Contraception guide

Where can I get emergency contraception?

It depends what type of emergency contraception you use. There are two methods:

  • the emergency contraceptive pill (morning after pill) – there are two types, Levonelle or ellaOne
  • the intrauterine device (IUD, or coil)

Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy if:

  • you haven't used contraception
  • your usual method of contraception has failed

Emergency contraception should not be used instead of your usual method of contraception.

The sooner you use emergency contraception after having unprotected sex, the more effective it is. For more information, see How effective is emergency contraception?

The emergency contraceptive pill

You can get Levonelle and ellaOne free of charge from:

  • contraception clinics
  • Brook centres
  • some pharmacies (find pharmacies near you)
  • most sexual health clinics, also known as genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
  • most NHS walk-in centres or urgent care centres (England only)
  • most GP surgeries (find GPs near you)
  • some hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments

Find out about sexual health services near you.

You can also buy Levonelle from most pharmacies and some private clinics if you're 16 or over. Prices vary, but it's likely to cost around £25.

Levonelle can be taken within 72 hours (three days) of having unprotected sex, but it's most effective if taken within 12 hours of having unprotected sex.

You take one Levonelle tablet. It works by stopping or delaying ovulation (when your ovaries release an egg).

You can also buy ellaOne from most pharmacies if you're aged 16 or over. Prices vary, but it's likely to cost around £35.

EllaOne can be taken within 120 hours (five days) of having unprotected sex, but it's most effective if taken as soon as possible after having unprotected sex.

You take one ellaOne tablet. It stops or delays ovulation and makes it more difficult for a fertilised egg to implant into your womb.


The IUD (intrauterine device) is available from:

  • contraception clinics
  • Brook centres
  • most sexual health clinics (GUM clinics)
  • most GP surgeries

The IUD is placed inside your womb. It damages both the sperm and the egg, and prevents a fertilised egg implanting in your womb.

It must be fitted by a healthcare professional within five days of having unprotected sex, or, if it's possible to estimate when you ovulate, up to five days after you ovulate. The IUD is the most effective type of emergency contraception.

You can keep the IUD in as your regular method of contraception, or a healthcare professional can remove it during your next period.


Emergency contraception may not be suitable for everyone. Find out more about emergency contraception.

If you're sick

If you're sick (vomit) within three hours of taking Levonelle or ellaOne, speak to your GP. You may need to take another pill. 

Page last reviewed: 16/07/2014

Next review due: 31/07/2017


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