Morning After Pill

Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC)

EHC is commonly known as the morning-after pill. If you’ve had unprotected sex, taking the morning-after pill within a few days can help to prevent pregnancy.

The pill can also be effective if the condom split during sex or, under certain circumstances, if you have forgotten to take your usual contraceptive pill.

What is the morning after pill?

There are 2 main types of emergency contraceptive pill – Levonelle and ellaOne. Levonelle contains a man-made version of the hormone progesterone. It is thought to work by stopping or delaying ovulation (the release of an egg). In contrast, ellaOne contains the active ingredient ulipristal acetate, which prevents progesterone from working normally. Like Levonelle, it stops or delays ovulation.

Note that neither Levonelle nor ellaOne continue to protect you against pregnancy. So, if you have sex at any point after taking these treatments, you may become pregnant. They are also not designed to be used as a regular method of birth control.

When can I take the morning after pill?

Levonelle has to be taken within 3 days (72 hours) of unprotected sex, but it is most effective if taken within 12 hours. You can take ellaOne within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected sex, but it is most effective if taken as soon as possible.

Who can take the morning after pill?

Most women can take emergency hormonal contraception, including those who aren’t able to use regular hormonal contraception like the combined pill. Girls under 16 can also take it.

However, it might not be suitable for you if you have severe asthma, are allergic to any ingredients contained within it, or are taking certain medicines that may interact with it. This includes:

  • Some treatments for HIV, epilepsy or tuberculosis
  • Some medicines for controlling acidity levels in the stomach
  • Less commonly used antibiotics (such as rifabutin or rifampicin)
  • St John’s Wort

Is the morning after pill safe?

The morning after pill is safe to use, and therefore it doesn’t cause any known serious or long-term effects. However, you might experience the following mild or temporary side effects:

  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches
  • Changes to your next period
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting (If you are sick within 3 hours of taking ellaOne or 2 hours of taking Levonelle, speak to your GP or pharmacist. You will need to take another dose.)

Where can I buy the morning after pill?

You can buy the morning after pill from a pharmacy. The team here at Day Lewis Pharmacy will be able to talk you through your options. You can also purchase the morning after pill online from trusted pharmacies.

Is this service free?

Depending on where you live, selected Day Lewis Pharmacies can offer the morning after pill for free under the NHS funded Emergency Contraception Service.

If you’re not eligible for the free service then Day Lewis can offer the morning after pill in the pharmacy as a private service. As part of this service, one of our experts will ask you questions about your health, including whether you have other medical conditions or are taking other medicines.

If you need the morning after pill or want to speak to a healthcare professional in confidence about concerns you have around sexual health, the team at Day Lewis are here for you. Find your local Day Lewis Pharmacy here.

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