Ask Ella: Can You Take The Morning After Pill Multiple Times?
Did you know that 40% of women believe that repeat use of the morning after pill can cause infertility? It isn’t true, but this myth could make people less likely to take emergency contraception in order to help prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
What, if anything, happens if you take the morning after pill multiple times in your life? We spoke to Poppy, Sexplain Programme Consultant and 5th Year medical student*, to find out.
Can the morning after pill affect your future fertility?
Not only will the morning after pill not affect your future fertility but you could potentially fall pregnant the next time you have sex.
Hormonal emergency contraception can only be used to help protect you after a single incident of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. It will not continue to protect you against further unplanned pregnancies, so you will need to use regular contraception going forwards.
Can you take the morning after pill multiple times in your life?
Yes, you can take the morning after pill multiple times in the event of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. “It's important to know that it's not as effective as using regular contraception,” says Poppy.
There are two types of hormonal emergency contraception available in the UK: ellaOne (ulipristal acetate) and levonorgestrel.
On average, there is a 1.2% chance you would fall pregnant when using ellaOne and a 2.1% chance of pregnancy with levonorgestrel. The regular contraceptive pill is around 99% effective when used correctly.
Please note that, as the name suggests, emergency contraception is intended for emergency use only and should not replace regular birth control methods.
Emergency contraception may temporarily reduce the effectiveness of some birth control pills, so it’s a good idea to use a barrier method - like condoms or femidoms - until your next cycle.
How long after unprotected sex can you take the morning after pill?
ellaOne can be used up to 120 hours after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, although it is most effective when taken as soon as possible. Levonorgestrel can be taken up to 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.
Please note that both morning after pills work by helping to delay or prevent ovulation: if you have already ovulated, hormonal emergency contraception will not be able to do anything as it cannot terminate a pregnancy.
For more information on pregnancy, read: How Does Pregnancy Work?
Can you take the morning after pill twice in the same cycle?
ellaOne is for occasional use only and it should not replace a regular contraceptive method.
However, if you do have an emergency twice in the same cycle, we would recommend you speak to your pharmacist about whether or not ellaOne is the right choice for you on this occasion.
You may want to consider having an IUD fitted instead of taking the morning after pill. The IUD is a long term non hormonal contracpetive which also works as emergency contraception up to five days after unprotected sex.
Is there any reason you shouldn't take the morning after pill multiple times?
“You can take the morning after pill more than once, unless you have previously taken it and had a bad reaction, such as an allergic reaction, in which case it should be avoided,” says Poppy.
For more information, read ‘What are the morning after pill side effects?’
“A very small number of people may not be able to take the morning after pill at all, such those with very severe asthma or those taking certain medications,” she continues, “ it is therefore always important to inform whoever is providing you the morning after pill if you have any health conditions or are taking any medications.”
Please note that the morning after pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, so please visit your local sexual health organisation or GP if you have any concerns.
Taking emergency contraception is a responsible choice
We know that contraception isn’t always 100% reliable. Condoms do sometimes break even when used correctly. The most responsible person in the world could forget their birth control pill by accident. Sometimes people just make mistakes.
There are many reasons someone might be seeking emergency contraception and all are valid. We are not interested in interrogating or judging you about your sex life. We just want to make sure you have all the information and resources available to make the right choice for you.
If you have ever taken the morning after pill, share your story below and help us provide reassurance and support for anyone who is worried about this experience.
*Poppy does not endorse any products or brands.
**Verify at https://www.ellaone.co.uk/verify/