NHS Direct has launched an online emergency contraceptive advice tool.

The Contraception Checker aims to deal with enquiries about emergency contraception, missed contraceptive pills, dislodged contraceptive devices, interactions with other medicines or failed contraceptives.

The online tool has taken the protocols used by NHS Direct call centres to assess patients over the telephone and adapted them for the website.

NHS Direct says the information provided is based on a series of questions and, depending on the data provided, may suggest a number of options including a visit to the family planning service or GP, a conversation with a nurse adviser or a visit to a pharmacy to buy over the counter emergency contraception.

NHS Direct says the online tool means enquirers can anonymous at all times, reaching those who may be less comfortable using the telephone or talking face-to-face.

The health helpline is also offering an anonymous web chat service and with web chat advisers available 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm at weekends.

NHS Duirect said that since the service went live there have been 34,700 unique visits to the site and 409 people have engaged in anonymous web chats, of which 3% were men.

Anne Joshua, associate director of pharmacy at NHS Direct, said: “Sexual health is one of the major public health challenges and unplanned pregnancy is the most problematic.

"The Contraception Checker is idea for anyone in urgent need of information about what to do if they have had unprotected sex but who also wishes to remain anonymous.”