A question we often get asked at Smart Chemist is, how many times can I use the morning after pill in a month, or during the same menstrual cycle?
In order for us to answer this question we have to look at the different forms of emergency contraception that are currently available, and what the guidelines are for multiple use for each pill.
Emergency contraception, commonly referred to as the morning after pill, is a form of oral hormonal contraception which can be used to prevent the likelihood of pregnancy following unprotected sex. Although we always advise the practice of safe sex and the use of contraceptives including barrier methods (eg. condoms), all of us have been in a position were we may have got caught up in the moment, or our regular form of contraception has failed. In such a situation, if you or your partner is ovulating there is a high risk that they could become pregnant. However, for many people an unplanned pregnancy is not always desirable and sometimes it can be quite a scary prospect. In such circumstances emergency contraception is an effective way of reducing the chances of you or your partner becoming pregnant after having unprotected sex.
There are two main forms of the morning after pill which are currently available in the UK, Levonelle (Levonorgestrel 1.5mg) and ellaOne (ulipristal acetate). Both these forms of emergency contraception contain different active ingredients, however they work to produce the same results. Although their mode of action is slightly different, they work to reduce the chances of pregnancy by preventing ovulation and making sure the conditions are not suitable for implantation of a fertilized egg.
Levonelle – taken as a single dose of Levonorgestrel 1.5mg, it can be used up to 72 hours (3 days) after having unprotected sex. The effectiveness of Levonelle however starts to decline the later the medication is taken. If taken within the first 12-24 hours Levonelle can be up to 95% effective at preventing pregnancy, however between 48-72 hours this falls to almost 60%. An advantage of Levonelle however is that it can be used multiple times during the same menstrual cycle, and therefore can be used more than once in any given month. This means if you were to find find yourself in a similar situation 1-2 weeks later, Levonelle remains a viable option for you.
ellaOne – also taken as a single dose of Ulipristal acetate 30mg, it can be used up to 120 hours (5 days) after having unprotected sex. Unlike Levonelle, ellaOne remains up to 95% effectiveness up until day 5, meaning 24 hours after having unprotected sex, ellaOne is the most effective morning after pill at preventing the risk of pregnancy. For this reason, we always advise women for whom ellaOne is suitable, and not contraindicated, to use it as the morning after pill of choice in such a situation. Unlike Levonelle however, ellaOne can only be used once during the same menstrual cycle. This means that if you were to find yourself in a situation 1-2 weeks later were you’ve had unprotected sex however you are still in the same menstrual cycle, ellaOne would no longer be an option.
To conclude, both forms of emergency contraception have their own distinct advantages. Levonelle 1.5mg tablets can be used more than once in the same month (or menstrual cycle), whereas ellaOne can only be used a single time per cycle. Levonelle however is not as effective at preventing pregnancy after 24 hours, and can be used up to a maximum of 72 hours after unprotected sex. Whereas ellaOne is up to 95% up until day 5 (120 hours) following unprotected sex, and has a longer window of use.
If you’ve had unprotected sex or your regular form of contraception has failed and you require the morning after pill, you can buy Levonelle 1.5mg tablets and ellaOne 30mg tablets online at Smart Chemist, with next day delivery available. If you require a standby supply of the morning after pill for future use, you can buy ellaOne 30mg tablets and Levonelle 1.5mg tablets online at Smart Chemist through our discreet and confidential online pharmacy service. For more information click here or visit our website.