Emergency Contraception


Emergency contraception is a safe and effective method of preventing pregnancy when regular contraception has failed or if no contraception was used. It is available from your local CarePlus Pharmacy, without prescription subject to meeting certain criteria.

If you think you may need emergency contraception, it is advised to attend your Pharmacy promptly as emergency contraception can be effective up to 120 hours after unprotected sex but is more effective the sooner you use it.

The service is available for free for medical card holders and women aged 17-30. If you are aged 17-30 you will be required to have your PPS number and proof of date of birth. A fee applies to anyone who does not have a medical card or is not in the 17-30 age cohort. To find out more, speak to your local CarePlus Pharmacist.

Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. To find out more information on Emergency Contraception and STIs, talk to your local CarePlus Pharmacist, see the FAQs.

Online Form

You can now fill in our 'Online Emergency Contraception Form' in advance by selecting the “Order Now” button. You must call your selected CarePlus Pharmacy in person to pick it up and a brief consultation with your CarePlus Pharmacist is still necessary. Patients are asked to provide a telephone contact number during the online process, this means that should a Pharmacist wish to query anything, it is done prior to your arrival, making the consultation process much faster and more convenient.

Please note the "Online" service is available in selected CarePlus Pharmacies and must be within the CarePlus Pharmacy opening hours. To see the opening hours for your local CarePlus Pharmacy offering online service please click here

Or alternatively:

Call your CarePlus Pharmacy

For pharmacies not offering the "Online Emergency Contraception Form" or if you would prefer not to fill the form in advance, you can always call into your local CarePlus Pharmacy to avail of this service. Our trained CarePlus Pharmacist will then take you through some questions in our private consultation room to ascertain if the emergency contraceptive is suitable for you. The whole process shouldn't take longer than 10 minutes and it doesn't require an appointment.

Treatment Active Ingredient When to Take?
Norlevo or Prevenelle Levonorgestrel Within 3 days (72 hours) of unprotected sex
ellaOne Ullipristal Acetate Within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected sex


Emergency contraception is the umbrella term used for treatments used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. The term unprotected sex means sex that has happened when you’ve not used contraception or your contraception has failed, for example a condom might have broken, or you’ve forgotten your pill.
Emergency contraception is a safe, effective, and responsible method of preventing pregnancy when regular contraception has failed or if no contraception was used. Emergency contraception pills are available directly from a Pharmacy without a doctor's prescription to women over 16 years of age, subject to meeting certain medical criteria which are outlined on the consultation form. 

There are two types of emergency contraceptive pill (ECP), both of which our CarePlus Pharmacists can provide:
o Levonorgestrel (sometimes known as the three-day pill, or under its branded names Norlevo or Prevenelle)
o ellaOne (sometimes knowns as the five-day pill)

There is also an emergency contraceptive coil (intrauterine copper device or IUCD), which you can access through your local sexual health services.
The emergency contraception service is available free of charge to medical card holders when a valid card is presented and for women aged 17-26 under the National Free Contraception Scheme. For other customers, a fee will be charged, depending on the outcome of the consultation and the type of emergency contraception supplied.
Emergency contraception is only available for click and collect to patients 18 + years who meet the necessary medical criteria.

Emergency contraceptive pills may prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex by postponing ovulation if it has not already happened, this means the sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes will be unable to meet an egg and fertilise it. This is like regular contraceptive pills, which also work by preventing egg release. Emergency contraceptive pills are not 100% effective. This is because there is a chance that you may have already ovulated when you take an emergency contraceptive pill. Taking emergency contraceptive pills as soon as possible after unprotected sex gives the best chance of success.
Remember, emergency contraception cannot protect against sexually transmitted disease. No emergency contraceptive is safe to be used on a regular basis and should be used for emergency only and not as a form of contraception.
If you have any questions about contraception or STI’s s you should speak to a nurse or doctor or visit
Some of the reasons supply of the Emergency Contraception Pill may not be possible:
• Too much time has passed since the unprotected sex for the medicine to be effective (max. time is 120 hours)
• You may be taking other pills or have certain medical conditions that make it unsafe for you to use emergency contraception
• You are allergic to any of the ingredients in the pill
• You have already taken an emergency contraceptive pill within this cycle
• Your last period was irregular in some way
Your local CarePlus Pharmacists will determine if the emergency contraception pill is suitable for you. If for any reason the pill is not suitable, there may be further options available. Our CarePlus Pharmacists are trained to be able to direct you to the correct source for help or support.

Depending on which ECP you take, they have different levels of effectiveness.
• Levonorgestrel is 99% effective when taken within 12 hours of unprotected sex, it’s then less effective on days two and three
• ellaOne is 95% effective, but the sooner you take it the more effective it is

The two types of emergency contraceptive pill have different windows in which you can take them in:
o Levonorgestrel must be taken within three days (72 hours) of unprotected sex
o ellaOne must be taken within five days (120 hours) of unprotected sex

Like all treatments, some people might experience side effects when taking the emergency contraceptive pill. Some women might feel sick, dizzy, or tired, others might get headaches, sore breasts, period-type pain or diarrhoea. Usually, these kinds of symptoms will pass in a day or two.
Some women might also experience changes to their period, you might get some bleeding before your period is due, or it might come earlier or late. If your period is more than a week late, it’s best to take a pregnancy test, as there might be a chance the emergency contraceptive pill hasn’t worked.

No; emergency contraception pills only protect you after unprotected sex. However, the emergency contraceptive coil would protect you from getting pregnant for up to 10 years.
If you’re looking for advice around routine contraception, please visit

Your order will be usually available for collection within 1 hour approx. of placing the order online.
The private consultation with your CarePlus Pharmacist will take approx. 5 minutes when you present to the pharmacy.

Emergency contraception pill is only available for click and collect to patients aged 18 years and older who meet the necessary medical criteria.
Emergency contraception pill is not available for click and collect to patients aged 16-17 years, these patients can only access emergency contraception by presenting into your local CarePlus Pharmacy.
If you’re looking for advice around routine contraception, please visit