Morning After Pill Side Effects

What are the side effects of the Morning After Pill?

Like most medications, the morning after pill can cause side effects in some women. Whether you have just taken the morning after pill or are going to use it in the future, it is good if you know what to look out for.

Which side effects are common?

The morning after pill contains similar hormones as your normal

contraceptive pill, just in a higher dose. That way, it can prevent pregnancy even when you have had unprotected sex. Due to the higher dose of hormones, it is more likely to cause noticeable side effects. Some women who take the morning after pill for example experience abdominal pain after taking it. In some cases, the morning after pill also causes nausea, headache or tiredness.

It is also not unusual for women who have recently taken it to experience spotting or bleeding. If the morning after pill makes you vomit, you need to contact your doctor or pharmacist, as you may need to take another one.

Which side effects do different brands cause?

There are two commonly prescribed brands of the morning after pill: EllaOne and Levonelle.

EllaOne - Common side effects:

  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • upper abdominal pain
  • abdominal discomfort
  • breast tenderness
  • headache, dizziness
  • painful menses,
  • pelvic pain
  • tiredness
  • mood swings
  • muscle pain
  • back pain

Levonelle - Very common and common side effects:

  • feeling sick
  • lower abdominal pain
  • irregular bleeding until your next period.
  • tiredness
  • being sick

What happens when you take the morning after pill?

When you take the morning after pill, the hormone it contains prevents you getting pregnant. It does so by thickening the mucus at the entrance to the womb (so that sperm can’t get to the egg), altering the lining of your womb (so an egg can’t implant) and by preventing ovulation.

The morning after pill and bleeding

It is not unusual for the morning after pill to cause irregular bleeding. You may notice some spotting or unusual bleeding, which may persist until your next period. You don’t need to worry about the bleeding unless it becomes excessive or if it doesn’t stop.

Does the morning after pill affect my period?

The morning after pill may not only cause irregular spotting and bleeding but it may also have an impact on your next period. Although most women still have their period on time, you may have it several days later or earlier than usual. If your period is more than five days late you should speak to a doctor who will check whether you are pregnant. The same applies if you have a very light or heavy period.

Is the morning after pill safe?

It is safe to take the morning after pill in situations where you need emergency contraception. Both morning after pills were found to be safe in medical trials. 
In very rare cases, some patients develop an allergic reaction to the hormone in the morning after pill. If you encounter symptoms of an allergic reaction, see a doctor without delay. Signs of an allergic reaction can include an itchy rash or facial swellings.

Is the morning after pill bad for you?

The morning after pill can cause side effects but it is very rare for it to cause any serious health problems. However, it is not suitable for regular use and you should avoid using it on a regular basis. 

When do I need to see a doctor?

You need to speak to a doctor after taking a morning after pill if:

  • you experience an allergic reaction (may cause skin rash, facial swellings and difficulty breathing)
  • your next period is more than 5 days late or very light
  • you have had unprotected sex with someone who may have a sexually transmitted disease
  • you vomit or have diarrhoea within three hours of taking the tablet
  • you experience side effects which bother you or which persist after the treatment

Patient Reviews

Further Reading on Emergency Contraception