What is the Morning after Pill?
The ‘morning after pill‘ is the name most people use for a pill which can be taken after intercourse to prevent pregnancy. It is usually taken the ‘morning after’ intercourse and hence the name.
The proper name for the Morning after Pill is Levonelle. Levonelle is a single dose tablet that will prevent pregnancy if taken in the first 72 hours (three days) after unprotected intercourse.
How to order
The morning after pill is a form of emergency contraception. It is used where regular contraception has failed or has not been used. It does not replace regular contraception with the contraceptive pill or condoms or diaphragm because it is not as effective or reliable.
How does it work?
The morning after pill (Levonelle) contains the same sort of hormone present in ‘mini pills’ at a larger dose.
Levonelle works to prevent pregnancy in 3 different ways:
- It can prevent the release of an egg from the ovary
- It can prevent the sperm fertilising the egg
- It can prevent the egg from implanting in the womb
This combination of effects prevents most unwanted pregnancies if the morning after pill is taken early enough.
How effective is the morning after pill?
When taken within 24 hours of unprotected intercourse it is 95% effective. When taken at 72 hours (three days) after intercourse it is 58% effective.
This means it is best to take the Morning after Pill as early as possible. It also means that when taken after 72 hours it is far from 100% effective. If taken late it fails to work about 4 in 10 times.
Side effects of the Morning after Pill (Levonelle side effects)
The side effects of the Morning after Pill include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pains, dizziness, headache, fatigue, diarrhoea and irregular or delayed period bleeding.
If the next period is delayed by a few days or more a pregnancy test should be performed.
If a woman becomes pregnant after taking the morning after pill and there is heavy vaginal bleeding and low abdominal pain the diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy should be considered.
If there is vomiting within 30 minutes of taking Levonelle a repeat dose is required.
Buying the Morning after Pill
The morning after pill can be bought and kept as a standby for use when it is needed. It can be ordered online from Dr Fox for less than from most pharmacies.
It is available from some pharmacies without a prescription at a recommended price of £25.00. In some areas emergency contraception with Levonelle is supplied after intercourse free to under-25s.
Standby emergency contraception
Women who are likely to need the Morning after Pill who would have difficulty getting to a doctor or pharmacy at short notice may choose to have a standby supply. Women who are planning a prolonged trip overseas sometimes choose to carry the Morning after Pill with them.
Where the Morning after Pill fails to prevent pregnancy no harm will have been done to the pregnancy.