Levonelle or ellaOne?
10th May 2019
While there may be a variety of regular contraceptive methods available to help protect women against pregnancy, it’s also important that there are options when it comes to emergency contraception. Of course, you should be practising safe sex but everyone knows that accidents can occur and things can happen in the moment.
The morning after pill
So you’ve had sex but you’re not on a hormone contraceptive (the pill, the IUD, the coil) and you either forget to use a condom or you remembered to use one but it broke or came off part way through. What next?
If pregnancy isn’t something you want in your life right now then the morning after pill is available in order to prevent this from happening. The morning after pill works very similarly to the contraceptive pill in that it contains synthetic hormones to change or delay your menstrual cycle in order to protect against pregnancy. The major difference is that the contraceptive pill is taken as a preventative measure (before you have sex) and the morning after pill is taken as a counteractive measure (after you’ve had unprotected sex).
The morning after pill is a valuable option for women because not only does it provide them with peace of mind in potentially worrying situations, but it also helps them to avoid the distress of falling pregnant when they don’t want to be. In turn, this also helps women to avoid abortions, which can be physically and emotionally taxing.
So in times where you need the morning after pill, which one do you choose? Because there are two effective choices.
Levonelle is a morning after pill that can be used up to 72 hours after having unprotected sex. It works because it contains the substance, levonorgestrel, which is a synthetic hormone. This prevents your ovaries from releasing an egg, so that’s nothing for a sperm to fertilise. It does have a dual action though, because if an egg has already been released then it also helps to stop the sperm from fertilising it.
In order to help maximise the effectiveness of Levonelle, you should take it as soon as possible and preferably within 12 hours. Even though the drug works for 72 hours after sex, its effectiveness decreases the longer you leave it, with it having the lowest chance of protecting you against pregnancy if you take it at the full 72 hours afterwards. Once you work it out as an average, Levonelle has an 84% chance of preventing unexpected pregnancies overall.
As the name suggests, the morning after pill comes as a single tablet to be taken as soon after unprotected sex as possible. You take it by swallowing it whole with a drink of water, with or without food. Before taking it however, you will need to obtain a prescription for it, as you cannot buy Levonelle over the counter. If you struggle to get appointments at your doctor's then you can put your trust in UK Meds, as we provide a doctor and prescription service inclusive. This means that the price you pay for the medication is the final price you pay and you will not have to worry about being charged anything extra.
Of course, there isn’t just the one option when it comes to the morning after pill. ellaOne is fairly comparable in terms of how it works and how you take it. The single tablet (taken by swallowing with some water) contains 30mg of ulipristal acetate, which is a substance that modifies the activity of your natural hormones to postpone ovulation. This means that it’s much harder for a sperm to fertilise an egg, effectively protecting you against pregnancy.
The main difference between Levonelle and ellaOne is the time frame in which you can take it. While Levonelle gives you a fairly reasonable leeway of 72 hours, ellaOne gives you much more peace of mind as you can take it up to 5 days after unprotected sex. This means that if you have sex without using protection on the Friday night, you will be able to take ellaOne all the way up until Wednesday and still have a high chance of preventing pregnancy.
Whereas the effectiveness of Levonelle starts to decrease after 12 hours of unprotected sex, ellaOne is thought to maintain its 95% effectiveness rate all the way up until the end of the 5 day window. This is a massive positive point because work and general day to day life can often stand in the way of you being able to get (and take) the morning after pill within 12 hours so it’s good to have options.
Another major difference between the two morning after pills is that while Levonelle requires a prescription, ellaOne does not. The latter option can be purchased from any pharmacy (including those operating online, like UK Meds) and for this reason (as well as the extended time window of opportunity), it is the morning after pill of choice for many women.
What else do I need to do after having unprotected sex?
So you’ve taken the morning after pill and you feel as though you can now relax. But sexual health is not just about pregnancy and the morning after pill in no way protects you against STI’s such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea. It’s good practise to have yourself tested every year or after every new sexual partner anyway, but after having unprotected sex it’s even more important to get checked. There are a number of options for doing this, including a visit to your GP, a visit to your local sexual health clinic or a self-test kit that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Even though the morning after pill is highly effective, it (like all other methods of contraception) is not 100% guaranteed. For this reason, you should pay attention to your menstrual cycle for that month and if your period doesn’t come then you should do a pregnancy test. If you are pregnant then you’ll be able to discuss your options with a doctor.
If you are not pregnant then you should perhaps look into more long term contraceptive options. While the morning after pill is a valuable option for women, it should be used rarely and not relied upon regularly. ellaOne cannot be used more than once in the same menstrual cycle and although Levonelle can be, it’s not advised. If you find yourself needing the morning after pill more than once then you should look into options such as the contraceptive pill (combined or mini), the IUD, the contraceptive patch, the coil or the contraceptive vaginal ring. All are very valid options and have shown to be highly effective (when used properly) but it’s all about finding the one that suits you, your lifestyle and your body.