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Morning After Pill Facts

Morning After Pill Facts

About the morning after pill

If you’re worried about an unplanned pregnancy, you can take the morning after pill as emergency contraception. The sooner you take it, the more effective it will be.

We offer ellaOne, Levonelle and levonorgestrel. Which one is right for you depends on when you had unprotected sex, your weight or BMI, or if you’re taking certain drugs that affect your liver.

If you have used any hormonal contraception in the last seven days you cannot use ellaOne, you must select Levonelle, levonorgestrel or have the copper coil fitted (see below).

If you know you’ve ovulated already and you’re in the second half of your cycle this month, please still use the morning after pill as soon as possible. But your best option is the copper coil. We advise you to use both to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

What other emergency contraception options do I have?

The copper intrauterine device, often known as the copper coil, is another type of emergency contraceptive.

A doctor or nurse can fit it into your womb. The coil is the best form of emergency contraception and can be used at any point in your cycle, within five days of unprotected sex. Please speak to your GP or local family planning clinic.

The coil also works as ongoing routine contraception. If you get it fitted, it can protect you against pregnancy for between five and ten years.

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How does the morning after pill work?

The pills work by stopping, or delaying, the release of an egg. This means it can’t be fertilised by sperm.

How long after sex can I take the morning after pill?

You should take the tablet as soon as possible after unprotected sex.

For ellaOne you must take it within five days (120 hours). For Levonelle and levonorgestrel (single or double dose) you must take it within three days (72 hours).

How do I take the morning after pill?

If you’re prescribed the morning after pill you would need to take it as soon as possible.

If you weigh more than 70kg, or have a BMI over 26, and are requesting Levonelle or levonorgestrel you will need to take a double dose of this medicine for the best effect. If you are less than 70kg you will just need to take a single dose.

Only one dose of ellaOne is required in all cases.

You will also need a double dose of Levonelle or levonorgestrel if you’re taking certain drugs that affect your liver.

What are common side effects of emergency contraception?

Common side effects can include nausea, vomiting and tummy pain.

You might also get some spotting before your next period – which could be earlier or later than usual, but usually within a week of when expected.

For the full information on side effects and how to take your treatment, read the important Patient Information Leaflet that comes with your medicine.

Should I take a pregnancy test?

We advise everyone to take a pregnancy test three weeks after using emergency contraception.

Important safety information

It’s important that you tell us which other medicines you’re taking — whether they’re prescription or medicines you’ve bought without a prescription. We need to know so that we can prescribe a suitable emergency contraception for you. The morning after pill can be less effective if taken with certain other drugs or with specific conditions.

How effective is the morning after pill?

Emergency contraception will not stop pregnancy every time.

A 2010 clinical study estimated that around nine in 1,000 women who take ellaOne within 24 hours of unprotected sex will become pregnant. The study estimated that around 23 in 1,000 women who take Levonelle or levonorgestrel within 24 hours of unprotected sex will become pregnant.

The effectiveness of all these morning after pills may be affected by your weight. But we know that using a double dose of Levonelle or levonorgestrel is more effective if you weigh over 70kg.

After you’ve taken the morning after pill, you should use condoms until your next period.

Some treatment side effects could also be signs of early pregnancy so you should take a pregnancy test three weeks after unprotected sex.

What if I’m sick after I’ve taken the morning after pill?

If you vomit within three hours of taking your medicine, you should take another dose as soon as possible.

How often can I take the morning after pill?

The morning after pill is a form of emergency contraception. You should not use it in place of regular methods of contraception. It’s not as effective as options like the pill, condoms or the long acting methods: implant, coil, or injection.

If absolutely necessary, it’s possible to take the morning after pill more than once in a menstrual cycle, however it’s not as effective as regular contraception.

If you’re using emergency contraception for the third time in three months or less, we’d like to talk to you to help you find a suitable long-term contraceptive.

When should I take my regular oral contraception?

If you’ve taken ellaOne you should wait five days until you (re)start your regular oral contraception.

You can (re)start your oral contraception immediately after taking Levonelle or levonorgestrel.

For both, you should use condoms for seven days or until your next period. If you have any questions about your contraception, please message us.

Can I take the morning after pill if I’ve just had a baby?

You can take the morning after pill from day 21 after childbirth.

Can I take the morning after pill if I’ve just had an abortion or miscarriage?

You can take the morning after pill from day five after an abortion, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or uterine evacuation.

What are my routine contraception options?

Routine contraception is a much more effective way to protect against pregnancy. You can visit our online contraceptive pill service or talk to your GP or local family planning clinic to find a long-acting method, like the implant or coil, that’s best-suited to you.

Should I get tested for STIs?

Emergency contraception does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you’ve had unprotected sex you could have caught an STI so it’s best to get ested. You can order a test through our home test kits service.

Keeping you safe

If you do not feel safe, are experiencing abuse or control, or have experienced this in the past, please find support below or send us a message:

Page last reviewed by: Dr. Christina Hennessey 21/06/2021