ellaOne Side Effects

ellaOne is a type of emergency contraception known as the morning after pill. It is used to prevent pregnancy if you have had unprotected sex. Like all medications, there is a chance that you may experience some side effects if you take ellaOne. These are often short-lived and can usually be managed at home. If you are struggling with unwanted side effects you should speak to your doctor for advice.

What Are the Common Side Effects of ellaOne?

Common side effects of taking ellaOne usually affect around 1 in 10 women. They include:

  • nausea or vomiting (feeling or being sick)
  • Stomach or pelvic pain and discomfort
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • mood swings
  • tiredness
  • muscle or back pain
  • breast tenderness
  • painful next period

What Are the Less Common Side Effects of ellaOne?

Uncommon side effects of taking ellaOne usually affect around 1 in 100 women. They include:

  • fever or chills
  • acne
  • itchy skin or changes to your skin
  • diarrhoea
  • heartburn
  • dry mouth
  • wind
  • irregular or unusual vaginal bleeding
  • changes to your period, such as heavier or prolonged periods
  • vaginal discharge or irritation
  • changes in sex drive
  • hot flushes
  • flu symptoms
  • changes in appetite
  • anxiety
  • trouble sleeping
  • migraine
  • changes in vision

Do Side Effects Mean ellaOne Has Worked?

Not everyone will get side effects from ellaOne and they are not an indication that the treatment has worked. A 2017 study found that only 1 to 2% of women who use ellaOne after unprotected sex still get pregnant, meaning that ellaOne is up to 98% effective.

How do I know if ellaOne has worked?

EllaOne is up to 98% effective but you will only know it has worked when you have your next period or take a pregnancy test. Sometimes, ellaOne delays your period by up to 7 days, which is normal and not cause for concern. You can take a pregnancy test 3 weeks after unprotected sex to confirm ellaOne has worked if you choose.

Can ellaOne Delay Your Period?

It is normal for your period to be delayed after taking ellaOne, sometimes by up to 7 days. It is important to know your monthly cycle if you have regular periods, so you can work out when your next period will be. Sometimes, ellaOne can make your period heavier or more painful. You should take a pregnancy test 3 weeks after any episodes of unprotected sex and make sure you have an up to date STI screen (and smear test if you are old enough) to rule out any other causes for changes to your period.

Why is my period late on ellaOne? Am I pregnant?

Sometimes ellaOne can delay your period by up to 7 days. This does not necessarily mean that the treatment hasn’t worked and that you are pregnant. You should take a pregnancy test 3 weeks after unprotected sex and especially if your period is later than 7 days or you have symptoms such as a very light or heavy period, breast tenderness, or nausea and vomiting.

How long do ellaOne side effects last?

The side effects of ellaOne are different for everybody. Most side effects should only last a few days, but changes to your period can sometimes last longer. Side effects such as period changes and breast tenderness can also be a sign of pregnancy, so if these last longer than a week, you should take a pregnancy test. 

What Should I do if I Have ellaOne Side Effects?

If you get common ellaOne side effects, you can usually manage these at home. You should speak to your doctor or visit A&E if you get any serious side effects, like an allergic reaction. Most side effects should not last more than a few days, but if you have any concerns then you should speak to your doctor.

Managing common side effects

The most common side effects of ellaOne are nausea and vomiting. If you vomit within 3 hours of taking the medication, you will need to speak to your doctor about taking another dose. To manage nausea we suggest:

  • eating smaller and more frequent meals
  • getting lots of fresh air
  • distracting yourself by doing something you enjoy
  • taking regular small sips of cold water, ginger, or peppermint tea
  • eating foods that contain ginger
  • avoiding large meals or meals full of spicy, fried, or greasy foods
  • not lying down right after eating
  • eating slowly
  • not drinking too much with meals

If you get headaches, you should try to rest and limit the time you spend on screens. If you get stomach pains or your period is painful or heavy, you can manage this by taking painkillers. You can get paracetamol and ibuprofen over the counter, or you can speak to your doctor if you think you need stronger painkillers.

When should I go to a doctor about my side effects?

You should contact a doctor immediately if you experience:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Swelling or tingling in or around your mouth
  • A widespread rash
  • Nausea and vomiting

If side effects last longer than a few days or you do not have a period after 7 days, speak to your doctor and take a pregnancy test. If you are experiencing side effects which are unmanageable then you should speak to your doctor.

How Can I Get ellaOne?

You can order ellaOne from Superdrug Online Doctor. You can choose to get ellaOne for immediate use if you’ve already had unprotected sex or for future use. EllaOne should not be used as a form of regular contraception as it’s less effective at preventing pregnancy and isn’t effective after you’ve ovulated.

To get ellaOne, you will need to complete a brief questionnaire. A doctor will review this, making sure that ellaOne is suitable for you. If approved, your treatment will then be delivered to you in discreet packaging. You can also choose to Click and Collect your treatment from your local Superdrug Pharmacy.


ellaOne 30 mg (2021) EMC (accessed 19 April 2022)

Emergency contraception (morning after pill, IUD) (2018) NHS (accessed 19 April 2022)

Feeling sick (nausea) (2021) NHS (accessed 19 April 2022)

How effective is emergency contraception? (2019) NHS (accessed 19 April 2022)

Period pain (2019) NHS (accessed 19 April 2022)

Further Reading On The Morning After Pill

Patient reviews