The Emergency Contraception (EHC) pill is available from your local McCartan’s Pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription. However a confidential consultation with a pharmacist is needed to ensure that the EHC is suitable for you to use. If, for any reason, it is not suitable, the pharmacist will direct you to another source of help and support. EHC may not be suitable for you because of the medications you are on, an existing medical condition or if your last period was irregular in some way.
Emergency contraception works if you have had sex and did not use contraception or you feel that the contraception didn’t work and is considered a safe and effective method of preventing pregnancy. They work by stopping ovulation, or fertilisation of an egg, or stop a fertilised egg from implanting in the womb. It does not work if you are already pregnant.
There are two types of EHC,
- Those containing 1500mcg levonorgestrel, such as Norlevo
- Those containing ulipristal acetate 30mg, such as EllaOne.
Norlevo is effective up to 72hrs after unprotected sex but is more effective the sooner you use it. Of the pregnancies that could be expected to have occurred if no emergency contraception had been used it will prevent
- Up to 95% if taken within 24hrs
- Up to 85% if taken between 25-48hrs
- Up to 58% if taken between 49-72hrs
EllaOne is effective up to 120hrs and is proven to be more effective than levonorgestrel 1500mcg.
They will not work if you:
- Take the medication more than 72hrs after unprotected sex for Norlevo and after 120hrs for EllaOne.
- Vomit within 3hrs after taking the EHC
- Have had unprotected sex at another time, either since your last period or since taking the pills.
It is important to remember that emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. If you have any questions about STI’s it is important to talk to your pharmacist or doctor. Some STI’s are painful, some lead to infertility and while most are treatable some like HIV/AIDS have no cure. For more information on STI’s visit www.thinkcontraception.ie