Got a question about ellaOne®? Wondering how the morning after pill really works? Heard something worrying about side effects and want to get an answer you can trust? You’re in the right place.
Some people can find the experience of taking emergency contraception nerve-wracking, and often that’s because they don’t have all of the facts. A lot of people were never taught about the morning after pill, meaning that there are lots of harmful myths and misunderstandings out there that can stop people from accessing emergency contraception.
At ellaOne®, we believe that by educating people about this type of contraception we can overcome the stigma and fear associated with it. That’s why we’ve put together a set of no-nonsense answers to your most frequently asked questions about ellaOne®.
ellaOne® is an oral emergency contraceptive pill (a.k.a. morning after pill) containing ulipristal acetate. If you have had unprotected sex, or your contraception has failed, taking ellaOne® can help prevent unplanned pregnancy.
No other morning after pill is more effective than ellaOne®, and it can be effective for up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. However, like all morning after pills, it is more effective the sooner you take it.
For more information about ellaOne®, check out All you need to know about ellaOne®.
When you have unprotected sex, sperm travel from the vagina, through the cervix and up the fallopian tubes where they wait for an egg to be fertilised. ellaOne® helps prevent or delay ovulation (the egg being released) until all the sperm have died (5 days), so there is no egg for them to meet and so pregnancy can not occur.
ellaOne® can be purchased at most leading pharmacies in Ireland. You don’t need a prescription to buy ellaOne®. The pharmacist, or another trained member of the pharmacy team, will need to ask you some questions before giving you the medicine, to ensure that it is suitable for you. For more information, and to find out whether ellaOne® is suitable for you, please see How to buy ellaOne® in the pharmacy.
Find out more about buying ellaOne® online here.
Don’t forget you can also buy ellaOne® in advance, before going on holiday for example, or to keep in your medicine cabinet, just in case.
ellaOne® works by delaying ovulation, so if you have already ovulated it will not have any effect.
That said, ovulation is very difficult to accurately predict, can vary from month to month, and is affected by all sorts of factors including stress, travel and diet. So if you think you may have ovulated but aren’t 100% sure, ellaOne® might still be an option for you. We advise that you talk to your pharmacist or GP if you want to use ellaOne®, but are worried you may have ovulated.
If you have had unprotected sex at the point of ovulation, the copper intrauterine device (copper coil) is the only emergency contraceptive that could still be effective.
No. ellaOne® works by delaying ovulation. It cannot stop implantation, or have any effect if you have already ovulated.
The copper intrauterine device (copper coil) can stop implantation. The copper coil works by releasing copper into the womb, altering the cervical mucus which makes it difficult for sperm to survive, and changing the lining of the uterus making implantation very difficult.
ellaOne® can delay ovulation for at least 5 days (120 hours). 5 days is the lifespan of a sperm once it enters the female reproductive system, so a dose of ellaOne® delays ovulation until the sperm have died and are no longer able to fertilise an egg. Because ovulation is very unpredictable, it should be taken as soon as possible after sexual intercourse for it to be most effective.
A single dose of ellaOne® is only effective for a single incident of unprotected sex: it won’t continue to protect you if you have unprotected sex again after taking ellaOne®.
No. If you are already pregnant, there is no evidence that ellaOne® will have any affect – harmful or otherwise – on the baby. ellaOne® cannot terminate an existing pregnancy. One of the most common myths about the morning after pill, is that it causes a ‘mini abortion’, however this is incorrect. The morning after pill delays or prevents ovulation, it does not terminate or interrupt an existing pregnancy.
If you suspect you might already be pregnant, then the pharmacist or healthcare professional will ask that you take a pregnancy test before they give you ellaOne®, to make sure this is not the case.
If you have taken ellaOne® while pregnant, you should contact your GP immediately.
You may be able to take ellaOne® twice in the same cycle. If you find yourself in this situation, you should discuss what’s happened with your pharmacist or GP who will be able to advise you.
Taking ellaOne® can only prevent pregnancy for a single incident of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. It will not continue to protect you, so if you have unprotected sex again in the same cycle after taking ellaOne®, you may need to take another dose.
If you find yourself taking ellaOne® multiple times in one cycle, you might want to discuss finding a regular contraceptive method that works for you with a healthcare professional. ellaOne® is intended only for use in emergencies, not as an alternative to regular contraception. ellaOne® can only protect against unplanned pregnancy, it won’t protect you against STIs.
Once you take it, ellaOne® works by delaying ovulation. ellaOne® is most effective the sooner you take it, as reduces the chances that you will ovulate in the time between having unprotected sex and taking emergency contraception.
Generally, ellaOne® is well tolerated but, like any medicine, some people experience side effects after taking ellaOne®. For more information about potential side effects, please see here.
It is important to remember that ellaOne® is only effective for a specific instance of unprotected sex. Taking ellaOne® will not protect you for future occasions of unprotected sex. Your fertility will return to normal very quickly, and you should use a condom until your next period arrives, even if you are using a hormonal method of contraception like the pill.
You can have sex after taking ellaOne®, but you should use a condom if you’re not trying to get pregnant. One dose of ellaOne® is only effective for one incident of unprotected sex, it will not protect you against anything in the future.
ellaOne® delays ovulation for 5 days which is the same as a sperm’s lifespan, so any sperm that enter the female reproductive system after taking ellaOne®, they may still be alive – and able to fertilise an egg – by the time ellaOne® is no longer effective.
If you have taken ellaOne® because of an accident with regular hormonal contraception – like missing a pill – it is still recommended to use a condom until your next period arrives, as your regular contraception may be less effective.
You can continue taking the oral contraceptive pill after taking ellaOne®, but it might not be as effective until after your next period. You should use a condom until then.
If you were not taking regular oral contraception (the pill) before, but you would like to start, you should speak to your GP or pharmacist. They can advise you on the different types and when is the best time in your cycle to start taking it. Make sure that they know when you took ellaOne®.
Regardless of whether you choose to start taking a regular oral contraceptive pill, you should still use a condom until your next period.
The morning after pill can delay your period, or in some cases make it earlier than usual. Try not to panic if its a few days late – this is not uncommon.
If your period is more than seven days late after taking ellaOne® or if it is unusually heavy or light, you may want to take a pregnancy test, or talk to your GP or Pharmacist.
ellaOne® will only affect the cycle you’re in when you take it: meaning that it can make your next period lighter or heavier, earlier or later than usual. However by the time of your next menstrual cycle (e.g. after your period) everything should return to normal.
Some people may also experience irregular bleeding after taking ellaOne®. If you are unsure whether this bleeding is your period or not, you can take a pregnancy test 21 days after the unprotected sex took place to check whether you are pregnant or not.
Some people might experience stomach pain after taking ellaOne®. This is normally quite mild and should ease off, however if the pain becomes intense, or it concerns you, you should seek medical advice immediately.
If you vomit within three hours of taking the morning after pill, consult your pharmacist or sexual health clinic as you may need to take another dose for the emergency contraception to be effective.
If you are concerned at all about side effects and this is putting you off taking the MAP, then please do talk to your pharmacist or other healthcare professional who can listen to your concerns and advise you.
For more information about side effects and ellaOne®, click here.
Some people report PMS-like symptoms after using ellaOne®, which are sometimes compared to how you might feel in the early stages of pregnancy.
If you experience any persistent symptoms of pregnancy (such as breast tenderness, feeling or being sick, and tiredness) after taking ellaOne®, you should consider taking a pregnancy test to be sure and speak to a GP or pharmacist. Pregnancy tests can be taken from the first day of a missed period, or 21 days after unprotected sex.
There is no known interaction between ellaOne® and alcohol, and there is no evidence that drinking alcohol after taking ellaOne® would make it any less effective.
We hope that we’ve answered all your questions about ellaOne®, if you have a question that you can’t see answered here, try: All you need to know about ellaOne® or contact HRA Pharma directly.