Emergency contraception or the morning after pill

If you’ve had unprotected sex, or had a condom break, and are worried about getting pregnant, don’t panic, Louna’s Lowdown on Emergency Contraception explains what to do. 

This short video explains everything you need to know about emergency contraception, like the morning after pill, that is available over the counter from a pharmacist.

The video was made by the Royal Women’s Hospital with Louna Maroun to inform teenagers about this safe, effective form of contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.

Condom broke? Forgot to take the pill? Had unprotected sex?

If you have had unprotected sex or a broken condom, an emergency pill can prevent a pregnancy from starting. It must be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of having sex and is more effective the sooner you take it.  

How to take emergency contraception

The most common method of emergency contraception consists of either one pill, or two pills taken together. This method prevents about 85 per cent of expected pregnancies.

The emergency pill was once called the 'morning after pill'. All emergency contraceptives are more effective the sooner they are taken after unprotected sex.

There are other emergency contraceptives that consist of multiple combined contraceptive pills. These are no longer recommended because they are less effective and have more side effects. 

Possible side effects of emergency contraception

Side effects are uncommon but some women get nausea or vaginal spotting.

Where to get emergency contraceptives

You can get the emergency pill from your local  pharmacist. The pharmacist may ask about your usual means of contraception, your reason for needing emergency contraception, the hours since you had unprotected sex and information about your menstrual cycle. These and other questions are to ensure that emergency contraception is safe for you. Pharmacists ask questions when dispensing many kinds of medicine, not just emergency contraception. 

Find out more about getting emergency contraception from a pharmacy.

You can also go to a family planning clinic or a GP to get a prescription.

Where to get more information about emergency contraception

  • Your local pharmacist
  • Your local doctor (GP)
  • Your local community health centre
  • Women’s Welcome Centre (Victoria only)
    Tel: (03) 8345 3037 or 1800 442 007 (rural callers)

Information about emergency contraception is also available in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese – see Related Health Topics below


The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.