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Getting emergency contraception/abortion in Edinburgh

Living in a new city, it is important to make yourself aware of the services around you that you will need. Emergency contraception and abortion services may be vital in your time at Edinburgh.

Naturally, condoms burst, pills are missed, and we just have unprotected sex and regret it later. That’s why we have alternative methods to support us in any of these eventualities. So, it is important to know where you can find such services. The one thing to keep in mind is that emergency contraception and abortions are not alternatives to normal contraception. Taken in excess, they can be harmful.

The Lothian Sexual Health Clinic, aka The Chalmers Centre, will be your main port of call for your time in Edinburgh. It is an incredibly broad and helpful service, with doctors there who are prepared to help you with anything you need. If you want to start a normal method of contraception, they are probably the best place in Edinburgh to go to. Having experienced this clinic, I can tell you from first-hand how calm and supportive the clinic is, and how easily accessible it is as well. Currently due to Covid-19, they do not accept walk in appointments, however, you just need to phone or book online before attending in person.

If the clinic is closed (it is open Monday to Friday 9am-3pm) and you are in need of emergency help, contact NHS 24 by calling 111 or go to your nearest A&E.

Emergency contraception is very easy to access in Edinburgh. To get it from the Chalmers centre, phone 0131 536 1070. At other times of day, weekends and public holiday, phone NHS 24 or visit your local ‘out of hours’ pharmacy. The sooner you use emergency contraception, the more effective it will be, so don’t delay in taking it. 

There are three types of emergency contraception:

1.     The copper intrauterine device (IUD)

–       This is a small device that is inserted to the womb and can be used as a form of emergency contraception up to five days after unprotected sex.

–       After insertion, you can keep this as your ongoing method of contraception, or you can remove it after your next period.

–       It is available from most Sexual Health Clinics, some GPs and A&E departments.

2.     EllaOne

–       This is an emergency contraceptive pill that can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex.

–       It should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex to have the best chance of preventing pregnancy.

–       It is available from most pharmacies, Sexual Health Clinics, GPs and A&E departments.

3.     Levonorgestrel e.g. Levonelle

–       This is an emergency contraceptive pill that can be taken up to three days after unprotected sex.

–       It works best if taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.

–       It is available from most pharmacies, Sexual Health Clinics, GPs and A&E.

DO NOT FORGET that the pill is free on the NHS. So, don’t make the mistake of spending your money on a morning after pill at a random pharmacy. It’s over £25, and wouldn’t you rather just spend that money on a night out? Instead, make sure that you go to a pharmacy that’s part of the NHS and tell them that you would like to get the pill on the NHS.

For example, the Boots on Princes Street is on the NHS.

For those worried about emergency contraception being a method of abortion, it is not. These methods simply help prevent pregnancy from happening. They are taken as a precaution after unprotected sex.

In terms of abortions, in the eventuality that you might need one, although hopefully advice about emergency contraception prevents this, the Lothian Sexual Health Clinic is the main centre.

Call 0131 536 2454 in the case that you do need an abortion. 

If you are wondering about the abortion process, here is what will happen:

You will have 1-2 telephone appointments with a nurse or doctor, lasting from 40-60 minutes. This is time to talk about your decision, the treatment and procedure. They will discuss contraception with you and when you might expect to carry out the treatment. You will also be given the opportunity to have a separate appointment for emotional support, especially if you are unsure of what decision you want to take. 

There are two types of abortion: medical and surgical.

During Covid, most people will be offered medical, in order to avoid operations in hospital.

1.     Early Medical Abortion (0-12 weeks of pregnancy)

–       This is less than 12 weeks since your last period. NOT since you last had sex

–       This does not require face to face visits except in some circumstances.

–       Medication will be available to collect from the clinic and the procedure will be done at home.

–       You will be given 24-hour contact support numbers.

2.     Medial abortion in hospital (12-20 weeks of pregnancy)

–       You will take some of the medication at home and then 2 days later you will be admitted to hospital for treatment.

–       In some cases, the treatment is over in one day, in others you may need to stay overnight.

3.     Surgical abortion

–       During Covid, surgery and anaesthesia is avoided.

Post-abortion counselling is very important. They are a supportive service here for you in any capacity. Call Chalmers Clinic on 0131 536 2105 for an appointment for post-abortion counselling.

So, party hard this year, but party safe, and hopefully you won’t need to refer to any of this information. However, in the case that you do, just follow the guide and call up the numbers provided, and you will be fully supported. 

Image via Wikimedia Commons