Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception

If you have had unprotected sex, or your contraception has failed, you could be at risk of getting pregnant.  You can use emergency contraception (the morning after pill / post-coital contraception) if you want to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. You might want to do this if you have had sex without using contraception, or if contraception has failed — for example if a condom slipped or you missed taking your regular contraceptive pill.

 Emergency contraception is more effective the sooner you take it after having unprotected sex. It must be taken no later than 5 days post intercourse.

 There are different emergency contraception choices for different situations, depending on when you had your last period and how long it has been since you had unprotected sex or if your contraceptive method has failed.

 It is available in two forms:

  • Emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) – progesterone (3-day) and ulipristal (5-day)
  • Insertion of an intrauterine copper device (IUCD)

 Where can I get emergency contraception?

Both methods of the ECP are available on medical card directly from pharmacies without a prescription, or from a doctor or family planning clinic. Ask a pharmacist for a private consultation.

 The IFPA’s clinics in Dublin city centre and Tallaght provide a walk-in service for the ECP.

The IUCD is fitted by a trained doctor.

 You can also talk to your doctor about the best option for you and discuss regular contraception. 

Who can take Emergency Contraception?

  • Women of all ages can use emergency contraception
  • Emergency contraception is not suitable as a regular method of contraception
  • Many women believe that emergency contraception can only be taken 3 times in their lifetimes - there is no evidence to support this.
  • If you are already pregnant, emergency contraceptive pills or the coil will not work.

 More information

Emergency Contraception explained

Options available to you

Irish Family Planning Association - Emergency Contraception