Sexual Health Awareness Week 2014
It's Sexual Health Awareness Week from 15 to 21 September, and this year we're talking about emergency contraception.
Not everything in life always goes according to plan, and that includes contraception. Whether a usual method of contraception fails, or just gets forgotten, it's good to know that it's not too late to do something about it afterwards.
Emergency contraception can be effective up to five days after sex – although it's best to take it as soon as possible. There are two different types – the emergency contraceptive pill (often called the morning after pill) and an intrauterine device (IUD). The morning after pill works by delaying ovulation (the release of an egg). An IUD works by preventing an egg from being fertilised or implanting in your womb. Emergency contraception does not cause an abortion.
Emergency contraception is available on the NHS for free. Your GP practice, contraception clinic, sexual health clinic, genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic and some young people's clinics can provide both the morning after pill and IUDs. Most pharmacies, and some NHS walk in centres and urgent care centres, can provide the morning after pill for free.
Local GP Dr Marc Rowland, Chair of NHS Lewisham CCG, said: "If your usual method of contraception fails, or you forget to use it, the important thing is not to panic or ignore it. Emergency contraception is available free and in confidence from a variety of NHS services near you. Depending on the type of emergency contraception and how soon you take it, it can be up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy."
It's important to remember though that emergency contraception only prevents you from becoming pregnant - it doesn't protect you against sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhoea or HIV.
You can find out more about the different types of emergency contraception on the NHS Choices website. You can also find your nearest NHS service offering emergency contraception.
Sexual Health Awareness Week is coordinated by FPA, a sexual health charity that gives give straightforward information, advice and support on sexual health, sex and relationships to everyone in the UK. To find out more, visit their website.