Whichever form of contraception you choose to use, there is always a risk of accidents. A condom can split, or you may simply get caught in the moment. These occurrences can happen even if you are usually very careful. If you do find yourself in this situation, it is important not to panic. If you have unprotected sex, there is emergency contraception available to protect you against pregnancy.
Many women are now choosing to buy the morning-after pill in advance so it is available immediately if an accident does occur. This is especially useful because emergency contraception is more effective the earlier it is taken.
Types of emergency contraception
There are currently two types of morning-after pill available on prescription. The first is Levonelle, which is an oral contraceptive that can be used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. ellaOne is a newer form of morning-after pill also designed for oral use, which can be taken up to five days after the risky event. Both ellaOne and Levonelle have high rates of efficacy, but they are both considerably more effective the earlier they are taken after unprotected sex.
When to use emergency contraception
If your regular contraceptive fails or if you have unprotected sex, you should use emergency contraception. You only need to take one morning-after pill after this happens, and you should only take one pill per menstrual cycle. Emergency contraception is significantly more effective the earlier it is taken after unprotected sex. For example, Levonelle prevents 95% of pregnancies if it is taken in the first 24 hours, but this efficacy rating falls to 85% after 48 hours and 58% within 72 hours.
It is a good idea to use a condom for the duration of your menstrual cycle, even if you already take a daily combined contraceptive pill. This is so the risk of contraceptive failure is minimised as much as possible.
How to be sure the emergency contraceptive has been successful
If your next period arrives as normal, you will know that the morning-after pill has been successful. You should consider taking a pregnancy test if your period does not arrive within three weeks of you taking the medication. You should wait until three weeks before you take a test because results before this time period will not be accurate. It is also important to remember that emergency contraception is designed to prevent pregnancy, and it will not work if you are already pregnant.