Emergency contraception or the morning after pill (MAP), whatever you call it, most women know it’s out there. But do you know how it works, how effective it is and how you can get hold of it? There are lots of misconceptions and outright confusion, so we’ve debunked the 10 most common myths
- There’s only one type of morning after pill
There are in fact two types of morning after pill available in the UK. The first contains ulipristal acetate (ellaOne) and the second contains levonorgestrel. Speak to a healthcare professional about the different types of morning after pill and their difference in effectiveness to ensure you can make an informed decision based on what’s most suitable for you.
- It’s difficult to get hold of
ellaOne is available in pharmacies across the UK, and there’s no need for a prescription, so you don’t have to take time out of your day to make a doctor’s appointment. It’s also possible to order online through Click & Collect, so it’s ready for you when you arrive at the pharmacy. Find a selection of reputable online pharmacies offering this service here*
- It can be used as a regular form of contraception
There isn’t a restriction on how often you can take the morning after pill, but it is not a regular form of contraception. It is only intended for occasional use after unprotected sex or if your contraception has failed, for example if the condom split or you have been sick after taking your usual hormonal contraception. There are 15 types of contraception available in the UK. Chat to your GP or healthcare professional to find out which type is best for you.
- The morning after pill ends pregnancy
It doesn’t terminate a pregnancy or cause an abortion. Morning after pills, like ellaOne, can help prevent a pregnancy from happening by delaying the release of a woman’ eggs (ovulation). This means that by the time an egg is released the sperm inside you is no longer able to make you pregnant.
- You’ll feel rubbish after you take it
Like all medicines the morning after pill can cause side effects for some people, but it’s generally well tolerated and many people won’t experience any side effects. The most common ones are headache, feeling sick, stomach pain and painful period cramps. Speak to a healthcare professional for more advice if you’re concerned by any side effects.
- It can affect long-term fertility
The morning after pill has been used for many years by millions of women without any significant long-term effects on fertility. In fact, research actually shows women are likely to quickly become fertile again after taking it, so you should use a barrier method of contraception, like a condom until your next period, even if you use a regular contraceptive pill.
- It only works the morning after
Although it’s best to take ellaOne as soon as possible after unprotected sex or a contraception failure, it is the only morning after pill that can prevent pregnancy up to five days afterwards.
- Asking a pharmacist for the morning after pill is embarrassing and they will want to know all the details
Pharmacists and their teams are specially trained to speak to women who want the morning after pill, and they do it all the time. If you’re worried about people overhearing your business, simply ask for ellaOne.
- It causes miscarriage if you’re already pregnant
ellaOne is an emergency contraceptive pill and not an abortion pill so will not interrupt an existing pregnancy. It acts to stop or delay ovulation to prevent the conception taking place in the first place.
- It doesn’t work in women who are overweight
ellaOne remains an effective morning after pill choice regardless of weight.
*Please note: If you require emergency contraception after unprotected sex, bear in mind that it is more effective the sooner it is taken. For this reason it is important that you choose a service that will ensure you can get emergency contraception as quickly as possible.
ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate. Take one tablet as soon as possible after unprotected sex or contraceptive mishap. Always read the label.