Morning After Pill
Request the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy. Up to 98% effective when taken correctly.
No face-to-face appointments, just discreet online consultations
Treatments that are up to 98% effective in preventing pregnancy
Free, discreet delivery as standard
If you have had unprotected sex and are worried about being pregnant, the Morning After Pill can help. The Morning After Pill is taken in tablet form after you’ve had sex and can help stop you from becoming pregnant. Two of the most popular types are ellaOne and Levonelle.
You can also order the morning after pill for future use, so you can have it on hand just in case you need it.
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How it Works
More Information about the Morning After Pill
What is the morning after pill?
The Morning After Pill, also known as 'Emergency Contraception' or 'Plan B, is a pill taken after sex to prevent pregnancy. You may need to use this when you have unprotected sex, have forgotten to take your usual contraception, or if your contraception fails (like when a condom splits).
Depending on the type of pill chosen, you can take the Morning After Pill up to 5 days after unprotected sex. However, the earlier it is taken, the better the chances of avoiding pregnancy. The two main types of Morning After Pill are ellaOne and Levonelle. Both are only effective when taken before ovulation happens.
The Morning After Pill should not be used as your usual method of contraception, as it is more risky and expensive when compared to other contraceptives, like the Contraceptive Pill.
How does the morning after pill work?
The Morning After Pill works by stopping or delaying the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). This stops the egg from being fertilised or from implanting. ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate, which delays or stops ovulation (the release of an egg). It lasts for as long as 5 days, allowing all the sperm to die off and preventing pregnancy from taking place. ellaOne must be taken within 5 days of unprotected sex.
Levonelle contains a man-made version of the hormone progesterone called levonorgestrel, which also delays or stops ovulation from occurring. Levonelle should be taken within 3 days of unprotected sex.
How effective is the Morning After Pill?
Both ellaOne and Levonelle are only effective when taken before ovulation has taken place. Levonelle is not as effective at certain points in your cycle, while ellaOne remains effective a little longer into your period.
Levonelle is 95% effective when taken in the first 24 hours. This drops to 85% by the second day and 58% effective by the third day. ellaOne is 98% effective and can still be taken for up to 5 days after sex, but you should take it as soon as possible.
Morning after pill comparison
|Overall chance of not getting pregnant when used*
|Effective up to
|Acts as long term contraceptive after use?
|Affected by taking the pill or any progesterone containing medication in the last 7 days?
|Affected by weight or BMI?
|Yes >85kg or BMI >30
|Yes >70kg or BMI >26
* Not all women are at risk of pregnancy when they have unprotected sex.
How to take the morning after pill
Levonelle can be taken up to 3 days after unprotected sex. ellaOne can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. Both only work if taken before ovulation has taken place. Since it can be difficult to tell when ovulation has occurred, it is best to take the Morning After Pill as soon as possible for better chances of preventing pregnancy.
How many times can you take the Morning After Pill?
Both ellaOne and Levonelle are taken as a single tablet. There is no limit on the number of times that you can take the Morning After Pill, but if you have already used one type, you may not be able to use the other one. You should not take Levonelle if you have used ellaOne in the last 5 days. You should not take ellaOne if you have used Levonelle in the last 7 days. This is because of potential interactions between both medications.
If you find that you regularly need to use the Morning After Pill more than once in a cycle, you may want to consider another option, like an intrauterine device (IUD). This is the most effective form of emergency contraception and can be used as regular contraception going forward. Using regular contraception, such as the contraceptive pill, is more effective for protecting against pregnancy than taking the Morning After Pill.
What if I vomit after taking the Morning After Pill?
If you vomit within 3 hours of taking the emergency contraceptive pill, you will need to take another dose as soon as possible. If you vomit again, it may mean that the Morning After Pill is unsuitable for you. You should visit your GP or a family planning clinic as soon as possible for another type of emergency contraception.
Where can I get the morning after pill?
The Morning After Pill can be ordered online through Superdrug Online Doctor. You just need to complete our quick and easy online questionnaire, and our doctors will review your information and make sure the Morning After Pill you ordered is right for you. You can have your medication delivered to an address of your choice, or you can collect it from a Superdrug store or post office.
Can I get the Morning After Pill over the counter?
Yes, you can get the Morning After Pill over the counter at most pharmacies. You will need to go through a consultation with the pharmacist on your options, which will be similar to our online questionnaire. You must be 16 years or older to buy it.
Where to get the Morning After Pill for free
If you’re looking for the Morning After Pill for free, you can get it from:
- the NHS
- sexual health clinics
- genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
- some GP surgeries
- some accident and emergency (A&E) departments
With most of the above options, you will need to either call ahead to confirm availability or book an appointment. Superdrug Online Doctor lets you easily and quickly buy the Morning After Pill from home. You do not need to physically see the doctor, and you can have the pill delivered within 24 hours, or collect it from a Superdrug pharmacy on the same day.
Can I get the emergency contraceptive pill in advance?
If you are worried about being able to get emergency contraception, you can order it in advance. This can happen if travelling or if you have concerns about your regular contraception failing. You do not need a prescription to order the Morning After Pill. You can consult with our online doctors for more information on your emergency and usual options of contraception.
Morning-after pill side effects
The Morning After Pill does not cause any serious or long term side effects. It can however cause some mild and passing side effects, mostly dependent on which stage of your menstrual cycle they were taken. The side effects will usually pass without you needing any treatment.
ellaOne side effects can cause:
- abdominal pain
- painful periods
- breast tenderness
- muscle pain
- back pain
Levonelle side effects can cause:
- lower abdominal pain
- irregular bleeding on your next period
- shortening or lengthening of your next period
When taken early on in your period, Levonelle may cause the cycle to get shorter. It might delay the start of your next period or have no effect if taken later on in the cycle. Most women will have their period on time.
The Morning After Pill may also cause unusual bleeding and you may have some spotting. This may continue until your next period. There is no cause for concern unless the bleeding is excessive or does not stop. If your period is more than 5 days late then you should consult a doctor.
Other emergency contraception options
An intrauterine device (IUD) can be used as alternative emergency contraception. It is 99.9% effective in preventing pregnancy. An IUD is a small T-shaped copper and plastic device that is placed in the womb (uterus) by a specially trained nurse or doctor.
As the copper releases, it prevents the egg from becoming fertilised or becoming implanted even when it meets sperm. It can be used as a long term method of contraception and as emergency contraception within five days of unprotected sex. However, like the Morning After Pill, the quicker it is used, the better it is at preventing pregnancy.
An IUD can last as long as 5 to 10 years. It can have some side effects in the early months, including:
- mild to moderate pain during insertion
- irregular bleeding
- heavier bleeding
- painful periods
When properly inserted, an IUD carries little risk of infection. There is also a small risk of your body moving or pushing out the device. Your doctor or nurse will advise you on how to check on its placement.
The effects of a copper IUD are easily undone when it is taken out by a specially trained nurse or doctor. Once removed, you can get pregnant straight away. While a safe form of contraception, IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To protect against STIs you will need to use condoms.
Morning after pill FAQs
Can you get pregnant after taking the Morning After Pill?
Yes. A small number of women will still get pregnant after taking the Morning After Pill. Your chances of preventing pregnancy are boosted the faster you take the pill after unprotected sex. ellaOne is 98% effective while Levonelle is 95% effective if taken in the first 24 hours.
A review in 2017 showed that 0.6 to 2.6% of women that took Levonelle and 1 to 2% of those that took ellaOne still got pregnant. The stage you are at in your menstrual cycle can also impact how well it works because the Morning After Pill works when ovulation has not yet happened.
What happens if I take Morning After Pill when pregnant?
The Morning After Pill only prevents pregnancy within the first 5 days after unprotected sex. It cannot cause an abortion and it does not lead to an increased risk of birth defects in an unborn child. Taking the Morning After Pill by mistake when pregnant will not end the pregnancy.
Can I take my normal contraceptive pill at the same time as the Morning After Pill?
If you have taken the Morning After Pill because of a problem with your usual contraceptive (like missed pills), the effect on your usual contraceptive pill will depend on which Morning After Pill you have taken. If you took ellaOne, you should wait at least 5 days before taking your normal contraceptive pill. If you took Levonelle, you should resume the normal schedule of taking your contraceptive pill within 12 hours of taking emergency contraception. There are no drug reactions or other problems to worry about. However, your usual contraception may not be effective straight away, so you need to check with your doctor how long to use extra precautions for (condoms, or avoiding sex).
Is it ok to breastfeed and take the Morning After Pill?
If you have taken ellaOne, the manufacturer recommends not breastfeeding for at least a week afterwards. This is because we do not know yet what effect taking ellaOne might have on breastfeeding.
Levonelle is safe to take while breastfeeding. A small amount of the hormone may pass into breast milk but is not thought to be harmful to babies.
I have just had a baby. Do I need to take the Morning After Pill?
You can get pregnant within a few weeks of having a baby, even if you are still breastfeeding and have not started having your period again. Ovulation can take place as early as 2 weeks before your period starts. This means you can get pregnant even before your period has started again. You can use the Morning After Pill at any time after your baby is born, as long as you follow the guidelines about breastfeeding.
I've just had a miscarriage/abortion. Can I take the Morning After Pill?
If you have unprotected sex after a miscarriage or abortion, you may still be able to get pregnant. You may take the Morning After Pill to prevent pregnancy if you have had unprotected sex.
Will my weight affect the Morning After Pill?
Your weight can affect how well the Morning After Pill works. The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) Clinical Guideline says that women should be aware that a high BMI can make emergency contraceptive pills less effective, especially Levonelle. However, the evidence for this is not conclusive and we recommend consulting with one of our online doctors to answer your questions.
Can I get the emergency contraceptive pill in advance?
Yes. You can order the emergency contraceptive pill in advance. This may be needed if you plan to travel, are worried about your normal contraception failing, or if you think you might find it difficult to get emergency contraception. Emergency contraception can be bought online or over the counter at most pharmacies. You can consult our online doctors to find out more information.
- ellaOne PACKAGE LEAFLET: INFORMATION FOR THE USER (2018) HRA Pharma [Accessed 24-06-21]
- Emergency contraception (2018) Terrence Higgins Trust [Accessed 24-06-21]
- Emergency contraception review: evidence-based recommendations for clinicians (2015) Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology [Accessed 24-06-21]
- FSRH Clinical Guideline: Emergency Contraception (March 2017, amended December 2020) (2020) FSRH [Accessed 24-06-21]
- How effective is emergency contraception? (2019) NHS [Accessed 24-06-21]
- Maternal use of oral contraceptives and risk of birth defects in Denmark: prospective, nationwide cohort study (2016) BMJ [Accessed 24-06-21]
- The efficacy of intrauterine devices for emergency contraception: a systematic review of 35 years of experience (2012) Human Reproduction [Accessed 24-06-21]
- Ulipristal acetate versus levonorgestrel for emergency contraception: a randomised non-inferiority trial and meta-analysis (2010) The Lancet [Accessed 24-06-21]