. It is also sometimes called the ‘morning after pill’.
The EHC can be taken up to 72 hours after you have had unprotected sex but the earlier you take it, the better it works.
Young women aged under 18 can get EHC free of charge from some Oxfordshire chemists (also called pharmacists – Boots is the most famous brand).
You can also buy Emergency Contraception over the counter from a chemist if you are over 16.
How to get EHC
You can get emergency contraception from lots of places, including:
- your Doctor, or another GP's surgery
- most pharmacies (chemists)
- some school Bodyzones or other health drop-ins
- any Contraception & Sexual Health (C&SH) Clinic.
Because it is important to take EHC as soon as possible after sex, you should request an emergency appointment, or explain that you need EHC.
Oxfordshire chemists supplying free EHC to young women
Please be aware that EHC might only be available at limited times or from particular pharmacists, and that you will have to have a short conversation with the pharmacist so they know it's safe for you to take it. Some pharmacies won’t sell or give EHC away so check this list to see which ones will and how to contact them..
- Pharmacists in Oxfordshire which provide FREE emergency contraception for young people under 18 (PDF)
- Oxfordshire Pharmacies offering free emergency contraception to under 18’s over Christmas 2012 and New Year 2013 (PDF)
Warning: Although EHC is effective, it should not be taken too often or used as a regular form of contraception. Before you take it, you have to talk to a pharmacist, doctor or nurse so they can check it's safe for you to take. Use this talk to ask about effective long-term contraception.
My experience: ‘Everyone was friendly at the clinic’
‘On my first visit to the Alec Turnbull clinic I saw Carrie, the nurse. She was friendly and explained everything. She said she would not write to my doctor if I didn’t want her to. I didn’t have to give my name and address, but I didn’t mind because they said they wouldn’t write home. She asked a lot of questions about my health and my family to make sure that if I went on the Pill I wouldn’t have dangerous side effects. Then I saw the doctor. I was glad it was a lady doctor. She gave me the pills and told me how to take them and when. She said I could ring or come back if I had any problems. If you are thinking about going to a Family Planning Clinic, don’t worry. Everyone is nice to you. I thought they might tell me to take all my clothes off, but all you have is a blood pressure test and they weigh you.’ – Rebecca