Emergency Contraceptive Pills

The emergency contraceptive pill (“morning after pill”) is a pill that you can take after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.

The pills are available directly from a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription to women over 17 years of age.

Since July 2017 the emergency contraception service has been available free of charge to medical card holders.

Things to Know

  • You must take it within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
  • The earlier you take it within the 72 hours, the more effective it will be.
  • If you vomit within 3 hours of taking the emergency pill, return to the doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible for a second dose or other advice.
  • Taking different kinds of the emergency pill during the same cycle is not recommended as they work in different ways. If you need a second dose during your cycle, you must use the same emergency pill as your first dosage.
  • Use other methods of contraception after taking the emergency contraception pill as it does not provide contraception for the remainder of your cycle. In fact, if ovulation is only delayed, you could well be fertile in the following weeks.
  • Be aware that there is a small risk of failure and you may still become pregnant.
  • Emergency contraceptive pills do not provide protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
  • Emergency contraception is for emergencies only and is not a substitute for contraception.

An emergency contraceptive pill might not be for you, if:

  • Too much time has passed for the medicine to be effective.
  • You are taking other medicines that interact with emergency contraception.
  • You have an existing medical condition that means it is not safe to take emergency contraception.
  • Your last period was irregular in some way.