Can you get the morning after pill in advance?
- When can I get the morning after pill?
- How to get the morning after pill in advance
- Where to get the morning after pill in advance
- When should I take the morning after pill?
- Can I take the morning after pill on my period?
- Can I use the morning after pill as normal contraception?
- Using the emergency IUD instead of the morning after pill
Reviewed by Dr Neel Patel
Usually, if you need emergency contraception, you’ll get hold of it in the days following unprotected sex. What lots of people don’t realise is that it’s possible to get the morning after pill in advance – read on to find out more.
When can I get the morning after pill?
You need to take the morning after pill as soon as possible after unprotected sex for it to be effective. The morning after pill is most effective in the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, however it can be taken up to 3-5 days after depending on the type of pill.
If you think there’s a chance they may have unprotected sex and you want to avoid pregnancy, then you can get the morning after pill for future use. Find out if you need to pay for the morning after pill here. Ordering in advance can be helpful, however you shouldn’t rely on it as a method of routine contraception. We have a range of contraception options which may be suitable for you.
How to get the morning after pill in advance
You might want to get the morning after pill in advance if:
- You’re worried about your routine contraception failing
- You find it difficult to get hold of emergency contraception e.g. because you live in a remote area
You might also want a spare morning after pill if you’re going on holiday and you won’t have access to NHS services.
Whatever the reason for needing the morning after pill in advance, it’s worth seeing your GP or a nurse at a contraception clinic to talk through your needs. They can help you find a method of regular contraception that suits you and your lifestyle.
Having a reliable method of contraception that's easy to use should mean that you don't actually need emergency contraception. Methods that are particularly "user friendly" would be the copper coil (IUD), hormone coil (IUS), the implant or the injection. They remove the worry of "Have I taken my pill today?".
Where to get the morning after pill in advance
You should be able to get the morning after pill in advance by making an appointment with your GP or going to a contraception clinic. You can also get the morning after pill privately through a service like Online Doctor.
Requesting the morning after pill from Online Doctor
We’ve designed our emergency contraception service to be easy, convenient and safe.
If you need the morning after pill in advance, click here to visit our clinic and then click “Request emergency contraception”. You’ll need to fill out a short, confidential questionnaire where you detail your personal circumstances and medical history.
As part of this form, we’ll ask why you need the morning after pill – at this point you can select the option “I need it for future use”. Once you’ve submitted your questionnaire, one of our in-house clinicians will take a look at your responses to make sure it’s safe to prescribe the morning after pill.
If your order is approved, we’ll process your payment and make it available for collection in your local LloydsPharmacy store.
When should I take the morning after pill?
The best time to take the morning after pill is in the first 24 hours after unprotected sex. This isn’t always possible, the pill can be taken up to 3-5 days, depending on the type of morning after pill you take:
- Up to 3 days (72 hours)
- Up to 5 days (120 hours)
Find out how effective the morning after pill is this article: How effective is the morning after pill?
Can I take the morning after pill on my period?
As you can have sex at any point during your menstrual cycle, including your period. You can also take the morning after pill at any point during your menstrual cycle. This includes when you’re on your period.
Levonorgestrel and ellaOne are most effective when taken before you ovulate, so the sooner you take it after the unprotected sex the more effective it will be. ellaOne has been shown to be effective later in the menstrual cycle compared to other pills.
Can I use the morning after pill as normal contraception?
You shouldn’t try to use the morning after pill as normal contraception. It’s designed for one-off use when your contraception fails (e.g. the condom breaks) or you have unprotected sex.
You can use the morning after pill more than once during one menstrual cycle. However, it is far less effective than standard contraception, so you should look into your options for reliable birth control.
Contraception options include:
- The combined pill
- The progestogen-only, or “mini” pill
- The implant
- The injection
- The IUD (copper coil)
- The IUS (hormonal coil)
- Diaphragms and caps
- Fertility awareness methods
Read this article to find out more: Contraception options.
Using the emergency IUD instead of the morning after pill
The different emergency pills are quite effective but depending on how soon after sex you take them or where you are in your menstrual cycle, you can get caught out. That's why the most effective form of emergency contraception is the emergency IUD or coil.
The coil is a small, T-shaped device made from plastic and copper that sits in your uterus (womb). It works by releasing small amounts of copper. The IUD is designed for regular, ongoing contraception, but it can be inserted in an emergency situation.
If you’ve had unprotected sex in the past five days, you can visit a contraception clinic to get an IUD fitted (it’s not something you can do yourself). The emergency IUD is also available from Brooks centres, as well as some sexual health and GUM clinics, and GP surgeries. Find out more about where you can get emergency contraception.
It can sometimes be difficult to get an appointment in time, i.e. within 5 days of unprotected sex, so it's best to have the emergency pill on standby. You can still have the coil fitted even if you've taken the emergency contraceptive pill.
Once your coil has been inserted, you can keep it in and use it as ongoing contraception for the next five to 10 years.
Getting the morning after pill in advance, may be an option you’re considering to allow you to take it as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Ideally the morning after pill shouldn’t be used as your only form of contraception, however we know this isn’t always possible. We offer ellaOne and levonorgestrel which you can obtain through an online consultation and pick up in your local LloydsPharmacy the same day.