Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if your contraceptive method has failed – for example, a condom has split or you’ve missed a pill. Burns Chemist can supply the Levonelle pill which has to be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of sex. The pill works by preventing or delaying ovulation (release of an egg).
How the emergency pill works
Levonelle contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic version of the natural hormone progesterone. In a woman’s body, progesterone plays a role in ovulation and preparing the uterus for accepting a fertilised egg.
It’s not known exactly how Levonelle works, but it’s thought to work primarily by preventing or delaying ovulation. You can take Levonelle more than once in a menstrual cycle*. It does not interfere with your regular method of contraception.
How effective is the emergency pill at preventing pregnancy?
A study published in 2010 showed that of 1,696 women who received the emergency pill within 72 hours of sex, 98% did not become pregnant.*(1) Of 203 women who took the emergency pill between 72 and 120 hours after unprotected sex, there were three pregnancies.
How it affects your period
After taking the emergency contraceptive pill, most women will have a normal period at the expected time. However, you may have your period later or earlier than normal.
If your period is more than seven days late, or is unusually light or short, contact your GP as soon as possible to check for pregnancy.
Who can use the emergency pill?
Most women can use the emergency contraceptive pill. This includes women who cannot usually use hormonal contraception, such as the combined pill and contraceptive patch.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
There is no evidence that Levonelle harms a developing baby. It can be used even if there has been an earlier episode of unprotected sex in the menstrual cycle in addition to the current episode. Levonelle can be taken while breastfeeding. Although small amounts of the hormones contained in the pill may pass into your breast milk, it is not thought to be harmful to your baby.
What are the side effects of using the emergency pill?
Taking the emergency contraceptive pill has not been shown to cause any serious or long-term health problems. However, it can sometimes have side effects. Common side effects include:
- abdominal (tummy) pain
- irregular menstrual bleeding (spotting or heavy bleeding) before your next period is due
- feeling sick
Less common side effects include:
- breast tenderness
- vomiting (seek medical advice if you vomit within two hours of taking Levonelle, or three hours of taking ellaOne, as you will need to take another dose or have an IUD fitted)
*Conditions apply. *(1)Please call 020 8534 3179 for more information