When should you use the morning after pill?
The morning after pill should only be used as emergency contraception as soon as possible after unprotected sex or failure of a different contraceptive method, such as a split condom.
The morning after pill is not as effective as a conventional method of regular contraception and is suitable only in emergencies. It should in no instance replace a regular contraceptive method. The patient information leaflet should be read carefully before use.
What emergency contraceptive treatments are available?
The most effective method to avoid pregnancy after unprotected sex is to have a copper coil inserted by a doctor or nurse. This can be done up to five days after unprotected sex and has the advantage of providing contraception on an ongoing basis. This approach is also more effective than taking the morning after pill. There are two commonly prescribed morning after pills available in the UK. Levonelle has been available for some time while EllaOne is a more recent introduction.
The important difference between the two treatments is that EllaOne is still effective if taken at a later time after the unprotected sex, compared to Levonelle.
Levonelle is an effective emergency contraceptive when taken within 72 hours (three days) of unprotected sex or failure of a contraceptive method. EllaOne is effective when taken up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex or failure of a contraceptive method. The dose should be taken as early as possible after unprotected sex. It is more likely to be effective the earlier it is taken.
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