Survey finds worrying gaps in awareness about emergency contraception

Posted 14 March 2017

Date: 14 Mar 2017

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

A survey of 514 women of reproductive age between 18-45 has highlighted worrying gaps in knowledge about the most effective methods of emergency contraception.

Findings from a recent ComRes survey found that only 13% of women could identify the most effective form of emergency contraception - the copper coil or copper intrauterine device (IUD), with 60% of women aged 18-24 incorrectly believing that the emergency contraceptive pill, also known as the morning after pill, is the most effective method.

In addition, only 15% of women aged 18-45 who have been offered or have accessed emergency contraception say they have been offered the copper IUD. 

FSRH is concerned that these findings demonstrate a lack of awareness amongst women about the most effective form of emergency contraception. The findings also demonstrate a need for more visible guidance for healthcare professionals in this area to ensure that women are offered the copper IUD as the most effective form of emergency contraception.

Today FSRH launches its new Emergency Contraception guideline, which aims to bridge this gap in awareness and knowledge. The guideline gives clear evidence-based information to UK healthcare professionals, nurses, doctors, pharmacists and all those involved in advising and caring for women who wish access emergency contraception.

In line with NICE guidance, recommendations mark a new emphasis on healthcare professionals advising women that the copper IUD, is the most effective method of emergency contraception and that it provides extremely effective long-term contraception.

FSRH’s guidelinealso outlines that all healthcare professionals who provide emergency contraception should offer the women in their care the copper IUD, and if they cannot provide it, refer them on to services that can.

Dr Asha Kasliwal, FSRH President, commented:

“It is important that women are aware what methods of emergency contraception are available to them.

The copper IUD is not only the most effective form of emergency contraception, but the only method of emergency contraception that will act as an ongoing contraceptive to help protect women against unintended pregnancy.

FSRH hopes its new guideline will encourage more healthcare professionals to offer the copper IUD as a method of emergency contraception and raise awareness amongst women that the morning after pill isn’t their only option when it comes to emergency contraception and ongoing pregnancy prevention.”


Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 27 Sussex Place, London NW1 4RG. Charity No. 1019969.

Notes to editors:

  • The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare is the largest professional membership body working in sexual and reproductive health in the UK. It supports healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. Its vision is of a world where quality SRH is accessible to all. It grants diplomas, certificates, fellowships and equivalent recognition of specialist knowledge and skills in family planning and reproductive health care. It has nearly 16,000 members - doctors and nurses of whom over 10,000 are general practitioners. It promotes conferences and lectures, provides members with an advisory service and publishes The Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care. For more information please visit
  • FSRH (2017) Emergency Contraception. Available at:    
  • ComRes interviewed 514 British women aged 18-45 online between 24th to 26th February 2017. Data are weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults aged 18+ by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
  • NICE (September 2016) Contraception Quality Standard: Quality Statement 2: Emergency contraception. Available at:
  • For further information please contact:
    Harry Walker
    Head of External Affairs and Standards
    Telephone: 0203 751 8077