Emergency Contraception Service

If you think you might need emergency contraception, call in for a private consultation to help you decide on the next steps

Who is the Emergency Contraception Service suitable for?

If you’re worried your regular contraception has let you down, or you’ve had unprotected sex in the last 120 hours (five days), our Emergency Contraception Service may be suitable for you.

Emergency contraception medication is not suitable if you:

• Are already pregnant

• Had unprotected sex more than 120 hours (five days) ago

• Are allergic to any of the ingredients in the medication

• Have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications

In such cases there may be other options that are more suitable for you. Your Boots pharmacist will be able to give you more information and help you decide on the best option for you. 

What emergency contraception options are there?

There are different emergency contraception options for different situations. One type of medication, called Levonorgestrel 1.5mg, can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, whereas another, called ellaOne (Ulipristal Acetate) 30mg, can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex. Both of these medicines are available at Boots pharmacies and are more effective the earlier you take them. It’s important to bear in mind that emergency contraception medication is not 100 percent effective. Another form of emergency contraception is the copper IUD (intrauterine device) or coil, which can be fitted up to five days after you’ve had unprotected sex. This is considered the most effective method of emergency contraception. You can get this from certain specially trained doctors or family planning clinics.

How do I get emergency contraception from Boots?

You’ll need to call into your local Boots pharmacy and have a private consultation with a pharmacist. During the consultation the pharmacist will ask you a number of questions to determine whether emergency contraception medication is suitable for you*. If it’s suitable you’ll be given the medication, which only needs to be taken as a single dose. You’ll also be given a Patient Information Leaflet, which you should read carefully.

Side effects of emergency contraception

Some people may notice some side effects after they’ve taken the emergency contraception medicine. These don’t affect everyone, and some are more common than others. Side effects include:

• Feeling sick
• Headaches
• Some irregular bleeding until your next period
• Painful periods
• Abdominal pain
• Tiredness
• Vomiting
• Breast tenderness
• Diarrhoea
• Feeling dizzy

You’ll be given a leaflet with your medicine which will provide more information about further possible side effects, including less common and rare side effects. 

How much does the Emergency Contraception Service cost?

If you are aged 17 to 26 years or have a Medical Card, the Emergency Contraception Service is available free of charge in Boots pharmacies. For other customers, a private fee will apply. For further information on the HSE free contraception scheme visit the HSE sexual wellbeing site.

Presentation of a valid PPSN where aged 17 to 26 years or a medical card if aged over 26 years is required to receive the service free of charge. Eligibility criteria apply. Subject to availability. Ask your Boots pharmacist for details.

*Ask your Boots pharmacist for details. Eligibility criteria apply. Fee may apply.

†Presentation of a valid medical card is required to receive the service free of charge. Eligibility criteria apply. Subject to availability. Ask your Boots pharmacist for details.