Emergency contraception is a safe, effective and responsible method of preventing pregnancy when regular contraception has failed, no contraception was used, and/or in the case of sexual assault. If you act quickly, emergency contraception will usually prevent pregnancy.
Emergency contraceptive pills are available in two forms in Ireland: the progesterone emergency contraceptive pill (mainly Norlevo and Prevenelle) and the ulipristal emergency contraceptive pill (ellaOne). Both act by preventing or delaying ovulation, preventing fertilisation.
The progesterone emergency contraceptive pill can be taken up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex, while the ulipristal emergency contraceptive pill can be taken up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex. However both methods are more effective the sooner they are taken.
The ulipristal emergency contraceptive pill (ellaOne) is the most effective emergency contraceptive pill available.
The progesterone and ulipristal emergency contraceptive pill are both available from pharmacies without a medical prescription, or from a doctor or family planning clinic. Both methods are available on a medical card.
In some cases an intrauterine copper device (IUCD) is more suitable. This can be fitted as emergency contraception by a family planning clinic or trained doctor up to five days after unprotected sex. The IUCD is available on a medical card.
Medical update: Recent research suggests that the emergency contraceptive pill may be less effective in women whose weight exceeds 75kg. However a recent review by the European Medicines Agency has found insufficient evidence to support this lack of efficacy. If you have any queries about emergency contraception and weight, please contact one of our medical clinics or your local doctor or family planning clinic.
The IFPA offers a same-day emergency contraception service at our two clinics in Dublin. The consultation will take 10-15 minutes during which the doctor will administer the emergency contraceptive pill to you.
Please note that this service depends on the availability of a doctor at the time you present to the clinic. If an appointment is not immediately available, you will be given the option to wait or to return to the clinic at the next available time. Where possible, all emergency contraception appointments are provided the same day.
The IFPA also offers the IUCD as a form of emergency contraception. Please phone ahead to make an appointment as it may not be possible to have an IUCD fitted the same day.
Emergency contraception will not prevent you from getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Most STIs are treatable, but often have no symptoms. If you have had unprotected sex, you should have an STI screening.