If you’re a sexually active person, there will probably come a time when you need to know how to get the morning after pill.
Whether the condom broke, you forgot to use protection, or there was a more serious incident like a sexual assault, the morning after pill will protect you against the risk of getting pregnant.
However, buying emergency contraception can feel quite overwhelming and confusing when you're in the moment, and a million questions may run through your mind. We're here to answer them all and make sure you feel prepared when (and if) the time comes.
Help! How do I get the morning after pill?
You can get the morning after pill from over-the-counter pharmacies without a prescription in Australia. The exception to this is if you’re under 16, in which case you may need a prescription.
If you’re wondering how to get it on short notice, the process is exactly the same: you simply go into a pharmacy and ask for emergency contraception.
Where can I get it?
You can get the emergency contraception pill from a number of places in Australia, including:
- A doctor
- A pharmacy
- A sexual health clinic
- A family planning centre
When should emergency contraceptive pills be used?
There are a number of situations that might cause you to consider the morning after pill, which include:
- You had unprotected sex and want to protect yourself against unwanted pregnancy
- You missed your contraceptive pill and want to prevent pregnancy
- You have been vomiting or have diarrhoea, which may stop your usual contraceptive pills from working
- You were the victim of a sexual assault
- Your condom split or fell off during sex
Who can get the morning after pill?
No matter how old you are or what the situation is, any woman can walk into a pharmacy and ask for the morning after pill — the most important thing is that you do so as soon as you can for the highest effectiveness.
There, you will be asked a series of questions to determine how suitable the medication is for you (which we'll get to shortly).
If it’s right for you, you will be able to buy the morning after pill over the counter immediately and your risk of unwanted pregnancy will be lower than if you allow time to pass.
Pharmacists are, however, able to decline your requests for the morning after pill on grounds of safety and other reasons such as religious beliefs. If they do decline your access for reasons other than your well-being and safety, they must send you to another clinic or pharmacy that will sell you the morning after pill.
Can men get the morning after pill in Australia?
The short answer is no.
Although men can accompany their partner to the doctor or pharmacy and even purchase the medication, they will not be able to get it alone without their partner present.
This is because the pharmacist or doctor will need to speak to the woman, so they can confirm she is aware of the side effects and outcomes of the medication, check that it won’t interfere with any other medication, and make sure that she's protected from being coerced into taking the morning after pill.
For that same reason, women should not try and get the morning after pill for other women. Doing so opens up a range of possibly dangerous events occurring.
What questions do they ask when you get the morning after pill?
The kind of questions that you may be asked include:
- Why do you need the morning after pill?
- Do you use contraception normally?
- When did you last have unprotected sex?
- Have you started your period?
- Were you a victim of sexual assault?
- Are you pregnant?
- What medications are you taking?
- Do you have any health symptoms or underlying health conditions?
The types of morning after pill
In Australia, you can get 2 types of emergency contraception pills. They both work by delaying the release of an egg from the ovaries which stops pregnancy before it starts — but what sets them apart?
The first kind of morning after pill is called LNG-ECP — or levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pill — and is a single dose of levonorgestrel. It can be taken up to 72 hours or 3 days after unprotected sex, though it is more effective the earlier it is used.
The second kind of morning after pill that you can get is the UPA, which is a single dose of ulipristal acetate that can be used up to 120 hours or 5 days after unprotected sex.
This option is less readily available, so it is recommended to visit a pharmacy, clinic, or doctor as soon as you realise you have had unprotected sex.
How much does it cost?
Both the LNG-ECP and the UPA are available over the counter in Australia and will cost somewhere between $15-$45 . This varies depending on the brand and the type of pill you are taking.
I’ve taken the morning after pill, what do I do now?
Firstly, well done. You got the morning after pill in an emergency and have covered yourself from unwanted pregnancy.
Common side effects of emergency contraception that you may experience include nausea, breast pain, headaches, and spotting. These typically stop after 48 hours or so, but if you are worried, it's best to see a doctor.
Keep in mind that emergency contraception works by preventing or delaying ovulation. It doesn't prevent implantation, nor does it cause the abortion of an existing pregnancy.
While it’s great that you managed to protect yourself on this occasion, you may want to consider a more reliable and consistent type of contraceptive protection.
Kin's contraceptive pill subscription makes preventing pregnancy easy, with contraception discreetly delivered to your door 2 weeks before you run out (or earlier if you prefer). This means no more trips to the chemist to get the morning after pill, or your usual contraceptive pill. Simply fill in our online questionnaire to get started.
Want to learn more about your options before you get on the pill? Take a look at our comprehensive guide to the contraceptive pill.
If you have been sexually assaulted, it's important that you speak to someone you trust. There are helplines across the country where you can report the incident and get the help you need.