If you’ve had sex without using contraception or think your contraception hasn’t worked, emergency hormonal contraception (the ‘morning after pill’) can usually prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours (3 days) of having sex. It is more effective if started within the first 24 hours.

4YP Pharmacists in Haringey

All the participating pharmacies in this scheme can provide you with free emergency hormonal contraception pills. This service is free and confidential for young people aged under 25. Some of the participating pharmacists also provide chlamydia screening for under 25's. Full details here

Where can I get EHC?

You can get EHC from:

  • 4YP pharmacies in Enfield and Haringey, for young people aged 25 and under or available from most pharmacists to buy over the counter.
  • Any contraceptive or CaSH clinic.
  • Any young person's clinic or Brook clinic.
  • Most sexual health/GUM clinics.
  • Most school nurse, sexual health out reach nurse and A and E Departments.
  • Most NHS walk-in centres.

Further information on NHS Choices pharmacists where you can also buy EHC over the counter.

REMEMBER - Emergency Hormonal Contraception does not provide you with the same level of protection against pregnancy as other forms of contraception and it doesn't protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Emergency Hormonal Contraception

What’s involved?

Emergency hormonal contraceptive pills contain a Progestogen hormone, which is similar to the natural progesterone women produce in their ovaries. They should be taken within three days (72 hours) of having unprotected sex. They are more effective the sooner they are taken. However they are not as effective as using other methods of contraception such as the pill or condoms regularly and do not protect you against sexually transmitted infections.

How do I take them?

Emergency hormonal pills come in a packet of one. The pill should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.

How does emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) work?

The pills may:

  • Stop an egg being released (ovulation)
  • Delay ovulation
  • Stop a fertile egg settling in your womb (implanting).
How effective are emergency pills?
  • Emergency contraceptive pills are very effective. They are more effective the sooner they are taken after sex
  • If taken within 24 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse, they will prevent more than 9 out of 10 (95%) pregnancies expected to occur if no emergency contraception had been used.
  • If taken 72 hours after unprotected sex they will prevent more than 5 out of 10 (58%) pregnancies expected to occur if no emergency contraception had been used.
Will EHC protect me from pregnancy until my next period?

No. EHC will not protect you from pregnancy if you have further unprotected sex. The doctor, nurse or pharmacist can give you information about contraception choices.

What are the disadvantages?

There are no serious short or long-term effects from using emergency pills. Some women will feel sick and have headaches, dizziness, tiredness, breast tenderness and abdominal pain. A very small number of women will vomit.

How will EHC affect my period?

Your period may come earlier than expected or it may be up to a week late. Mostly it comes within a few days of when you would expect it. You may experience some irregular bleeding between taking the emergency pills and getting your next period. This can range from spotting to being quite heavy.

When is the right time to have sex?

16 is the age when most people have sex for the first time, but it is not unusual to decide that you want to wait until you are older. Many people decide that they want to wait for the right partner, or until they are married. Always remember that it is your choice.