Your worries about the Morning After Pill answered

Morning after pills: ellaOne and Levonelle pack photos

As with every type of medicine, there are natural worries that come with taking the morning after pill. If you’re worried about it then you can bet that someone else will be too. You’re not alone. So we’ve put together the answers to the most common questions to put your mind at ease.

Please also read our medical information and morning after pill FAQs.

Can I still become pregnant if I have taken the morning after pill?

As much as we’d love every form of contraception to be 100% effective, unfortunately this just isn’t the case. Two types of morning after pill are commonly used in the UK – Levonelle and ellaOne, with ellaOne being slightly more effective.

If taken within the first 72 hours (3 days) after intercourse, pregnancy rates are close to 2 in 100 with Levonelle and if taken within 120 hours (5 days) 1.5 in 100 with ellaOne. The sooner you take either, the more effective it will be in preventing a pregnancy.

Will it work if I take it before sex?

There are other forms of contraception designed to be taken before sex to prevent pregnancy. The morning after pill isn’t one of them and should not be used in this way. The morning after pill is designed to be taken ONLY in an emergency – when another form of contraception has failed or been forgotten.

How do I know it’s worked?

The morning after pill may delay your period or make it arrive early. You only need to be concerned if your period is more than 5 days later than expected. A simple urine pregnancy test will be needed if your period is delayed by 5 or more days.

Can you take the morning after pill more than once?

Knowing that the morning after pill is an option after unprotected sex makes it tempting to get lazy with regular contraception. Not only is this not recommended, it is less effective and could be expensive.

A morning after pill should not be used more than once in the same menstrual cycle, but if you find you absolutely need to, speak to your GP or sexual health clinic about it first.

What about if you are already pregnant when you take it?

Don’t panic, the morning after pill will not cause harm to the baby, nor will it terminate the pregnancy. In fact, there is no known evidence of negative effects.

Does the morning after pill change your period?

Most contraceptive pills, implants or coils will have some sort of effect on your periods, but this is normal and is very unlikely to affect fertility now or later in life. You may experience menstrual bleeding before your next period is due. Early bleeding is usually a sign the pill has worked; so it is well to be prepared.

What about other side effects?

Serious side effects with morning after pills are infrequent. The more common side effects are headache, nausea, weariness, dizziness and more painful periods. You can find more information about side effects here.

Can it affect future fertility?

The chances of you getting pregnant in the future are not affected by the morning after pill. It is there to prevent the pregnancy on the occasion you take it, and will have no affect later in life.

Can the morning after pill be taken at any time during a period?

Don’t worry about the timing of your menstrual cycle when you take it, the key thing to remember is just to take it as soon as possible. Is more effective taken early after intercourse.

Should I stop my regular form of contraception?

If you are taking hormonal contraception in the form of a contraceptive pill, patch or vaginal ring, you will need to wait 5 days before using using it if you have taken ellaOne, as it may affect how well it works if taken together, however can start your usual hormonal contraception within 12 hours of taking levonelle. You will also need to use condoms in this time and for the first 7 days days of taking your usual contraception. The morning after pill does not prevent future pregnancies if you have unprotected sex after taking it.

If you’ve had unprotected sex and are worried about pregnancy you can get the morning after pill from your GP, sexual health clinic, or over the counter at a pharmacy. Standby supplies for just-in-case needs can be obtained from Dr Fox online clinic.

Please also read our medical information and morning after pill FAQs.