How to buy ellaOne® over the counter at the pharmacy

Deborah Evans, Pharamacist
How does it work getting the morning after pill in a pharmacy?

So, you’ve had unprotected sex and you’ve made the decision to take emergency contraception. You can choose to buy ellaOne® in a pharmacy, or you can even order ellaOne® online, if you wish.

Many people feel nervous about making the trip to the pharmacy to ask for the morning after pill – and it’s easy to see why. Disclosing to a complete stranger that you’ve had unprotected sex might feel a little strange, but its important not to let this put you off getting emergency contraception if you want to prevent risking an unplanned pregnancy. Remember that the pharmacy staff are there to help, not to judge you.

Deborah Evans, a pharmacist**, says: “Going to the pharmacy for the morning after pill might feel embarrassing, but it really is nothing out of the ordinary for the pharmacist helping you. It’s part of the job, and we are only interested in helping you make the right choice for you. We want to help.”

You don’t need a prescription to buy ellaOne®. The pharmacist will need to ask you some questions about when the unprotected sex happened, and some more questions about any health conditions you may have, or medicines that you are taking, that could interact with the morning after pill.

ellaOne® has put together a guide to buying the morning after pill in the pharmacy, and explained the questions you may be asked, so that if you’re feeling nervous about the trip you can prepare yourself. Take a look at our suitability checker here.

Don’t forget – emergency contraception is most effective the sooner you take it, so don’t wait around. For more information about ellaOne®, check out All you need to know about ellaOne®.

Where can I buy ellaOne® over the counter?

ellaOne® is available to buy from most pharmacies, including Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy and Superdrug. To make things even easier, you can type your home or work address into the search engine and we will direct you to your nearest pharmacy.

Please enable your location in browser or enter your current location to find an open pharmacy close to you.

How much is ellaOne®?

Prices vary depending on the pharmacy, but ellaOne® normally costs around £35.

Prefer to buy ellaOne® online? We offer discreet same-day and next-day delivery. Find out more at Buy ellaOne® Online or visit ellaOne® Direct.

Who can take ellaOne®?

Most people can take the morning after pill without any complications. The consultation you have with the pharmacist will determine whether the morning after pill is suitable for you.

You will not be given the morning after pill if:

  • You are already pregnant

  • You are allergic to any of the ingredients

  • You are taking any medicines that could interact with the morning after pill

You should speak to a healthcare professional if you think that the morning after pill won’t be suitable for you, they could recommend you have a copper IUD inserted. You can learn a bit more about that in our guide to Emergency Contraception.

What should I ask for in the pharmacy?

Hands holding a pack of ellaOne
Hands holding a pack of ellaOne

If you’ve done your research and decided that ellaOne® is the morning after pill for you, you can ask the pharmacist for ellaOne® by name – this also saves you from saying ‘morning after pill’ or ‘emergency contraception’ out loud, if you are embarrassed to do so.

The counter staff might then ask you to wait until a pharmacist or another trained member of the team is free to speak with you and ask you a few questions to check that ellaOne® is suitable for you. If this happens, the pharmacist will offer you a private consultation room: so you won’t have to tell them that you’ve had unprotected sex, in a room full of people waiting for their prescriptions. You can always ask to see the pharmacist privately without disclosing to anyone else why you want to talk.

What will the pharmacist ask me - and why?

Here is the set of questions that a pharmacist might ask you, and we’ve explained why so that you can feel confident in giving them your answers. You might be feeling nervous or upset, but the pharmacist is there to help and reassure you. You can even use this guide to prepare your answers in advance. Just remember: it’s very important to tell the pharmacist the truth about what’s happened.

Deborah Evans has helped to explain why the pharmacist needs to know the answers to these questions. She says, “The questions a pharmacist asks are only to ascertain that this medicine is appropriate for you. We really aren’t snooping for details about the situation, or making any judgements on what brought you to the pharmacy.”

‘When did the unprotected sex take place?’

Deborah says, “the pharmacist needs to know this to make sure you are still within the window when emergency contraception can be effective.”

ellaOne® can be effective for up to 120 hours (5 days), whereas for pills containing levonorgestrel this is 72 hours (3 days).

‘What is your age?’

The pharmacist might ask you this, because if you are under 16 there may be some further questions for you. You will not be refused the morning after pill based on your age, unless you are under 13.

‘Is there any chance you could already be pregnant?’

The pharmacist will ask you this because you should not take the morning after pill if you are already pregnant. Deborah says, “if you think there is a chance that you are pregnant, the pharmacist will ask you to take a pregnancy test before you are given the morning after pill.”

It’s important to remember that ellaOne® is not an abortion pill. If you are already pregnant it will not have any effect on the pregnancy or the baby. This is because ellaOne® works by delaying ovulation, and it cannot interrupt an existing pregnancy.

‘Are you breastfeeding?’

The pharmacist will ask this because ellaOne® is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding.

If you are breastfeeding and choose to take ellaOne®, you will not be able to breastfeed for one week afterwards. You can continue pumping during this time to maintain milk production, but should dispose of the milk afterwards.

‘Are you taking any medication?’

The pharmacist will ask this to check that you are not taking any medication that could stop the morning after pill from working properly.

‘Do you have any health conditions? e.g. liver disease and allergies?’

The pharmacist will ask this to ensure that you aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients in ellaOne®, or that you could be taking medicine for another condition that could interfere with the emergency contraception working correctly.

The pharmacist isn’t looking for any information that isn’t directly relevant to your health, and how effective the morning after pill will be for you. You don’t need to go into too many details about the unprotected sex or contraceptive failure you had.

We know that asking for the morning after pill can be daunting, but the more you know, the more confident you can feel about it. If you want to learn more about the ellaOne® morning after pill, head over to our ellaOne® FAQs page.

Photo of Samuelle Yohou
Samuelle Yohou
Associate Medical Manager
Medically reviewed in February 2020.

**Deborah Evans does not endorse any medicinal products or brands.

It couldn't be easier to find out your suitability for ellaOne®
Please select one answer for each question below, then click on 'Reveal Suitability'.
How long ago did you have unprotected sex/contraception failure?
Within the last day (24 hours)
Between 1-3 days (24-72 hours)
Between 3-5 days
More than 5 days
What is your age?
16 and over
Under 16
Could you have been pregnant before this?
No
Yes / Unsure
Are you breastfeeding?
No
Yes
Are you taking any medication
No
Yes
Do you have any health conditions? e.g liver disease or allergies
No
Yes
Please answer all the questions to proceed.
Thank you. Based on your responses, ellaOne® is likely to be suitable for you. Thank you. Based on your responses, ellaOne® may be suitable for you, but you need to speak to the pharmacist first. Thank you. Because it is more than 5 days since you had unprotected sex, you should see a doctor or go to an NHS Sexual Health Clinic as soon as possible.
Please download or take a screenshot of your responses below to show the pharmacist.
How long ago did you have unprotected sex/contraception failure?
What is your age?
Could you have been pregnant before this?
Are you breastfeeding?
Are you taking any medication
Do you have any health conditions? e.g liver disease or allergies

Please speak to a healthcare professional as soon as possible as emergency contraception is more effective the sooner it is used.

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