Women's Health: Emergency Contraception

Accidents can happen. If they do, ask us about our Emergency Contraception Service.

Accidents can happen. If they do, ask us about our Emergency Contraception Service.

Emergency Contraception is a safe and effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Many women make the responsible decision to control their reproductive health in this way

CarePlus Pharmacists are here to support you in confidence and with discretion. We will discuss your needs in the privacy of our consultation room.

Available without prescription from your local CarePlus Pharmacy. You can also obtain the medication with a prescription from your GP. Emergency Contraception may also be obtainable from your local family planning clinic.

WHAT IS EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION?

Emergency contraception is a safe and effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Many women make the responsible decision to control their reproductive health in this way when their usual method of contraception fails.

Your CarePlus Pharmacists are here to support you with the upmost discretion and can discuss your needs or concerns in the privacy of our consultation room.

Our CarePlus Pharmacist will take you through a quick questionnaire in private to determine that the medication is suitable and safe for you. You will be asked about the occasion of unprotected sex, your last period, any medicine or vitamins you take and any medical conditions you have – this should take no longer than 5 minutes.

The only cost you will pay is the price of the medication itself, which varies by brand.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The emergency contraceptive pill prevents the ovaries releasing an egg (ovulation). It also:

  • thickens the mucus in the neck of the womb, so it is harder for sperm to penetrate into the womb and reach an egg
  • thins the lining of the womb, so there is less chance of a fertilised egg implanting into the womb and being able to grow
  • The medicine works by preventing pregnancy from occurring, it does not stop an existing pregnancy

EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVE OPTIONS

Emergency Contraception is available in two forms. Your Pharmacist will advise on which form is most suitable for you.

There are different emergency contraception choices for different situations, depending on when you had your last period and when you last had unprotected sex.

Emergency contraceptive pill

The emergency contraceptive pill – also known as the “morning after” pill is available without prescription from your local CarePlus Pharmacy.

NorLevo, which is available over the counter, can be taken up to three days (72 hours) after unprotected sex and is available directly from your CarePlus Pharmacy.

EllaOne is also available directly from a pharmacy without a prescription from a GP or Family Planning Clinic and can be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex.

Intrauterine device (IUD)

The copper intrauterine device (IUD, sometimes referred to as the Copper Coil) is another method of emergency contraception. This prevents pregnancy if it is fitted within five days of having unprotected sex.

This is only available with a prescription from your doctor and must be fitted by your GP or at a clinic.

Feel free to speak to your CarePlus Pharmacist in confidence about your options and they will happily advise on which form is most suitable for you and your circumstances.

IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION

  • Take the medication as soon as possible
  • The medicine works by preventing pregnancy from occurring, it does not stop an existing pregnancy
  • It can be taken by women of all ages – the Pharmacy can provide it to anyone at or above the age of sexual consent. Women under the age of 16 should speak to their CarePlus Pharmacist about their options
  • The effectiveness of the emergency contraceptive pill depends on how soon you take it after sex. Taking it within 12 hours of having sex gives the best chance of preventing a pregnancy, however it can be taken after this time.
  • The emergency contraceptive pill is: 95% effective if taken within 24 hours of having sex, 85% effective if taken within 24-48 hours of having sex and 58% effective if taken within 48-72 hours of having sex
  • It will not prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections or disease
  • Women who are breast-feeding should ensure to follow the advice on the information leaflet that comes with the medication – there are different guidelines for each pill. There may be some changes to the level of milk produced for a short time after taking the medicine.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

  • If you vomit within 3 hours of taking the emergency contraceptive pill, it is vital return to your CarePlus Pharmacy for another dose or for further advice as it may not have fully absorbed into your bloodstream by this time
  • Use a barrier method of contraception until your next period as emergency contraception does not provide contraception for the rest of your cycle
  • There is no evidence to indicate that taking emergency contraception will affect your fertility in the future. There is also no evidence to indicate that it is less effective with repeated use or causes any harmful long-term effects.
  • Taking emergency contraception is effective but does come with a small risk of failure. If your next period is late, unusual or does not occur, we advise that you take a pregnancy test
  • You should visit your GP if you experience any of the following:
  • your next period is late
  • your next period is unusual
  • you experience severe lower abdominal pain

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS

There are no known long-term effects of taking emergency contraception. Please read the leaflet that comes with your medication carefully. Some women may experience the following:

Dizziness
Fatigue
Sickness/nausea
Headaches
Breast tenderness
Stomach upset/diarrhoea
Lower abdominal pain
Spot bleeding before next period
Next period is late or early
Vomiting

These symptoms should improve within a few days. If they do not, speak to your CarePlus Pharmacist or GP.

FURTHER SUPPORT

www.thinkcontraception.ie

Information on your contraception choices and sexual health.

www2.hse.ie/services/unplanned-pregnancy-support-services/my-options-freephone-line.html

Options is a HSE freephone line that provides free and confidential information and counselling to people experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.

www.positiveoptions.ie

Crisis Pregnancy information and advice.

www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/5/Sexhealth/

List of free STI (sexually transmitted infection) clinics in Ireland.

www.ifpa.ie

Irish Family Planning Association.


Check out our article all about your options when it comes to methods of contraception.



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