How long is the morning after pill effective for?
The two most common emergency contraceptive pills are Levonelle and Ellaone. The time frame within which they work differs:
Needs to be taken within 72 hours of sex.
Its effectiveness decreases with time. Levonelle is:
- 95% effective if taken within 24 hours of sex
- 85% if taken between 25 - 48 hours
- 58% if taken between 48- 72 hours
Ellaone needs to be taken within 120 hours (5 days) of sex.
It is 95% effective if taken between 48 and 120 hours after sex.
The morning after pill is less reliable than the contraceptive pill or the condom. You should only take it in emergencies and use contraception every time you have sex.
There are a number of factors which can reduce its effectiveness.
Can you get pregnant after taking the morning after pill?
As with most contraceptives, there remains a risk that you could become pregnant. However, if you take the morning after pill within the correct time frame, this risk is small. In order to reduce your risk of pregnancy you should take the pill as soon after sex as possible.
It is not unusual for the morning after pill to affect your periods. You may find that your next period is lighter or late. If you miss your next period or subsequent periods are very light, you should visit a doctor to check whether you are pregnant.
Top tips for taking the morning after pill
1. The sooner you take the morning after pill, the better.
Don’t leave any more time than necessary between having unprotected sex and taking the morning after pill. The sooner you take it, the more likely it is to be effective.
2. If you have diarrhoea or vomit after taking it, consult a doctor.
If you are sick or have severe diarrhoea after taking the morning after pill, there is a risk that it won’t work. If this happens, you need to consult a doctor as soon as possible to check whether you need to take a second pill.
3. Make sure you mention any medication you are taking to your pharmacist or doctor.
Certain medications and remedies can stop the morning after pill from working. Before you take the morning after pill, inform your prescribing doctor or your pharmacist of any medication you have recently taken.