Booking Line: 01904 721111

Monkgate Health Centre        
31 Monkgate
YO31 7WA  
Heatherdene Centre for Sexual Health
Harrogate & District Foundation Trust
Lancaster Park Road

This is a combined STI & contraceptive service

Emergency contraception – morning after pill & IUD: Emergency contraception can be used if you have had unprotected sex or if you think that your method of contraception may have failed. It may prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation, fertilisation or implantation.

There are two types of emergency contraceptive pill, or morning after pill; Levonelle, which must be taken by the woman within 72 hours (3 days) of sex, and ellaOne, which must be taken within 120 hours (5 days) of sex. Both pills work by preventing or delaying ovulation. The morning after pill can be up to 95% effective if taken within 24 hours of sex; it becomes less effective the longer you leave before taking it.

The other option for emergency contraception is the IUD (intra-uterine device), or coil; see the specific section below about this device for more details. The IUD can be inserted into the woman’s womb up to 5 days after sex and can left in to be used as the regular form of contraception. It can be more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, more so than the morning after pill.

You can get both forms of emergency contraception for FREE from GP surgeries, contraception clinics, young person’s clinics, sexual health clinics and GUM clinics. You can also get the emergency pill FREE from NHS walk-in centres, some pharmacies, NHS minor injuries units and some hospital A&E departments. We have provided the contact details for our local YOR Clinics above. You can find more clinics near you using the following link:

Natural family planning: Natural family planning is a method which teaches you at what time of the month you can have sex without getting pregnant. It must be learned from a specialist teacher. It involves learning to record your fertility signals and plot at which time of the month you are fertile and which time you are not. Depending which methods of natural family planning are used, it can be up to 99% effective.

Condoms – male & female: There are two types of condoms, male condoms which are worn on the man’s penis, and female condoms which are worn inside the woman’s vagina. If used correctly, they can help protect against many STIs as well as preventing pregnancy. They work as a barrier by stopping sperm from entering the vagina. If used correctly, male condoms are up to 98% effective and female condoms are up to 95% effective.

Diaphragm & cervical cap: The diaphragm and cervical cap are both barrier methods of contraception which are inserted into the woman’s vagina prior to sex. They both work by preventing sperm from entering the cervix but must be used with spermicide to be effective. They come in different shapes and sizes and need to be fitted by a trained professional. They are reusable, though must be washed after each use. The diaphragm is bigger than the cap and more widely used. The cap is usually given to women when a diaphragm may not fit correctly. When fitted and used correctly, both methods are 92-96% effective.

The Pill – combined & progestogen-only: There are two types of contraceptive pill. The combined pill contains the female hormones oestrogen and progestogen. It is taken by the woman every day for 21 days and then there is a break for 7 days in which she has period-type bleeding. It works by preventing the ovaries from producing eggs, thickening the mucus in the neck of the womb to make it harder for sperm to enter, and thinning the lining of the womb to make implantation of a fertilised egg difficult.

The progestogen-only pill does not contain oestrogen, so it can be taken by women who are unable to take the combined pill for health reasons. It is taken by the woman every day without a break, and works by thickening the mucus of the womb opening to prevent sperm from entering. Some types also prevent ovulation. Both types of pill are more than 99% effective when used correctly.

Contraceptive patch: The contraceptive patch is a sticky patch which the woman sticks onto her skin. It releases the same hormones as the combined pill and works in the same way. One patch is applied on the first day of bleeding during menstruation and is left on for a week. It is then removed and a new patch applied each week for three weeks, then there is a break for one week, again like the combined pill. The patch is more than 99% effective when used correctly.

Vaginal ring: The vaginal ring is a small soft plastic ring which is inserted into the women’s vagina. Like the combined pill and contraceptive patch, it contains oestrogen and progestogen and prevents pregnancy in the same way. It is left in the vagina for 21 days then disposed of. After a seven day break, a new ring is inserted. Used correctly, it is more than 99% effective.

Contraceptive injection: There are two types of contraceptive injection for women; Depo-Provera that lasts for 12 weeks and Noristerat that lasts for 8 weeks. They contain the hormone progestogen and, like the progestogen-only pill, they work by thickening the mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm entering the womb, and thinning the womb lining to prevent implantation. Some can prevent the release of an egg too. The injection is given into the muscle of the bottom or upper arm by a medical professional and is more than 99% effective.

Contraceptive implant: The contraceptive implant is a small flexible tube that is inserted by a trained professional under the skin of the upper arm in a woman. It contains progestogen, which it slowly releases into the system to prevent the release of an egg into the womb, thicken the mucus of the cervix and thin the womb lining. It lasts for three years and is more than 99% effective if implanted correctly.

IUD (intra-uterine device) & IUS (intra-uterine system): The IUD, or coil, is a small T-shaped device made of plastic and copper. It is inserted into the woman’s womb by a trained professional and can remain there for 5-10 years, depending on type. It can also be taken out at any time if required. The IUD works by releasing copper into the womb and changing the make-up of its fluids, stopping sperm from being able to survive there.

The IUS is the same shape as the IUD but contains progestogen instead of copper. It slowly releases the progestogen in the same way as the implant and lasts for five years. It also can be removed at any time. Both these methods of contraception are more than 99% effective if inserted correctly.

Sterilisation – female & male (vasectomy):  Female sterilisation involves blocking or sealing the fallopian tubes which carry eggs from the woman’s ovaries to her womb. This means that the eggs will not reach the sperm so cannot become fertilised. The procedure is usually done under general anaesthetic but can be done under local anaesthetic, depending on the method used. It is more than 99% effective but should only be done if the woman does not plan on having children in the future.

Male sterilisation is called vasectomy and is a minor operation which involves cutting, sealing or blocking the tubes which carry sperm from a man’s testicles to his penis. This prevents sperm entering his semen, which means that when he ejaculates into a woman’s vagina, there are no sperm there to fertilise the egg. The procedure is done under local anaesthetic and takes about 15 minutes. This method is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy but reversal is not guaranteed so it should only be used if the man does not plan on having children in the future.


All methods of contraception have pros and cons, and some can have side effects, so it is important that you discuss your individual circumstances with your GP or Family Planning Nurse in order to choose the most suitable method for you.

Information from the NHS Choices website and FPA leaflets ‘Your Guide to Contraception’ and ‘Your Guide to Emergency Contraception’ and correct at time of writing.

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