7 Myths About The Morning After Pill

No, it's not the same as an abortion.

09/05/2016 17:03 | Updated 17 May 2016

On Monday a report revealed that the morning after pill costs up to five times more for women in Britain than other areas of Europe.

Cue confusion, because the last time we checked you can get emergency contraception for free in the UK - if you know where to look

The idea that the morning after pill is unaffordable is a misconception, which got us thinking about other emergency contraception myths that need busting...

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Myth #1: It's only available from your GP

Fact: The morning after pill is available both on prescription from your GP and over the counter from most local pharmacies.

"You can also access it from your A&E department," explains Dr Helen Webberley, the dedicated GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy. 

"Many people choose to use online doctor services linked to pharmacies as it often costs less, as well as being more discreet and convenient."

Myth #2: The morning after pill is expensive

Fact: While the price of the morning after pill ranges from £25-£30 at most pharmacies, the majority of sexual health clinics and GP surgeries will offer emergency contraception for free.

Check out our article on 'Where To Get The Morning After Pill For Free' for more details.

Myth #3: You have to be 16 to get it

Fact: The age of consent may be 16 in the UK, but people under the age of 16 can get emergency contraception. 

"There is no lower age limit on getting the morning after pill, as long as the person is deemed 'competent' to make medical decisions about their health," Dr Webberley says.

Myth #4: You have to take it very soon after having sex

Fact: According to the NHS, there are two kinds of emergency contraceptive pill. Levonelle has to be taken within 72 hours (three days) of sex, and ellaOne has to be taken within 120 hours (five days) of sex. 

However, it is advisable to take emergency contraception as soon as you are able to. 

Myth #5: You can only take the morning after pill twice in 12 months

Fact: There is no limit to the number of times you can take the emergency contraceptive pill during a lifetime.

However, according to sexual health charity Brook depending on which pill you have taken, there are restrictions on how many times you can take it during a single menstrual cycle.

Levonelle can be taken as many times as you need to in your menstrual cycle, but ellaOne cannot be used more than once per menstrual cycle, or in the same cycle as taking Levonelle.

However some pharmacists will not issue the morning after pill twice in the same month because they have special licensing laws.

Dr Webberley also insists the progesterone-only emergency pill is "very safe".

Myth #6: Emergency contraception only comes in pill form

Fact: While the morning after pill may be the most well-known form of emergency contraception, you can also have an IUD or coil fitted to prevent pregnancy. 

According to the NHS, the IUD can be inserted into your uterus up to five days after unprotected sex, or up to five days after the earliest time you could have ovulated.

"The coil is good because it then goes on to act as a contraceptive for the next 10 years if needed," Dr Webberley adds.

Myth #7: It is the same as having an abortion 

Fact: "Abortion occurs after implantation has taken place. Emergency contraception is designed to prevent ovulation, if it has not already occurred," Dr Webberley explains.

"It then also has a back-up of preventing fertilisation and implantation. It is not intended to affect a fertilised egg that has already implanted, so it is not an abortion." 

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