Morning After Pill
The morning-after-pill can be taken upto 5 days after unprotected sex (or failure of regular contraception).
Neither does it protect against STIs.
Method of contraception
Emergency Hormonal Contraception
Within 5 days of unprotected sex, before ovulation
Up-to 99% if not already ovulated
Cost of method
Contraceptive pills, patches and the morning after pill are offered after a telephone call with a Specialist Nurse. If you would like to see a clinician in person, then the consultation fee applies.
Same day appointments
In Birmingham Clinic
Highly confidential service
And discreetly located clinics
Specialists in sexual health
From busy NHS clinics
How does the morning-after-pill work?
The morning-after-pill works by delaying ovulation and its subsequent fertilisation. Some morning-after-pills also stop the hormone progesterone working in its usual way and also helping stop a pregnancy from occurring.
The simplest way to know whether the morning-after-pill has worked (or you weren’t at risk of pregnancy) is to have your period.
In the event that your period has not yet arrived (or normalised), a pregnancy test may be required. This is usually done approx. 3 weeks after taking the morning-after-pill.
How soon should I take the morning-after-pill?
Whilst the morning-after-pill should be taken within 5 days of unprotected sex, it is recommended to take it as soon as possible.
How effective is the morning-after-pill?
Taking the morning-after-pill within the first 24 hours of having unprotected sex has an effectiveness of 95%.
However, please understand that if your egg has already been released and fertilisation occurred, the morning-after-pill will not work (i.e. it cannot abort a pregnancy).
Will taking more than one morning-after-pill increase the effectiveness?
There is no research to suggest that having two or three (or more) pills will increase the effectiveness of the morning-after-pill. In fact, more than one dose in a cycle can increase the chances of pregnancy.
However, if your weight is over 70 kilos (or BMI is greater than 26) you will need a second dose of Levonelle (taken within 3 days of unprotected sex).
Can I use the morning-after-pill twice in one cycle?
Whilst you may be able to take the same type of pill more than once in your cycle, it is not designed to replace your normal method of contraception.
Please speak to your clinician for more advice about your particular circumstances.
How will my next period be affected?
Your period may be delayed by upto one week. If you don’t have your period within three to four weeks of taking the morning-after-pill, please take a pregnancy test.
How long do I have to wait before having sex again?
We would advise waiting until you have had your period before engaging in sex again. This is to minimise your risk of pregnancy.
Can I still breastfeed after taking the morning-after-pill?
The 3-day pill is safe to take while breastfeeding, however a small amount of Progesterone may pass into your breast milk. It is not harmful to your baby.
However, it is not recommended to breastfeed for 5 days of taking the 5-day pill as the safety is not fully known.
What are the side effects of taking the morning-after-pill?
Side effects may include:
- Cramps & lower abdominal pain
- Tender breasts
If you find yourself vomiting within 2-3 hours of taking the morning-after-pill (the exact time can vary depending on the type) please take another dose.
Page reviewed by Julie Milsom (Specialist Nurse in Sexual Health)
Last reviewed date: 27 April 2021
Next review due: 27 April 2024
Whilst this content is written and reviewed by sexual health specialists, it is for general guidance only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your clinician.
References & Further Reading
- NHS: Emergency contraception (morning after pill, IUD)
- Medscape Women’s Health: Emergency Contraception: More Than A Morning After Pill. – Abstract
- American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Effectiveness of emergency contraceptive pills between 72 and 120 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse