British Pregnancy Advisory Service logo

26 March 2014

UK: Guidance calls for emergency contraception to be given in advance of need

New guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), aimed at reducing unwanted teenage pregnancies, states that there should be greater access to emergency contraception, including pills and the IUD (intrauterine device, or coil), and condoms for under-25s.

Ann Furedi, bpas chief executive said:

‘We support NICE’s call for young women to be given oral emergency contraception in advance of need. The emergency contraceptive pill is more effective the earlier it is taken, so it makes sense for young women to keep it at home so it’s there if they need it.

‘Ideally we would like women of all ages to be able to either keep the emergency pill at home or obtain it free of charge from their local pharmacy. At present there’s wide variation in women’s access to this form of contraception, which is an essential back-up for when their regular method lets them down.

‘Sadly emergency contraception remains highly stigmatised, and is often seen as a marker of irresponsibility. In fact the opposite is true – and no woman, whatever her age, should feel ashamed or embarrassed of obtaining it when she needs it.’

The full NICE guidance, ‘Contraceptive services with a focus on young people up to the age of 25’, can be accessed here.