Following unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, emergency contraception is an option for women to avoid unplanned pregnancy.
In Australia, there are 2 types of emergency contraception available:
- The copper intrauterine device (IUD) is the most effective emergency contraceptive. It can be inserted up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex and provides long lasting and effective long-term protection.
- Emergency contraceptive pills (also known as the morning after pill or ECP) may stop a pregnancy before it starts by preventing or delaying the release of an egg from the ovaries.
There are 2 kinds of ‘morning after pill’ available in Australia and both must be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
- One can be used up to 72 hours (3 days) afterwards. It is available over-the-counter without a prescription at a pharmacy.
- The other is a new type of morning after pill that can be used up to 120 hours (5 days) afterwards. It can also be bought without a prescription at a pharmacy. Australia currently has highly limited availability of this option, so it may be difficult to obtain.
It’s important to remember that emergency contraceptive pills may only work up to 72 and 120 hours after engaging in unprotected sex, depending on which one you take, with the effectiveness decreasing after the first 24 hours.
Please speak to your doctor or pharmacist for more information or you can ask about advance supply at your next Marie Stopes appointment – so that you’re always prepared.
Morning after pill cost
Both types of morning after pill are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy without a prescription and cost between $15 and $45, depending on the type and brand.
Australia currently has highly limited availability of the 120 hour emergency contraception option, so it may be difficult to obtain.