Best Emergency Contraception, which one is right for me?

Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) is the treatment offered to women who have engaged in unprotected sex and are worried about an unwanted pregnancy.  This can be down to the failure of a primary method such as a missed pill or split condom. It can also be used in cases where no contraception was used. Finding the best Emergency Contraception treatment can come down to some specifics. Here at SimplyMeds Online we offer the most reliable and popular treatments available in a pharmacy; Levonorgesterel (Levonelle) or EllaOne.

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In the UK it is estimated that around 1 in 6 of pregnancies are unplanned (UCL,2013) . It is important to know the risks of having unprotected intercourse. Knowing the choices that are available to you when something goes wrong is also paramount. We offer EHC through our pharmacy for the prevention of an unplanned pregnancy in specific cases. The other form of emergency contraception offered in the UK is the IUD (inter-uterine device) also known as the coil. This is the most effective method out of the available options but it’s the most intrusive. This method can only be carried out by a trained professional in a primary care setting such as your GP surgery or sexual health clinic (NHS). It can also double up as a form of long term contraception as it’s kept in after the episode and provides continued protection. So if you are seeking something more long term then this could be an option for you.

Most women will have an oral form of emergency contraception which is a single use -single dose treatment. We offer two; EllaOne and Levonorgesterel, which is also sold under its brand name Levonelle. Here are some facts on both treatments to help make a more informed decision.

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EllaOne

  • Can be used up to 120 hours after intercourse
  • Is considered to be 95% effective during this time
  • Newest treatment available for emergency contraception
  • Active ingredient is 30mg Ulipristal Acatate
  • Can only be used ONCE per menstrual cycle
  • New dose needed if vomiting occurs within 3 hours

Levonelle (Levonorgesterel)

  • Can be used up to 72 hours after intercourse
  • 95% effective when taken within 24 hours, drops to 58% at 72 hours
  • Most widely used emergency contraception
  • Active ingredient is 1500mg Levonorgesterel
  • Can be used MORE THAN ONCE in the same menstrual cycle
  • New dose needed if vomiting occurs in 2 hours

How do they work?

It is important to remember that both treatments work by preventing ovulation. This means that the egg is not released and therefore fertilisation by any sperm cannot take place. If the woman has already ovulated (egg already released), this medication will have no effect. It is important that the treatment, whichever you decide on, is taken as soon as possible after the event.

Emergency contraception is supplied after an episode of unprotected intercourse, however in some cases it can be given prior to that event. An advance supply is given in circumstances where the patient decides that they will be having unprotected sex in the future. This is, of course, not advised but it is understood that each situation is different.  The pills can cause your next period to be delayed or start earlier than your usual schedule. If your period is more than 7 days late, it is important to get a pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy.

It is important for you to practice safe sex, not only to prevent unwanted pregnancies but to also prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You can use barrier methods such as condoms with any new partner, until you are both satisfied that you are clear of any STDs. Further to this, unless you are planning a pregnancy you should use an effective method of contraception.

To carry out a consultation for our emergency contraception, or to get more information please CLICK HERE .

by Birpal Virdee, Pharmacist (Feb 2019)