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The morning after pill - does it work?

Posted 12 August 2021 in Womens health

Range of Morning After Pill medicationsIf you’re looking for emergency contraception right now then you’ve probably got a few questions like:

  • Does it work?
  • How well does it work?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • Where can I get this near me in the U.K.?

This article aims to answer all of these questions for you.

How does the morning after pill work? And is it effective?

The good news is the morning after pill is very effective. Though the effectiveness decreases the longer you wait after sex.

There are two standard drugs used in the UK as emergency contraception that can be bought over the counter without a prescription.

These drugs are Levonelle One Step and ellaOne.

Both prevent ovulation (egg release) by changing the levels of the female sex hormone progesterone. Preventing egg release means the egg cannot meet the sperm and fertilisation will not take place.

If you have already ovulated, these emergency contraceptive pills also thicken the mucus in the cervix (the neck of the womb), which makes it harder for sperm to cross from the vagina into the womb, and they change the lining of the womb so that any egg that has been fertilised, cannot implant into it.

The effectiveness of both options depends on whether you have already ovulated, and how many hours you wait before taking the morning after pill.

ellaOne is 98-99% effective if taken within 120 hours (5 days). The earlier you take it the more effective it will be.

Levonelle One Step and the cheaper product Levonorgestrel (on prescription), which has the same active ingredient, are more heavily time dependent than ellaOne. If you take Levonelle within 24 hours it is 95% effective, within 48 hours is 85% effective, within 72 hours it is 58% effective.

The effectiveness data is based on women taking the morning after pill before they have ovulated. And regardless of which option you choose, the faster you take the tablet after sex, the more effective it will be.

Morning after pill side effects

As with all medicines, ellaOne and Levonelle One Step (Levonorgestrel) may cause side effects, but neither medicine should affect your fertility in the long term.

The most common side effects for ellaOne

Side effects can include nausea, abdominal (stomach) pain or discomfort, vomiting, painful periods, pelvic pain, breast tenderness, headache, dizziness, mood swings, muscle pain, back pain, tiredness.             

The most common side effects for Levonelle One Step (Levonorgestrel)

Side effects can include feeling sick (nausea), irregular bleeding until your next period, lower abdominal pain, tiredness, headache.

Where can I get the morning after pill near me?

The easiest way to get the morning after pill is to visit your local pharmacy or to buy online from a reputable provider like us here at Webmed pharmacy.

Getting the morning after pill at your local pharmacy

You’ll be able to buy the morning after pill from a dispensing pharmacy. This is not something you can buy off the shelf.

You’ll have to answer a few questions so the pharmacist can check that you are buying the pill for the right reasons, and to check whether you need any support. This is usually done in a confidential room so you do not need to worry about being heard by anyone else. They do this all the time, so you don’t need to worry about feeling embarrassed or judged.

They will not sell the morning after pill to your partner.

If you can access a pharmacy today, this is your best option as ellaOne and Levonelle One Step are most effective the sooner they are taken after sex.

Getting the morning after pill online with next day delivery

You can buy ellaOne , Levonelle One Step and Levonorgestrel here at WebMed Pharmacy from our registered pharmacist Margaret or receive a prescription from our doctor Kate. You’ll still have to submit your medical details, but this is done via an electronic form.

And with discreet next day delivery if you order before 4pm to your home or a drop off location of your choice (not including Friday) this may be a more convenient option.


Levonelle patient leaflet:

ellaOne patient leaflet:

NHS Where can I get emergency contraception?:

Webmed Pharmacy. Morning after pill

Author: Gemma Boak

Medically reviewed by: Superintendent pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons)MRPharmS 12/12/21 

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