If you’re a sexually active female 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.
If you’re in the position of needing emergency contraception it can be hard to know where to turn.
With so many questions running through your mind, it can feel overwhelming and confusing in the moment, so it’s good to know how to get the morning after pill beforehand in the event of an emergency.Start an online consult
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 the morning after pill on short notice, you can get it by going into a pharmacy and asking for emergency contraception. It really is that simple.
No matter how old you are or what the situation is, you can go to a pharmacy and ask for the morning after pill and they will ask you a series of questions to determine your suitability for the medication.
Where can I get the morning after pill?
You can get the morning after pill from a number of places in Australia, including:
- A doctor
- A pharmacy
- A sexual health clinic
- A family planning centre
When should the morning after pill be used?
Now you know how to get the morning after pill, it’s essential to know when to use it.
There are a number of situations that might cause you to consider emergency contraception, these include:
- You had unprotected sex and want to protect yourself against unwanted pregnancy
- You missed your contraceptive pill and want to protect yourself against unwanted pregnancy
- You have been vomiting or have diarrhoea, which may prevent your normal contraceptive pill from working
- You were the victim of a sexual assault
- Your condom split or fell off during sex
How to get the morning after pill: who can get it?
No matter how old you are, any woman can walk into a pharmacy and ask for the morning after pill.
Many women worry about how to get the morning after pill, but you don't need to stress too much. The crucial thing is that you get to the pharmacy as soon as possible – then you will be asked a series of questions to determine how suitable the medication is for you.
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 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 you access for reasons other than your wellbeing and safety, they must send you to another clinic or pharmacy who will sell you the morning after pill.
What questions do they ask when you get the morning after pill?
The kinds of questions that you may be asked when you go to get the morning after pill 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 medication are you taking?
- Do you have any health symptoms or underlying health conditions?
How to get the morning after pill as a man in Australia
If you’re a man wondering how to get the morning after pill for your partner, it is not possible in Australia.
Although you can accompany your partner to the doctor or pharmacy and even purchase the medication, you will not be able to get it alone without your partner present.
Men cannot get the morning after pill in Australia because the pharmacist or doctor will need to speak to the woman. This is so the pharmacist can check she is aware of the side effects and outcomes of the medication, can check it won’t interfere with any other medication, and that she is protected from being coerced into taking the morning after pill.
Men should not try to get the morning after pill alone in Australia.
Similarly, women should not try and get the morning after pill for other women, as they will need to answer questions that are specific to the woman taking the medication. Doing this opens up a range of possibly dangerous events occurring.
How to get both types of morning after pill
You can get two types of morning after pill from a pharmacy in Australia. They work by delaying the release of an egg from the ovaries which stops pregnancy before it starts.
The first kind of morning after pill is called LNG-ECP and is a single dose of levonorgestrel. It can be taken up to 72 hours or 3 days after unprotected sex, however it is more effective the earlier it is used.
The second kind of morning after pill that you can get in Australia 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 is available over the counter in Australia, and will cost somewhere between $15-$45. This varies depending on 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.
While it’s great that you managed to protect yourself on this occasion, you may want to consider a more reliable and consistent contraceptive that will protect you from unwanted pregnancy in future.
Common side effects of emergency contraception include nausea, breast pain, headaches and spotting. These typically stop after 48hrs or so. If you are worried, it's best to see a doctor.
Emergency contraception works by preventing or delaying ovulation. It doesn't prevent implantation, nor does it cause abortion of an existing pregnancy
To learn more about your options, take a look at our guide to the contraceptive pill.
- The Morning After Pill. Reach Out Australia, 2020.
- Emergency Contraception. Marie Stopes Australia, 2020.
- 'Morning After' pill (emergency contraception pill, Health Direct Australia. 2020.