ellaOne is a type of emergency contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex. Often known as the morning after pill, it can be taken up to five days after having unprotected sex if, for example, a condom has split or you have forgotten to take your contraceptive pill.
ellaOne works by essentially delaying ovulation or tricking the body into thinking it has already occurred. It contains the active substance ulipristal acetate which targets the progesterone hormones that are released naturally into the womb. During your menstrual cycle, an egg is released from the ovaries and the progesterone hormone is triggered to line the womb ready to receive a fertilised egg. ellaOne delays this process for five days to stop you falling pregnant. The sooner you take it the more effective it is.
ellaOne has been shown to be 95% effective at protecting against unwanted pregnancies. While you have a five day window to take it after having unprotected sex, the sooner you take it the more effective it will be.
You should try to avoid regularly taking ellaOne. ellaOne contains a higher level of hormones than other contraceptive method, therefore you are more likely to experience side effects, including disruption to your menstrual cycle and will not provide you with protection against STIs. In addition, ellaOne has not be tested for long term use, so there may be other more harmful side effects if you take ellaOne regularly. If you feel the need to take ellaOne more than once every month or two, you should consider other methods of contraception such as the pill, IUD or implant.
Due to the time pressure of the treatment, ellaOne is not suitable to order by post. The sooner you take the pill the more effective it is so we would not recommend putting it off and having to wait for your treatment to arrive. While it would be possible for Dr Felix to ship your order on a next day delivery, the risk of the package being lost or delayed would cost you the chance at being treated effectively. However, you can order it in advance if you are going to be on holiday or are in a situation where you are unable to access contraception or emergency contraception easily.
You can get ellaOne for emergency use from a local pharmacy, sexual health clinic or your GP. They will usually ask you a series of questions to determine your suitability for it.
There are some possible side effects associated with ellaOne. These commonly include:
Less common side effects are:
Rare side effects include:
Do not take ellaOne if there is a chance you are already pregnant. While you can take it at any time during your cycle, if your period is already late then consult your doctor or pharmacist first. They may advise you to take a pregnancy test.
The emergency contraceptive is not suitable to take if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. Consult your doctor if:
ellaOne does not act as a continual contraceptive. You'll need to use protection such as condoms or the pill if you have sexual intercourse after you take the medication. It also does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections.
ellaOne can cause hormonal forms of contraception, such as the combined pill, to become temporarily less effective. You should use an additional barrier method of contraception, such as condoms, for seven days after taking ellaOne. Inform your doctor if you are taking:
Drinking alcohol will not have an adverse effect on ellaOne.
Taking ellaOne often delays your next period by a couple of days. If your period is late by seven days or more then the treatment may not have worked and you should take a pregnancy test.
If you take ellaOne while you are breastfeeding it's recommended that you stop breastfeeding for one week after taking the medication.
ellaOne does not have an effect on your fertility, other then temporarily preventing ovulation.
Levonelle is another emergency contraceptive known as the morning after pill. It must be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex but it's most effective when taken within 12 hours. Levonelle is only 84% effective, whereas ellaOne has an efficiency rate of 95%. It's also been shown to be less effective for women with a larger BMI whereas ellaOne is not affected by this.
While ellaOne is the most effective morning after pill, the IUD is still the best form of emergency contraception. It can be inserted up to five days after unprotected sex and is 99% effective. It will also provide ongoing protection against pregnancy for up to ten years and does not interact with other medicines or interrupt sex.
If you vomit up to two hours after taking ellaOne then you'll need to take another tablet right away as the treatment won't have worked. If this continues to happen then seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist right away as they may issue you with an alternative.
While emergency contraception is never 100% effective, there are some factors which can make ellaOne less effective. The pill must be taken up to 120 hours after having unprotected sex, if you leave it too late then it won't work. Vomiting is another major factor as the side effects can include nausea and stomach upset. Discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor or pharmacist in case they interact with ellaOne and make them aware of any existing health conditions you may have to ensure the treatment is suitable for you.
There is an increased risk of having an ectopic pregnancy after taking ellaOne. If you fall pregnant after taking it then let your doctor know right away.