#Ask Ella: What are the morning after pill side effects?

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We understand that taking the morning after pill can be intimidating. We think you should ask all the questions you need to make you feel confident about the medicine you have chosen to take. That’s why we’ve set up #AskElla - a forum for you to ask your questions and get answers you can trust.

People ask about side effects a lot, so read on to find out more about them.

First things first: remember that both types of emergency contraceptive pills – ellaOne and levonorgestrel– are well tolerated by most women and many people experience no side effects at all.

The morning after pill does not commonly cause any serious or long term side effects. Some women, however, may experience some mild, short-lived side effects. Let’s talk about them…

How Does The Morning After Pill Work?

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Lets cover the basics: the morning after pill works by temporarily delaying ovulation, which means the egg is not released into the fallopian tube. This stops any rogue sperm from reaching the egg, so fertilisation can not take place. For a more in-depth look at how the morning after pill works, read here.

The morning after pill can only protect you from pregnancy at the time it is taken. In fact, your fertility returns so quickly that you should use a barrier method, such as condoms, until your next period.

The morning after pill can actually make hormonal contraceptives, such as the pill, temporarily less effective. Therefore, we recommend you use a barrier method, like condoms, alongside your regular contraceptive until your next period.

What are the morning after pill side effects?

“I have terrible periods and as I’d never taken it before, I was concerned about how it might interfere with my regular contraception, or my cycle. However, I didn’t really experience any side effects. Nothing too out of the ordinary - I merely had a little bit of cramping.” Anonymous, 33, London

If you take the morning after pill, you may experience one or more of the following side effects:

  • Headache

  • Stomach pain

  • Feeling sick or vomiting

  • Changes in mood

  • Tender breasts

If you throw up within three hours of taking ellaOne or levonorgestrel, consult your pharmacist or sexual health clinic as you may need to take another dose for the emergency contraception to be effective.

Less common side effects include:

  • Menstrual spotting

  • Heavy periods

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

  • Indigestion or wind

  • Diarrhea

  • Dry mouth

  • Discharge or vaginal inflammation

  • Generally feeling unwell

Most side effects are mild, but if you experience any unusual side effects, including any not on this list, then contact your GP.

For a full list of potential side-effects, please see the patient information leaflet included in the packet.

Does The Morning After Pill Delay Your Period?

Most women will still have their period as expected after taking the morning after pill, but some may find that their next period is a few days early or a few days late.

If your period is more than seven days late after taking ellaOne, or five days late after taking levonorgestrel, or if it is unusually heavy or light, you may want to take a pregnancy test, or talk to your GP or Pharmacist.

Does the morning after pill affect fertility?

There is no evidence to suggest that taking the morning after pill will affect your ability to have children later on. In fact, emergency contraception is only effective for singular use and one dose will not protect you from pregnancy if you have unprotected sex again during the same menstrual cycle.

What Is In The Morning After Pill?

“After taking ellaOne, I felt fine all day. I genuinely had no side effects and felt more relaxed in the knowledge that it's the most effective pill to take.” Eve Greenow, 24, London

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ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate, which can temporarily stop progesterone from causing you to ovulate.

Levonorgestrel is a man-made version of the natural hormone progesterone and works by delaying ovulation.

Allergic reactions to either ingredient are extremely rare, but you should consult your pharmacist or GP if you have any concerns. ellaOne have a handy guide to the things that could affect whether ellaOne is the right medicine for you, you can find the full list here

Don’t Let The Fear Of Side Effects Put You Off

“I was a bit scared as I was worried about fertility and side effects, but I didn’t experience any problems in the end.” Soumya, 27, London

The reality is that many women don’t experience any adverse effects from taking the morning after pill. If there are any side effects, the vast majority are mild and short lived.

If you are feeling (or have felt) worried, embarrassed or ashamed for taking the morning after pill, remember that you, and you alone, have the right to decide what happens to your body.

Ask for ellaOne, the most effective morning after pill. Please see https://www.ellaone.co.uk/verify/ for verification.

Our #MyMorningAfter stories are here to provide you with reassurance and show you that you are not alone in this experience. Have you have taken the morning after pill? Do you want to share your experience? Click here


ellaone film-coated tablet is for emergency contraception. Contains ulipristal acetate. Always read the label.

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Leo Kent