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Everything You Need to Know About Emergency Contraception

Posted Saturday 15 December 2018 17:06 by Tim Deakin in Emergency Contraception

emergency contraception

Emergency contraception is an effective means of preventing pregnancy following unprotected sex, or sex during which the method of contraception has failed – e.g. a split condom or a missed contraceptive pill.

There are two kinds of emergency contraception: the morning after pill and the intrauterine device (IUD). Emergency contraception is not designed as a primary source of contraception, but rather something to be taken when other methods are not available or fail.

Read on to find everything you need to know about the morning after pill, including where you can get it safely and swiftly.

The fast facts you need to know about emergency contraception

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding emergency contraception, so here are some of the key facts to help clear things up for you.

  • Emergency contraception cannot be used to terminate a pregnancy. The morning after pill and the abortion pill are two completely different kinds of medication and should never be used interchangeably.
  • Emergency contraception has no impact on your ability to conceive in the future. There is no evidence to suggest that even multiple uses of the morning after pill will make you less likely to get pregnant in the future.
  • The morning after pill has up to a 95% effectiveness rating for preventing pregnancy. Less than one percent of women who use the IUD get pregnant.[1]
  • Emergency contraception can be taken up to 5 days after sex and still be effective, depending on the contraception you choose.

Your choice of contraception

Another misconception regarding emergency contraception is that it only comes in one form. In reality, there are several options available. As we mentioned above, the two main kinds of emergency contraception are the morning after pill and the IUD. There are also different kinds of morning after pill to choose from too.

ellaOne emergency contraception

These are Levonelle and ellaOne. Levonelle can be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, though it is most effective in the first 12 hours. It works by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg and preventing sperm from fertilising any egg that may have been released.

Similarly, ellaOne can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. A dose consists of one tablet which works to inhibit or delay ovulation, helping to prevent pregnancy.

The IUD is a more long-term commitment to emergency contraception. It involves the insertion of a coil directly into the womb which then releases copper to stop the egg implanting in your womb or being fertilised.

The morning after pill: your questions answered

Who can use the morning after pill?

Most women can take the morning after pill safely, including women who can’t use hormonal contraception and breastfeeding mothers. It’s always best to check with your GP if you are currently taking any other prescription medication. You should also avoid the medication if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.

Can you use it alongside normal contraception?

You can use emergency contraception if you forget to take a dose of your regular contraceptive pill. If you have taken Levonelle, you should continue your normal course of contraception within 12 hours. After taking ellaOne, you should wait 5 days before taking your next contraceptive pill.[2]

What are the side effects of the emergency pill?

There are no serious side effects to taking the morning after pill. However, it can cause mild, short-term side effects such as headaches, tummy pains, nausea and changes to the timing of your next period.


Busting the Myths Surrounding Emergency Contraception

Posted Tuesday 29 November 2016 13:53 by Tim Deakin in Emergency Contraception

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.


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