emergency contraceptionThe issue with contraception and sex is that often they’re either not discussed or discussed in private, a reality that can make the facts surrounding both particularly blurry. As a result, you may not be armed with the information you need to keep safe. Emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill is not new to the market and yet there are a number of misconceptions and myths that can be problematic for women who need the correct information in order to help them make important decisions relating to birth control.

Levonelle and ellaOne are both forms of emergency contraception that can be taken retrospectively to prevent pregnancy. Levonelle must be taken within three days of unprotected sex and ellaOne within five days. While both prevent or delay the release of an egg, ellaOne is considered to be more effective than Levonelle.

Now, let us look in more detail at what emergency contraception does and does not offer women.

The morning after pill does not protect you from STIs

Contrary to popular belief, like many forms of hormonal contraception, the morning after pill doesn’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). As a form of oral contraception, it works by releasing chemicals into the body, which affect the body’s natural response to fertilisation. As such, it cannot form a physical barrier that may also safeguard against sexually transmitted diseases or pelvic infections – as found with condoms and some forms of IUD (intrauterine device).

It does not cause abortion

While medication can be used to bring on abortion, emergency contraception works in a different way. Emergency contraception works by stopping the release of an egg and may also stop sperm from fertilising an egg that has already been released into the fallopian tubes. Levonelle contains levonorgestrel and ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate – which disrupts the natural hormone progesterone within a woman’s body. Progesterone is integral to the ovulation process and as a result, ovulation is prevented or delayed. For eggs that have already been fertilised and have implanted in the uterus, most forms of emergency contraception will have no effect.

Emergency contraception does not become less effective with more use

It is hard to pinpoint the exact number of pregnancies that have been prevented due to the use of Levonelle or ellaOne. However, research conducted in 2010 revealed that of the 1,696 women who received emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) within three days of unprotected sex, just 37 became pregnant. The same study showed that of the 203 women who took the morning after pill within three to five days of sex, three became pregnant. The rule of thumb is that the sooner you take EHCs after unprotected sex, the more effective they are likely to be.

Whilst neither Levonelle or ellaOne should be used as a method of regular contraception, both can be used more than once during any one menstrual cycle if necessary without diminishing effectiveness. It is important to note, that both EHCs do not offer continued protection and only prevent pregnancy after one act of unprotected sex. With Levonelle, your regular method of hormonal contraception will remain effective, however if you were to have sex after taking ellaOne you should use condoms as your normal contraception may not work as effectively as it should do.

It does not become less effective with alcohol

Alcohol or drug use does not make Levonelle or ellaOne any less effective. However, it is important to note that one of the primary side effect of excess alcohol consumption – vomiting – can impact on the effectiveness of oral contraceptives such as EHCs. If you vomit within two hours of taking emergency contraceptive Levonelle or within three hours with ellaOne, it is recommended that you seek medical advice where you will be either given another dose of your preferred EHC or fitted with an IUD.

Make sure you keep safe

In addition to offering trusted advice, Express Pharmacy can help you order the morning after pill discreetly. Simply select your treatment, complete our medical questionnaire and checkout to access a range of fast delivery options.