The morning after pill is a form of emergency contraception which can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or when other forms of contraception has failed, for example, a split condom. There are different routes of getting the morning after pill. In this post, I will cover the supply of the morning after pill free of charge.
The morning after pill options
Levonelle and ellaOne are two main options available as emergency contraception pills.
- Can be taken up to 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex
- Can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex
The sooner you take the morning after pill, the more effective it is.
The intrauterine device (IUD or coil) is the other form of emergency contraception. Coil can be fitted up to 5 days after unprotected sex. This form of emergency contraception is more effective way of preventing pregnancy than the morning after pill.
The morning after pill free supply
There are a number of ways of getting the morning after pill for free (both Levonelle and ellaOne).
Free morning after pill can be obtained:
- On prescription, prescribed by a doctor or any other qualified prescriber e.g. nurse in most GP surgeries or via out of hours service
- From NHS walk in centres. Find centre.
- Most sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics. Find sexual health clinic.
- from Brooks centres: free emergency contraception service for under 25. Find Brooks centre.
- From a pharmacy via NHS service
The morning after pill free from the pharmacy
In some areas, it is possible to get the morning after pill from the pharmacy as a part of a local NHS service, without seeing GP.
With many pharmacies open late and easily accessible, getting the morning after pill for free from the pharmacy can be a good option. Patients need to note however that:
- Not all pharmacies provide the morning after pill for free
- Those that do provide free emergency contraception service require a trained pharmacist to be present at the premises, therefore there may be times when free service may not be available
- specifications for free emergency contraception service may differ depending on the location of the pharmacy. As part of this NHS service Levonelle (or ellaOne in some areas) may be offered to all patients aged 16+, and patients under 16 years of age (Fraser competent)
Finding your local pharmacy and contacting them directly to see if free service for the morning after pill is offered would be the best course of action.
Both Levonelle and ellaOne can be purchased from most pharmacies (including large chain pharmacies such as Boots, Lloyds and Tesco) after the consultation with the pharmacist.
Levonelle is licensed from the age of 16, whereas ellaOne has no age restrictions.
To read more about emergency contraception visit NHS website.