Accidents happen in life from time to time and mistakes often need rectifying. But there are few mishaps with more serious implications than opening oneself to the possibility of falling pregnant.

Even the most conscientious of people can suffer an accident or make a misjudgment that leads to the possibility of conception. This may include those individuals who have:

  • Not used contraception during intercourse
  • Used a condom that has split or come off
  • Failed to withdraw as intended
  • Missed their contraceptive pill

A fast and effective solution to such occurrences is an emergency contraceptive – otherwise known as the ‘morning after pill’. Provided that the medication is taken a short period of time after the unprotected sex has taken place, emergency contraceptives can be a simple and hassle-free way to ensure that a woman does not fall pregnant.

At Express Pharmacy, we now stock two emergency contraceptives. Not surprisingly, we are regularly asked which option is best and so in this article we will compare and contrast Levonelle and ellaOne.


EllaOne is considered to be the most effective morning after pill on the market. The active ingredient is a chemical called ulipristal acetate, which comes in the form of a single tablet.

EllaOne is considered to be 95% effective when taken within five days of unprotected intercourse, offering a significantly longer window for treatment than Levonelle. It is important to say, however, that those not wishing to fall pregnant should take EllaOne as soon as possible after sex, rather than allowing the full 120 hours to elapse.

A drawback of ellaOne is that it may only be taken once during a single menstrual cycle, and may disrupt long-term contraception such as the combined pill during the cycle.

The result of this is that it is not always possible to continue sexual activity as normal during the subsequent menstrual cycle due to the increased likelihood of pregnancy.

Side effects

Whilst usually rare and not considered serious, there are a few potential side effects to be aware of when taking ellaOne. These may include:

  • Irregular bleeding
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pains

Should you take any other prescription medications for health conditions, it is important to seek the advice of a pharmacist or GP before taking ellaOne.


Levonelle is the most widely used emergency contraception pill on the market today. Although it is considered to be less effective than ellaOne and may only be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, it is a cheaper and more flexible option.

Levonelle contains the active ingredient levonorgestrel. It is recommended that Levonelle is ingested within 12 hours of unprotected sex for maximum effectiveness, but it is possible to take the medication with some reliability up to 3 days after intercourse. Reliability figures are as follows:

  • Up to 95% effective when taken within the first 24 hours after intercourse
  • Up to 85% effective when taken within the first 48 hours after intercourse
  • Up to 58% effective when taken within the first 72 hours after intercourse

An added benefit of Levonelle is that it is possible to take tablets more than once during the same menstrual cycle if you should require it. And unlike ellaOne, which can inhibit some forms of contraceptive pill, Levonelle allows women to continue using their usual pill-based contraception effectively throughout the remainder of the month.

Side effects

Much like ellaOne, side effects are rare with Levonelle. For those women who do experience some mild problems, the most common of these are:

  • Bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pains

It should be mentioned that neither ellaOne nor Levonelle have any effectiveness against the contraction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Emergency contraceptions should never be taken as a replacement for protected sex and if unsure as to the likelihood of an STI being contracted, a condom should always be used.

Looking to purchase the morning after pill today? Visit our Emergency Contraception page now. More information is also available via the Family Planning Association.