COVID-19 and emergency contraception
Updated 24th Feb 2022 - for the most up to date coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance and information, please visit the NHS or government’s dedicated pages. This advice may differ in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to NHS clinics and GP surgeries changing their opening hours, reducing their number of daily appointments, and – in some cases – closing altogether. This means many sexual health and contraception services have become less accessible.
The good news is that emergency contraception is still available on the NHS. This means you will still be able to get hold of the morning after pill for free. Some services are also offering the option of having the emergency coil (IUD) fitted, as this is the most effective form of emergency contraception.
If you recently had unprotected sex and do not want to get pregnant, you should obtain emergency contraception as soon as possible, bearing in mind the following:
- The emergency coil can be used as ongoing contraception
- The morning after pill is not designed for regular use, or as a substitute for routine contraception such as the combined pill
If you need routine contraception, click here to read our guide to obtaining this during the pandemic. You can order routine contraception directly from our online clinic.
How to get the morning after pill during the pandemic
Emergency contraception is available on the NHS from a number of different services, including family planning clinics and GP surgeries. It’s also available from high street pharmacies and through trusted online services such as LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.
Throughout the pandemic your local NHS services may have changed their opening hours or switched to an appointment-only system. This means that walk-in services are typically not available. Now restrictions are easing, it's still best to ring the clinic or service ahead of turning up, to make sure they're open.
After contacting the service, you will likely be offered a telephone or video consultation. During this, the doctor or nurse will ask questions to ensure you receive the correct type of emergency contraception to suit your needs.
You may be able to attend the clinic in person to have an emergency coil (IUD) fitted. This is the most effective form of emergency contraception and can be effective in preventing pregnancy up to five days after unprotected sex. If your service is not able to provide a face-to-face appointment, or if the coil is not required, you will be given a prescription for the morning after pill instead.
Where can I get emergency contraception?
You should be able to get the morning after pill (and possibly the emergency coil) for free from the following places:
- Contraception clinics
- Brook centres
- Most sexual health or GUM clinics
- Most GP surgeries
You can also get the morning after pill for free from certain high street pharmacies.
You can also purchase the emergency contraceptive pill from your local pharmacy, or through our trusted online morning after pill clinic.
Our service involves filling out a short, confidential consultation, which is then reviewed by one of our clinicians. If suitable, they will help you choose the best emergency contraceptive pill for your needs, process the payment, and make the pill available to collect that same day from your local LloydsPharmacy.
Which is the best emergency contraception?
The most effective form of emergency contraception is the emergency coil, however the morning after pill is a good alternative. There are two types of emergency contraceptive pill offered by our online clinic: ellaOne and Levonorgestrel.
ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate, and must be taken within 120 hours, or five days, of unprotected sex. Levonorgestrel (commonly branded as Levonelle) must be taken within 72 hours, or three days, of unprotected sex. Of the two, ellaOne is more effective.
Both are designed for one-off use, which means they will protect you from pregnancy after one instance of unprotected sex. Neither should be used on a regular basis, or as a substitute for routine contraception.
Which pill you use will depend upon factors such as:
- How recent was the unprotected sex
- Other prescription medication(s) that might interact with the emergency contraceptive pill
- Whether you’re breastfeeding
Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will always recommend the pill that is best suited to your needs, so don't worry about having to make the decision on your own.
Can I still get the emergency coil?
Yes, some clinics and GP surgeries are still offering this service. To find out if it’s available, please contact your local clinic by phone or email.