Health and Wellbeing

Have you had unprotected sex?

Help that's available immediately following unprotected sex

Emergency Contraception

Emergency Contraception can be taken after unprotected sex (condom split, missed pill, didn't use any contraception) and can prevent pregnancy.

It is sometimes called the "morning after pill" but can be taken up to 72 hours (three days) or 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex, depending on the method used.

There are three different forms of emergency contraception:

  • Within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex you can use Levonelle (pill). 
    Available from your GP, pharmacies (sometimes there is a charge), SHAC services and A&E
  • Within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex you can use ellaOne (pill) or an emergency IUD (coil). 
    Available from SHAC services and A&E

The sooner emergency contraception is taken after unprotected sex, the more likely it is to be effective at preventing pregnancy, so you should access it as soon as possible.

Visit the SHAC Website to find out about the different SHAC services, where you can access emergency contraception (Levonelle, ellaOne and emergency IUD) and a list of places that offer free emergency contraception to under 25's


PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) 

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a treatment that can prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered a person's body.

PEP can stop HIV infection after the virus has entered the body:

  • PEP is an emergency measure to be used as a last resort, eg if a condom breaks or you have a ‘slip up’ from your usual safer sex routine
  • PEP is a combination of powerful drugs and can be hard to get hold of, so it is no substitute for condoms, but it’s important to know about in case one day you or someone you’ve had sex with needs it
  • PEP is not guaranteed to always work but has a high success rate
  • It is free of charge but can only be prescribed by doctors and if certain criteria are met

When does PEP need to be taken?

PEP must be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of exposure to HIV, but the sooner it is taken the more likely it is to work - within 24 hours is best

Where can I get PEP?

PEP is available from sexual health services and A&E

Visit the SHAC Website to find out about the different SHAC services, where you can access PEP

What to do following unprotected sex

Unprotected sex (sex whithout using a condom, vaginal condom or dam; condom split; missed pill; didn't use any contraception) can result in STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and unwanted pregnancy.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Following unprotected sex you should have a full sexual health check-up. Some STIs do not show up immediately following sex, so it is best to wait 2 weeks before having a check-up. 

You can find information about sexual health check-ups on the wellbeing web pages


If you have had unprotected sex within the last 120 hours (5 days) and you want to avoid pregnancy then you can access emergency contraception

You can find more information about pregnancy on the wellbeing web pages 

Planning for the future

For more information about sexual health, relationships and contraception visit the wellbeing web pages

Sexual assault

CLICK HERE if you are looking for help following a sexual assault