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Preventing unwanted pregnancy: emergency contraception

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Unwanted contraception presents several challenges Unwanted contraception presents several challenges

Contraceptive counselling should be individualised to the woman and her needs by taking a thorough medical history. Efficacy, risks and benefits must be discussed to ensure understanding. The UK Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (UKMEC) may be consulted. The risk of sexually transmitted infections may need to be considered and this is particularly important in young people. Emergency hormonal contraception can be obtained from pharmacies, general practitioners and sexual health clinics.

In those under the age of 16, it is helpful to assess competence to consent to treatment. In these cases, the Fraser guidelines are a useful resource. It might be relevant to advise a young person of the law in relation to sexual activity.

Emergency contraception can be required due to a failure of a barrier method; drug interaction; failing to take additional precautions where appropriate; because pills have been missed or a method of contraception was not used during intercourse.

Hormonal contraception

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