How to ask for ellaOne® morning after pill at a pharmacy

If you’ve experienced a contraceptive failure (e.g the condom broke or you missed your pill) or had unprotected sex, you can get the morning after pill to help protect you against unplanned pregnancy. We know that going into a pharmacy and essentially announcing “I’ve just had sex” can feel embarrassing, but remember that pharmacists are trained healthcare professionals who are there to help, not judge.

You might feel more empowered to access emergency hormonal contraception if you know what to expect at the pharmacy, so we’ve written this guide to make things as straightforward as possible.

How does the morning after pill work?

The morning after pill can help prevent pregnancy by delaying ovulation. If you’ve had unprotected sex or experienced contraceptive failure, the morning after pill can delay the release of your egg so that any sperm in your vagina will have nothing to fertilise and will die off before ovulation does occur. 

The morning after pill only works by delaying ovulation. If you ovulate in between having unprotected sex and taking the pill, then it will not be effective. The morning after pill cannot interrupt an existing pregnancy and it does not cause an abortion.

There are two types of emergency hormonal contraception available in the U.K. ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate, and some other morning after pills contain levonorgestrel. 

ellaOne® is the most effective morning after pill* and can be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, although we recommend taking it as soon as possible. Levonorgestrel can be taken up to 3 days (72 hours) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.

*verify at

Can you buy the morning after pill over the counter?

Yes, you can. When accessing the morning after pill at a pharmacy, you have the option of asking to see the pharmacist in a private room where you can discuss emergency contraception away from the main shop floor. Some people prefer to do this, whilst others may prefer to ask for the morning after pill over the counter. 

When you ask for the morning after pill, the pharmacist will go through a few quick questions – such as how long ago you had unprotected sex, whether you may be pregnant, if you are taking any medications and if you have any allergies – to help you make an informed decision. See here for a full list of emergency contraception consultation questions. 

The morning after pill is an over-the-counter medication in the UK, so you do not need a prescription to buy it. Find out more about how to buy the morning after pill in the UK.  You can also access the morning after pill at your local sexual health clinic.

How to ask for ellaOne® at the pharmacy

Clinical trials have found that ellaOne® is 2.5x more effective than levonorgestrel if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex.* If you would like to make sure you get ellaOne at the pharmacy, simply ask the pharmacist for ellaOne® specifically. The pharmacist will ask you a few questions (see above) to check whether ellaOne® is suitable for you, and if it is then you can purchase it.

If you would prefer, you can also buy ellaOne® online via You will be asked to complete a short online questionnaire which is reviewed by a pharmacist to make sure ellaOne® is suitable for you, and if it is you can select your preferred delivery address and have ellaOne® sent out for next day delivery. Your order will arrive in discreet packaging and it will fit through your letterbox so there’s no need to sign for it.

You can also buy ellaOne® via one of our retail partners and collect in store from Lloyds pharmacy or Superdrug.

Taking the morning after pill is nothing to be ashamed of

We know that people can feel embarrassed about accessing the morning after pill, but it’s important to remember that accidents can happen to anyone. Condoms sometimes break, people can have a busy day and forget to take their pill, and at times people just get caught up in the moment and make a mistake. What’s important is that you have the information you need to make an informed decision for yourself. Taking the morning after pill is a responsible decision if you want to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Pharmacists are trained health professionals who are there to help.

If you’ve taken the morning after pill in the past, why not share your experience to help us reduce the stigma which surrounds emergency contraception?

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.