Where can I get the morning after pill?

Deborah Evans, Pharamacist
Where can I get the morning after pill?

If you have had unprotected sex, or your regular method of contraception has failed, you might be considering using the morning after pill to help prevent unplanned pregnancy. You might know what the morning after pill is and how hormonal emergency contraception (a.k.a the morning after pill) works  (and if you don’t, you can find out in this article Emergency Contraception & The Morning After Pill), but do you know where to get it?

The good news is that there are many different ways to access oral emergency contraception.  It’s really important to remember that any morning after pill will be most effective the sooner you take it, so wherever you get it from, make sure you can get the medicine and take it as soon as possible.

Read on for more information on where to buy the morning after pill, the difference between different emergency contraceptive pills (yep!) and what else to expect.

Can I buy the morning after pill online?

Yes! Just like almost everything else, the morning after pill can be purchased online. In the case of ellaOne, the most effective morning after pill*, you can order it online at any time of day or night in a matter of clicks, with next day delivery.

If you use the ellaOne Direct delivery service, you will complete a short online questionnaire to determine whether ellaOne is suitable for you. If your answers indicate that a pharmacist needs some more information, they will contact you to check that this medicine is appropriate for you to use. Your ellaOne tablet will be sent to you quickly and discreetly, in a plain package that fits through your letterbox. Your privacy is a top priority to us, so ellaOne will not be named on the package or on your bank statement.

For more information about buying ellaOne online, click here.

Where can I buy the morning after pill?

If you would prefer to purchase it in person, you can buy the morning after pill at most pharmacies nationwide without a prescription. That includes your local pharmacy and at pharmacy counters within supermarkets. Learn more about buying ellaOne over the counter.

If you’re buying the morning after pill from a pharmacy, the pharmacist will need to ask you a few questions to determine that the medicine is suitable for you. If you want to check what questions you might be asked – and why – have a look at ellaOne’s suitability checker.

The pharmacist will be able to answer any questions you might have about the emergency contraceptive pill. Remember that part of their job is to put you at ease, not to scare you or judge your actions. They should not refuse you the medicine unless there is a medical reason that means you should not use it.

Not sure where your nearest pharmacy is?  Why not use ellaOne’s pharmacy finder to make getting the morning after pill even easier?

Are there different types of morning after pill?

Many people don’t realise that there is more than one morning after pill.  There are actually two different types of morning after pill, those containing ulipristal acetate (known as ellaOne) and those containing levonorgestrel. ellaOne is the most effective morning after pill* and has been shown to reduce the risk of pregnancy to 9 in 1000 when taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex.

ellaOne can be effective up to 5 days after unprotected sex, whereas emergency contraceptive pills containing levonorgestrel can be effective for up to 3 days afterwards.

Where else can I get the morning after pill?

You can get the morning after pill free of charge from a sexual health clinic or from your GP surgery.

Why is the morning after pill more effective the sooner I take it?

The morning after pill works by delaying ovulation (when you release an egg from your ovary). This means that the morning after pill will be more effective the sooner you use it, because it makes it less likely that you ovulate while the sperm is in your reproductive system.

If you think you may have been ovulating when you had unprotected sex, you should speak to a healthcare professional who will be able to advise you. Ovulation can be tricky to pinpoint, so there’s a chance that you may still be able to use emergency contraception.

For a more detailed explanation on how the morning after pill works, read this article All You Need To Know About ellaOne.

Can I buy the morning after pill for later use?

Yes you can! If you would like the peace of mind of having a dose of emergency contraception on hand just in case, you can buy the morning after pill to keep in case of emergency.

No one plans on having a contraceptive failure, but we all know that it can happen from time to time. Some people choose to keep a dose of emergency contraception in their medicine kit so they can take it as soon as possible after unprotected sex, when it will be most effective.

What side effects can the morning after pill cause?

You might feel worried about the possibility of experiencing side effects, which is completely understandable. Like all medicines, the morning after pill has been known to cause some side effects. It’s generally well-tolerated but around one in ten people may experience mild side effects such as nausea, headaches or stomach pain.  Not everyone will experience this, but if you do then your pharmacist will be able to advise you.

A few people experience some irregular bleeding after using the morning after pill, but by your next menstrual cycle everything should have returned to normal.

Some people experience no side effects at all after using ellaOne. You can learn more about the potential side effects here.

It’s very important that if you vomit within 3 hours of using the morning after pill you should contact the pharmacist or another healthcare provider, as you will need to take another dose.

How will I know that the morning after pill has worked?

You will have to wait until your next period to know whether the morning after pill has worked. Getting your next period as normal is a reliable indicator that the morning after pill has been effective.  However, using the morning after pill can sometimes make your next period later than normal. If your period is more than 7 days late, or you experience any other symptoms of pregnancy, you should take a pregnancy test.

Some methods of contraception – including the progestogen only pill (also known as the mini pill) – may mean that you don’t have a regular period, or have periods at all. If this is the case, you should take a pregnancy test 21 days after the unprotected sex took place.

Are there any other forms of emergency contraception?

In addition to the two different types of morning after pill, you also have the option to have a copper intrauterine device (IUD) fitted.

The copper IUD (sometimes called the copper coil) can be used as emergency contraception when it is fitted within 5 days of unprotected sex. Once the copper IUD is inserted, it can prevent pregnancy for between 5 and 10 years – depending on which type. The copper IUD is placed in your uterus, it works by emitting copper into the womb which alters the cervical mucus. This makes it hard for sperm to survive and for an egg to implant.

To get the copper IUD, you will have to make an appointment with a sexual health clinic or through your GP, as it will have to be fitted by a doctor or nurse.  Some healthcare providers would recommend that if you have to wait for an appointment to get your IUD fitted, that you take the emergency contraceptive pill in the meantime, just in case. 

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We know that experiencing unprotected sex, or a contraceptive failure, can make you feel panicked, but it’s important to remember that you still have a choice about what to do next. If you choose to use the morning after pill to help prevent pregnancy, you can access it in a way that suits your lifestyle.

If you still have questions about emergency contraception and how it works, why not try our frequently asked questions page? The more information you have, the more confident you can feel in your choices.

Deborah Evans in the YouTube video does not endorse any pharmaceutical brands or products.

*Verify at ellaone.co.uk/verify

ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure. Always read the label.

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