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A woman can use emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex, or if a method of contraception has failed.
There are two methods of emergency contraception:
Both of these methods are effective at preventing pregnancy if they are used soon after unprotected sex. However, the IUD is always 99.9% effective, whereas failures after Levonelle are not as rare.
There are two types of emergency contraceptive pill:
Most women can use the emergency contraceptive pill, including women who are breastfeeding and those who cannot usually use hormonal contraception (such as the combined pill or contraceptive patch).
The emergency contraceptive pill should not be used as a regular method of contraception.
Read more about the emergency contraceptive pill.
The copper intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic and copper device that can be fitted into your womb by a doctor or nurse within five days of having unprotected sex or up to five days after ovulation (release of an egg).
The IUD stops sperm from reaching an egg and fertilising it, and to some extent prevents implantation of a fertilised egg into the womb lining.
It is the most effective method of emergency contraception and prevents at least 99.9% of pregnancies.
Most women can use the IUD for emergency contraception. It is particularly suitable if:
Read more about the intrauterine device.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.