Emergency Contraception

Everything You Need to Know About the Morning-After Pill

Did you know that 20% of women in the UK between the ages of 18 and 35 take the morning pill at least once a year?

So, what is the morning after pill?

A morning-after pill is a form of emergency contraception that helps prevent unwanted pregnancies. It’s one of the two emergency contraceptives available on the market. The second one is the intrauterine device or IUD.

How the Morning-After Pill Works

You can use the morning after pill if you have had unprotected sexual intercourse or if your contraceptive method has failed (e.g. the condom broke). All morning-after pills must be taken as soon as possible because its effectiveness will depend on how early you take it.

The morning after pills work in two ways:

  1. By inhibiting or delaying your ovulation (a process where your ovaries release a mature egg).
  2. By preventing the sperm from fertilizing an egg that may have already been released by your ovaries.

You cannot take the morning-after pill daily. From the name itself, this medication is for emergency purposes only and should not replace your regular contraception. Remember that emergency contraception as well as an IUD will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. If you have multiple partners, we encourage you to use other forms of contraception like condoms.

It’s a common misconception that the morning after pill can affect your ability to get pregnant in the future. This is not true. An emergency contraceptive is not designed for abortion nor it will stop you from conceiving in the future should you choose to. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you want to learn more about the nature of this drug.

When Should I Take the Morning-After Pill?

The morning-after pill is most effective when taken early. Depending on how many days have passed since unprotected sex, you can take either Levonelle which is effective within 3 days of sexual intercourse or EllaOne which you can take up to a maximum of 5 days after sex.

The morning-after pill is safe and will not interfere with your regular contraceptive.

How Effective Is The Morning- After Pill?

Like all contraceptive methods, the morning-after pill doesn’t guarantee 100% protection against unwanted pregnancy. Both EllaOne and Levonelle are tested and proven to help reduce your risks of pregnancy but their effectiveness depends on how early you take the pill. It is recommended to take the morning after pill within the first 12 hours after sex to maximize its efficiency. Levonelle can prevent pregnancy 95% of the time when taken within the first 24 hours. EllaOne, on the other hand, has a success rate of 95% throughout its 5-day window.

What Are The Side Effects of the Morning-After Pill?

Studies show that the morning-after pill is generally safe to use. Serious or long-term side effects associated with this emergency contraception method are very rare. Below are the common side effects of the morning-after pill:

  • Headache
  • Stomach ache
  • Vomiting
  • Early, late, or unusual period

Consult with your doctor if you vomit within 3 hours of taking a morning-after pill as there’s a chance that your body has not absorbed all the medication yet. Seek medical help too if your period is delayed by a week or if you think that you are pregnant.

In extremely rare cases, a fertilized egg may implant itself outside the womb. This is called an ectopic pregnancy and one of its tell-tale symptoms is sudden pain in your lower abdomen. Talk to your doctor right away.

What’s The Right Morning-After Pill for Me?

There are two main variations of the morning-after pill in the market - EllaOne and Levonelle. Both of these are very effective in preventing pregnancies when used as directed. Let’s discuss each one below:


EllaOne contains ulipristal acetate. This active ingredient works by delaying or stopping your ovaries from releasing a mature egg to prevent pregnancy. EllaOne comes in tablet form which you can take orally up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex. This prescription-only treatment was first launched in the UK and later became available throughout Europe.


Levonelle is another type of emergency contraceptive. This one has a shorter effective window than EllaOne. You must take Levonelle within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex. The longer you wait, the less effective this morning after pill becomes. Levonelle works by inhibiting or delaying your ovulation. It also prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg that may have been released already. Levonelle was first launched in the UK in 2004.

Can I Take The Morning-After Pill While Breastfeeding?

Yes! Women who are nursing can use the morning-after pill without any serious problems. This emergency contraception is made from a combination of synthetic progesterone and oestrogen. High levels of oestrogen may affect the milk supply of breastfeeding mothers. As a result, expect that there’s a small decrease in the amount of milk you produce especially during the first few days after taking the emergency contraceptive.

Should I be worried?

No. Your breast milk production should go back to normal after a couple of days.

Where To Get The Morning-After Pill

Contrary to what most people think, the morning-after pill is very accessible. You can get this emergency contraception treatment from sexual health clinics, contraception clinics, certain GPs, pharmacies, young people’s clinics, accidents and emergency departments, and young people’s clinics.

You can also get the morning-after pill online and get it delivered discreetly to your doorstep. If you are over 16 years old, you can order either Levonelle or EllaOne from Confidential Clinics. If you are concerned about travelling to a doctor or clinic, get in touch with us. Should you need the morning-after pill in advance (i.e., if you are going on a vacation), let us know and we will get it to you.

How Much Is the Morning-After Pill?

The cost of the morning-after pill depends on the type of treatment you choose. We assure you that Confidential Clinics offer competitive prices. Refer to our product pages for the current pricing.

When Should I Use An Intrauterine Device?

If you are looking for very long-term protection (let’s say around five to ten years), then an intrauterine device is perfect for you. The IUD or coil is a small T-shaped device made from copper and plastic. It is inserted by a doctor or nurse into your womb. The copper portion of the IUD keeps you from getting pregnant.

The IUD is a very effective form of emergency contraception with a success rate of 99%. The only downside of this device is that it can make your period heavier and longer. Keep in mind that the IUD will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. If you have multiple partners, we encourage you to use a condom.

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