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Adults » Emergency Contraception » FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions

How do emergency pills work

They prevent ovulation and fertilisation by altering the transport of the sperm and/or ova. They also bring about changes and discourage implantation of the egg in the lining of the womb.

How effective are the pills?

The earlier they are taken the more effective they are.
Overall it is 86% effective but:

Interval Percentage of Expected Pregnancies Prevented
24 hrs or less:   95%
25 - 48 hrs: 85%
49 - 72 hrs: 58%

Where can I get hormonal contraception?

  • Any GP who provides emergency contraception services.
  • Any Sexual Health Clinic
  • Any C2U Clinic
  • Accident and Emergency (Dumfries Infirmary/ Stranraer / Newton Stewart / Castle Douglas / Kirkcudbright & Moffat)
  • All Chemists except:
    Bowmans (Dalbeattie). Moss (Thornhill). Northern Chemist (Lincluden). Lochthorn Pharmacy (Dumfries). Lloyds (Stranraer).

Can emergency pills fail?

Emergency pills are very effective and should be taken as soon after unprotected sex as possible. They are most effective if they are taken within 24 hours, They are most likly to fail if:

  • They are taken more than 72 hours after unprotected sex
  • You vomit within 2 hours of taking the pills
  • You have had unprotected sex at another time since your last period
  • You have unprotected sex after taking the pills

If the pills fail will they harm the baby?

There is no evidence to suggest that emergency pills affect the pregnancy or harm the baby.

How does the IUD work?

It may stop an egg being fertilised or implanted in your womb.

How effective is the IUD?

Almost 100%. It can also provide long term contraception if you want.

Is emergency contraception an abortion?

Emergency contraception may:

  • stop ovulation
  • stop fertilisation of an egg
  • prevent a fertilised egg being implanted in the womb.

Medical and legal opinions are quite clear that an abortion can only take place once implantation of a fertilised egg has occured.
People who believe that life begins when the egg is fertilised may not wish to use these methods.