The emergency contraceptive pill (EC), sometimes known as The Morning After pill, is available from a pharmacy or chemist without a prescription. In Queensland if you are under 16 you may need to get a prescription from a GP, or go to a reproductive and sexual health clinic, or the emergency department of your local hospital.
It is important that you go the pharmacy as soon as possible, as EC is only effective up to 5 days after sex where no contraception was used or when contraception has failed, such as a condom broke or slipped off. The sooner you take EC the more effective it will be in preventing a pregnancy.
At the pharmacy you will need to ask to speak to a pharmacist and tell them you would like to purchase Emergency Contraception. They will ask you some questions to make sure that taking the EC will be useful and not harmful to you. You can ask to talk somewhere private with a pharmacist. Lots of people use emergency contraception, so they will be used to talking to people about it. You can ask the pharmacist questions about how it works.
Some of the things that the pharmacist may ask you include:
- contraception that you use
- when your last menstrual bleed was
- how long since you had unprotected sex (how many days or hours?)
- other medications or herbal supplements you might be taking
- other medical conditions you might have
- if you are in Queensland they might ask your age. If you are under 16 you will need to get a prescription from a GP.
If it is more than 5 days since unprotected sex, the pharmacist will not provide EC to you because it will not work.
If the pharmacist does not have EC in stock, does not have enough information to determine if EC will be effective, does not want to supply it for their own religious reasons, or the use of EC is unlikely to be effective, they should refer you to a GP, sexual health clinic or emergency department in a hospital.
Questions you might like to ask
It is important that you feel confident making a decision. Some questions you might like to ask the pharmacist include:
- Are there any side effects to this medication?
- How do I need to take it?
- Will it affect my menstrual or uterine bleeding?
- Do I need to use any other forms of contraception in the next week?
- How much does it cost?
Can someone else get EC for me?
If someone else goes to the pharmacy to get Emergency Contraception (such as parent, partner or friend) the pharmacist will still ask them questions (or ask to speak with you on the phone) to make sure that EC will be useful and not harmful. It can be difficult for the pharmacist to make a decision to supply EC because they need to make sure that the person who will be taking it understands how it works, any side effects and whether it is their decision (not someone else’s) to take EC. If the pharmacist does not have enough information to make a decision to supply EC they should refer you to a GP, sexual health clinic or emergency department in a hospital.
A pharmacist might need to document some of the information from your conversation for their records. You can ask them what personal information about you will be recorded.
Pharmacists need to respect your privacy and will keep information about you confidential. This means that they cannot tell other people, including family members or teachers, about giving you EC, or any other medicines you are taking.
Visiting a GP or reproductive and sexual health clinic
If you have used EC from the pharmacy it can still be a good idea to see a GP too. This is because you might need to have a STI check and you can also talk about future contraceptive use.
If, after 3 weeks of taking EC, you have not had any menstrual bleeding you might also need to take a pregnancy test.