Category Archives: Emergency contraception

Sexually transmitted infections

Emergency contraceptive pills do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or infections.1

If you have had unprotected sex you might have caught a sexually transmitted infection. If this might be the case, talk to your doctor, or another healthcare professional, about getting tested.2 They can put your mind at rest, provide treatment and explain how you can avoid passing the infection on to other people whom you have sex with.

Couple goes hand in hand

Emergency contraceptive pills do not cause abortion

You might have heard that emergency contraceptive pills causes abortion. This is not true. Emergency contraceptive pills prevent pregnancy.1 They act before pregnancy can occur.

If you are already pregnant emergency contraception will not stop your pregnancy. It will not cause an abortion.1


1.ellaOne® Patient Information Leaflet.

How emergency contraceptive pills work

Emergency contraceptive pills work by inhibiting or delaying ovulation.1,2 

They work to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex by quickly postposing ovulation, if it has not already happened. This means that the sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes will be unable to meet an egg and fertilise it. This is similar to regular contraceptive pills, which also work by preventing egg release.

Emergency contraceptive pills are not 100% effective.1 This is because there is a chance that you may have already ovulated when you take an emergency contraceptive pill. Taking emergency contraceptive pills as soon as possible after unprotected sex gives the best chance of success.3

The sooner you take emergency contraceptive pills, the better·

  • Emergency contraceptive pills are not 100% effective.1·
  • ellaOne® is the only morning after pill that is still effective when risk of pregnancy is highest1,4,5·
  • The sooner you take emergency contraception, the better the chance of successfully postponing ovulation and avoiding pregnancy.3


Emergency contraceptive pills will not protect you from pregnancy if you have further unprotected sex.3

woman holding a condom

If you want to have sex after using an emergency contraceptive pill, use a barrier method of contraception until your next period.


Types of emergency contraception

The intrauterine device (IUD) which is suitable for emergency contraception is a Copper-T IUD

Copper-T IUD is considered the most effective emergency contraceptive method and it provides an ongoing contraceptive solution.1 However in a situation where you need to act very quickly, IUD fitting takes time and involves an invasive and uncomfortable procedure.

Copper-T IUD can be fitted up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex .3  However its use is restricted by its availability and the need to be inserted by a healthcare professional.2  

Oral emergency contraception (emergency contraception pills, ECPs)

Emergency contraceptive pills are also called morning after pills, because it is best to take them as soon as possible after unprotected sex.4

There are two oral emergency contraceptives available5

  • One containing levonorgestrel, which was first made available in 1999
  • One containing ulipristal acetate (ellaOne®), which became available in 2009

The mechanism of action of oral emergency contraception  is to postpone or inhibit ovulation , so that no egg is released.6,7

Depending on the country, oral emergency contraception may be available directly from your pharmacist, without a prescription. The dose is one single tablet to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.4,7


ellaOne® is the most effective morning after pill and was specifically developed for emergency contraception5


Summary of the types of emergency contraception available in Europe

FORMAT How quickly must I act? How effective is it ? How can I get it ?
ellaOne® (30mg ulipristal acetate) Tablet7 As soon as possible, and within 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure7 Effective even when taken just before egg release7 when risk of pregnancy is highest Pharmacy or doctor’s prescription
Levonorgestrel (0.75 mg & 1.5 mg) Tablet9 As soon as possible, and within 3 days (72 hours) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure9 Effective but doesn’t work when taken just before egg release9 Pharmacy or doctor’s prescription
Copper intrauterine device (IUD) A small T-shaped device that is fitted inside your womb by a doctor10 As soon as possible, and within 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure9 Effective and has in addition the advantage of providing regular contraception as soon as it is in place1 Doctor’s prescription

If you are not sure which is right for you, ask a pharmacist or other healthcare professional.


Is emergency contraception right for me?

Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.1 It has to be used as soon as possible.1

If you’ve had unprotected sex within the last 5 days, and it is not the right time in your life to have a baby, you are right to consider emergency contraception.

Have you had unprotected sex?

  • Did the condom slip off or break?
  • Did you forget to:

– Take your contraceptive pill?

– Insert your contraceptive ring?

– Apply your contraceptive patch?

  • Did your diaphragm or cap slip or did you forget to use it?
  • Did he fail to pull out in time?
  • Did you forget to use any contraception?
  • Were you forced to have sex without contraception?


My emergency contraception options

In Europe, there are two different emergency contraceptive options:

  • Tablet ‘the morning-after pill’ for oral use
  • Intrauterine device to be fitted in the womb