Levonelle is a progestogen hormone that acts to prevent pregnancy by inhibiting or delaying ovulation. This means an egg is not released from the ovary, so fertilisation cannot occur from unprotected sex prior to ovulation. It is not effective after ovulation has already occurred.
Levonelle should only be used in emergencies, it should not be used as a regular method of contraception. Levonelle has not been tested for prolonged or regular use. It contains a high dose of hormones that can produce stronger side effects and have an effect on your menstrual cycle. In addition, Levonelle is not as effective as other methods of contraception, so other methods can be more reliable.
Levonelle is available from Dr Felix as a “stand by” treatment only. We do not offer it as an emergency treatment due to the time-sensitive nature of emergency contraception. While you can take Levonelle up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, it's most effective within the first 24 hours and should be taken as soon as possible.
You can get Levonelle for emergency use from your GP, local sexual health clinic or pharmacy. It’s often available free, however, pharmacies may charge for it. Often it’s available from school nurses, emergency departments, walk-in centres or minor injury centres.
The sooner you take Levonelle the more effective it is. The pregnancy rate following the use of Levonelle is around 0.6–3.1%. This means that if 1000 women take Levonelle after unprotected sex, between 6 and 31 will fall pregnant.
Levonelle will start to work as soon as you take it as long as it's taken within the 72-hour window. However, Levonelle is less effective, the longer you leave it. ellaOne can be effective up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex.
One tablet, taken within 72 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse
|Type of Medicine||
Progestin contraceptives (morning after pill)
Thought to interrupt follicular development and ovulation
From £12.05 per tablet
Can include nausea, vomiting, tiredness, headache, irregular bleeding until your next period, lower abdominal pain, rash
The main difference between the two types of emergency contraception is that ellaOne can be taken within five days of having unprotected sex whereas Levonelle must be taken within three days. Both work in similar ways and are more likely to be effective when taken early on. Overall, ellaOne is slightly more effective, with a pregnancy rate of 0.9–2.1%, compared with 0.6–3.1% for Levonelle.
Levonelle may be more suitable for people with certain medical problems such as severe asthma, or for those using certain medications, including hormonal contraceptives. Your prescriber will be able to advise which is most suitable for you.
Common side effects may include:
Less common side effects can include:
Levonelle is not suitable to take if:
The treatment may not be suitable if you:
If you are under 16 years of age you need to see a doctor or visit a family planning clinic to get access to emergency contraception.
If you are using the following medications, Levonelle may not work correctly:
You may be offered an IUD instead which is a long term contraceptive, known as the coil, that also works as a method of emergency contraception, and is not affected by medication.
Alcohol does not have an effect on Levonelle.
Levonelle is taken as a single tablet containing a dose of 1.5mg of levonorgestrel.
Take the tablet as soon as possible after having unprotected sex. It should be swallowed whole with a glass of water. It can be taken up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse but works best within the first 24 hours.
Levonelle will not have any harmful effects if you are already pregnant. It will not terminate a pregnancy and does not work in place of an abortion pill.
If you vomit within 3 hours of taking Levonelle you should take another pill right away. If you continue to vomit, then see a GP or pharmacist right away as they may be able to give you a different treatment.
Levonelle is not an abortion pill and it cannot terminate an existing pregnancy. It is a form of contraception that prevents conception from taking place.
Studies have concluded that taking Levonelle will not cause harm to an unborn baby, or cause a miscarriage if you are already pregnant.
If you have previously experienced an ectopic pregnancy then you may be more at risk of having one after taking Levonelle. If this applies to you then let your doctor know as Levonelle may not be suitable.
A common side effect of Levonelle is that it can affect your next period. It is common for your next period to come earlier or later than usual. In addition, your period could be heavier or lighter. An early sign of pregnancy can be a change in your period, therefore, it is recommended that you take a pregnancy test after your next period is due, just to be sure.
Taking Levonelle will not affect the results of a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests check for a hormone called HCG, which is only produced if you are pregnant.
You can take Levonelle as often as you need to but it should only be used in emergencies. If you find that you need to take Levonelle regularly, an alternative method of contraception may be more suitable for you.
Levonelle is most effective when it is taken within the first 24 hours. Levonelle effectiveness decreases, the longer you leave it after unprotected sex, however, it can be effective up to 72 hours later. If you are unable to take Levonelle quickly, ellaOne may be more effective. ellaOne can be effective for up to 5 days after unprotected sex.
Levonelle can only be purchased by adults over 16. It may be prescribed to women under 16, at the discretion of a doctor.
The active ingredient in Levonelle is 1.5mg of levonorgestrel.
The inactive ingredients in Levonelle are: maize starch, potato starch, magnesium, colloidal silica anhydrous, stearate (E572), talc (E533b), lactose monohydrate.
Unless you are allergic to levonorgestrel or any of the other ingredients in this medication, getting a severe allergic reaction to this medication is rare. Hives, dizziness, facial swelling, and trouble breathing are signs of a severe allergic reaction and need immediate medical attention.
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