If you’ve had unprotected sex and are worried about an unwanted pregnancy, the morning after pill can help. When taken correctly and as soon as possible after unprotected sex, it can prevent pregnancy up to 99% of the time.  

The morning-after pill works by delaying ovulation, which stops your ovaries from releasing any eggs that can then be fertilised by sperm. While highly effective, it’s not uncommon to be nervous about whether the pill has worked or not. If you’ve taken emergency contraception and are feeling anxious, try to resist the temptation to take a pregnancy test right away. Instead, you should wait until you’re more likely to get accurate results. 

Does the Morning After Pill Always Work?

When taken quickly and correctly, the morning after pill can be up to 99% effective at preventing an unwanted pregnancy. It’s most effective when taken within the first 24 hours after you’ve had unprotected sex.

There are two main types of emergency contraceptive pills available in the UK, Levonelle and ellaOne.

Levonelle can be taken up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex. If you take it within the first 24 hours, it can be up to 99% effective. Within 25-48 hours, it’s up to 85% effective and within 49-72 hours it’s up to 58% effective.

ellaOne can be taken up to 120 hours (five days) after having unprotected sex. It’s believed to be up to 98% effective no matter when you take it during the 5 day window, but you should try to take it as soon as possible.

What Can Make the Morning After Pill Less Effective?

If you feel sick after taking your dose and throw up or have diarrhoea within 3 hours, your body may not have absorbed it. If this happens, speak to your GP or pharmacist right away because you may need a second dose.

It’s important to be honest about your weight when requesting the morning after pill because there’s some preliminary research that it isn't as effective in women who are overweight. Your prescriber can discuss any concerns you may have about emergency contraception if you have a BMI of 25 or higher.  

Some medications can prevent the morning after pill from working, including St John’s Wort, some antifungal medications, and HIV drugs and immune system suppressants.

ellaOne is a very reliable form of emergency contraception, but if you take proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux or indigestion, ellaOne can be less effective. Birth control with progesterone taken in the 7 days before or the 5 days after taking ellaOne can also make it less effective.

Benefits of the Morning After Pill

Emergency contraceptive pills are very simple and straightforward to take. They only need to be taken once to provide protection against unwanted pregnancy. Most women are able to take it, even those who normally can’t take hormonal birth control.

Some women may experience side effects, but if they do the symptoms tend to be mild and temporary. Emergency contraception doesn’t cause any long-term side effects and won’t impact your overall fertility. It also won’t stop an existing pregnancy.

Morning After Pill Side Effects

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Breast tenderness

Occasionally, the morning after pill may make your next period irregular or heavier than usual. You might also experience some spotting before your period.

When Should You Do a Pregnancy Test After Taking the Morning After Pill?

The only way to know for certain if the morning-after pill has effectively prevented pregnancy is to wait for your next period. If it doesn’t come around the time you expect it to, you may want to take a pregnancy test to check whether you are pregnant. It’s important to note, however, that sometimes the morning after pill can impact your next cycle so this could be why it hasn’t come on time.

Taking a pregnancy test before your expected period most likely won’t give you accurate results, especially if you take a test soon after your dose. Pregnancy tests work by checking your urine for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Your body will only produce this hormone when you become pregnant after a fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of your womb.

A certain amount of HCG needs to be present for pregnancy tests to detect it, so it’s always advisable to wait until you’ve missed a period to take a test. Some tests advertise that they can provide results before your expected period, but these results are not as accurate and you could end up with a false positive or a false negative. When taken correctly and at the right time, pregnancy tests can give you the correct results up to 99% of the time.

If your periods are irregular or you sometimes miss periods, you should wait at least 3 weeks after unprotected sex to take a test.

Where Can I Get the Morning After Pill?

The morning-after pill can be obtained from your GP surgery, GUM clinics, and pharmacies. Some NHS walk-in centers and minor injury units may also be able to dispense emergency contraception.

There’s no need to be embarrassed or nervous about requesting emergency contraception but if you need the morning-after pill and don’t want a face-to-face consultation, Pharmacy Planet can help. Our trusted online pharmacy can dispense emergency contraception safely, swiftly, and discreetly to your doorstep.

All you need to do is fill in a short assessment for our prescribers to review. Once they approve your request, we will dispatch your medication right away.

No matter whether your regular method of contraception has failed or you’ve had unprotected sex, the morning-after pill can help stop you from becoming pregnant. Emergency contraception has been used safely and effectively by women for years and is easily obtainable in the UK.

You can buy the morning-after pill online from Pharmacy Planet, a pharmacy you can trust. Visit Pharmacy Planet’s website today to buy Levonorgestrel tablets and the ellaOne pill online in the UK with swift despatch.