Can you get the morning after pill in advance?
Reviewed by our clinical team - 23.8.22
The morning after pill is a type of emergency contraception i.e. it’s birth control you can use after you’ve had unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.
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.
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 HSE 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, going to a contraception clinic or going to a pharmacy. You can also get the morning after pill online 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.
Using the morning after pill correctly
To be effective, the morning after pill needs to be taken in the first few days after unprotected sex – and preferably as soon as possible.
- If you use Levonorgestrel (generic Prevenelle or Norlevo), you’ll need to take it within 72 hours (three days) of unprotected sex - the sooner the better
- If you use ellaOne, you’ll need to take it within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected sex
If you throw up in the first few hours after taking the morning after pill you should speak to your GP or pharmacist, as you’ll probably need to take another one.
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
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 family planning clinics. 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 up to 10 years.