Emergency contraception is a so-called umbrella term denoting different birth control methods that are used after a primary method has failed or has not been used at the first place. This might occur, for example, when barrier contraception such as condom rips or if a woman forgets to take her regular contraceptive pill as scheduled after having unprotected sex.

What’s on this page?

One of the most popular morning after pills (called “plan B pills” by some) certainly is EllaOne. It relies on the active ingredient ulipristal acetate for its effects and it needs to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. The time frame for using EllaOne emergency contraception is up to 120 hours (or 5 days) after intercourse. This medicine works by interfering with the action of progesterone in the body, inhibiting certain bodily functions that occur as a kind of preparation for pregnancy.

Emergency contraception within the United Kingdom

Levonelle and Upostelle morning after pills contain the same active agent, levonorgestrel which makes them virtually identical in terms of efficiency and mechanism of action. Unlike EllaOne, women using these medicines will need to obtain a dose no later than 72 hours (or 3 days) after intercourse without protection. Levonorgestrel is a unique pharmaceutical compound in that that it is synthetic progesterone. Similarly to EllaOne, this compound too will interfere with natural bodily processes related to progesterone, preventing certain biological changes from taking place, thus reducing the possibility of the onset of pregnancy.

All emergency contraception treatments interfere with the normal process of ovulation, most notably by blocking the release of an ovum (egg cell) so fertilization cannot take place. At the same time, they stop the lining of the uterine from building up, making it non-receptive to an egg if it is fertilized. This process also makes cervical fluid thicker, which in turn makes it harder for sperm cells to break through and reach the egg.

What morning after pills are not?

It is very important to note that emergency contraception should never be used after the indicated functional period – they cannot be used as an alternative to abortion procedure (termination). If you suspect you are pregnant, do not use this treatment – instead, speak to your doctor for advice.

The only safe way to use morning after pills is within the indicated time frame, right after unprotected sex occurred.

Types of emergency contraception medicines

The number of types and kinds of available morning after pills on the modern market is much more limited than one might assume. Due to the fact that these treatments are far from simple, not many pharmaceutical companies decide to conduct research in the topic of emergency contraception. At the moment, three main brands that undoubtedly dominate the UK market are already mentioned EllaOne, Levonelle and Upostelle.

While all of these medicines belong to the same category of day after pills, their mechanisms of action are slightly different, as has been discussed above.

How do morning after pills work?

All of the mentioned medicine aim to achieve the same goal – safely prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex – but they accomplish this in somewhat different ways. For example, while EllaOne works by interfering with the natural processes involving progesterone in order to avert the ovulation and prevent the thickening of the uterine lining, Levonelle and Upostelle contain synthetic progesterone which does the very same thing.

Are there any side effects of emergency contraception?

With similar mechanisms of action and the same task, these medicines also share the same array of potential side effects, including:

  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea

Is it safe to use morning after pill if I’m currently taking some medicine?

In most cases, there should be no adverse interactions, but the precise answer will naturally depend on what exact medicines you might be taking. To be on the safe side, be sure to consult with your doctor prior to taking emergency contraception, so you can ensure there are no adverse effects.

Which morning after pill should I use?

Your doctor is the person who can give you the most precise answer to this question. Even in that case, your suitability for different types of emergency contraception can significantly vary depending on your medical history, current presence of certain health conditions, other medications you might be taking, the time that passed since you had unprotected sex and various other factors.

Can I buy emergency contraception online in the UK?

Yes, emergency contraception can be obtained online easily. However, you will need to choose an online clinic that you prefer and order the medicine from there. You will be presented with an online questionnaire with the aim of determining whether you are suitable for the treatment you had in mind. If that is not the case, the doctor employed at the online clinic will recommend you an alternative. Or, in case your medicine is approved, it will be sent out and delivered to your doorstep, based on the company policy.