Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if your contraceptive method has failed (e.g. a condom has split or you have missed a pill). The emergency contraceptive pill is sometimes called the Morning After pill.
Contraception for the future
There are two kinds of emergency contraceptive pill. Levonelle has to be taken within 72 hours (three days) of sexual intercourse. Levonelle can be provided to you by your CarePlus pharmacist after a consultation process.
EllaOne has to be taken within 120 hours (five days) of sexual intercourse. Both pills work by preventing or delaying ovulation (i.e. the release of an egg). EllaOne is available on prescription.
Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
Both types of emergency contraception are effective at preventing pregnancy if they are used soon after unprotected sex. The sooner you take Levonelle or EllaOne, the more effective it will be.
Levonelle or EllaOne can make you feel sick, dizzy or tired, or give you a headache, tender breasts or abdominal pain.
Levonelle or EllaOne can make your period earlier or later than usual. If you are sick (i.e. vomiting) within two hours of taking Levonelle or three hours of taking EllaOne, seek medical advice.
Levonelle contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic version of the natural hormone progesterone. In a woman’s body, progesterone plays a role in ovulation and preparing the uterus for accepting a fertilised egg. Levonelle is thought to work primarily by preventing or delaying ovulation.
EllaOne contains ulipristal acetate, which means it stops progesterone working normally. It prevents pregnancy mainly by preventing or delaying ovulation.
Levonelle and EllaOne do not protect you against pregnancy during the rest of your menstrual cycle and are not intended to be a regular form of contraception. Using the emergency contraceptive pill repeatedly can disrupt your natural menstrual cycle.