At the launch of the public awareness campaign this week, in partnership with the Irish Pharmacy Union, were l-r: Helen Deely, Programme Lead, HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP); Darragh O’Loughlin, Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) Secretary General; Grainne O’Leary MPSI, pharmacist and member of the IPU Pharmacy Contractors’ Committee and Minister for Health, Simon Harris T.D. (Pic: Julien Behal)

A national public awareness campaign has been launched this week by the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP) in partnership with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), with the aim of increasing public awareness that the emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) pill is available to women directly from a pharmacist up to five days (120 hours) following unprotected sex.

The EHC pill can be used as an effective secondary method to prevent a crisis pregnancy when contraception has failed or has not been used.

Helen Deely, Programme Lead of the HSE SHCPP, said, “There is a misconception that the EHC pill, commonly known as the ‘morning after pill’, can only be taken the morning after unprotected sex. We would encourage women to consult a pharmacist as soon as possible after an occasion of unprotected sex.”

She continued, “It is important to remember that the EHC pill is not a primary method of contraception and that it is available as a secondary method if needed. We encourage women to talk to their GPs about the best methods of contraception for them.”

While the EHC pill can prevent an unplanned pregnancy, it does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Using condoms correctly and every time sexual intercourse happens will significantly reduce the risk of getting an STI.

For more information on STI testing, please visit