The morning after pill, young woman in bed smiling and stretching her arms over her head, laying down | e-Surgery

What is The Morning After Pill?

The morning after pill is a form of emergency contraception that can be taken after unprotected sex to greatly decrease the chances of pregnancy. The morning after pill has changed the ‘morning after’ for millions of men and women around the world. One study has suggested up to 11% of young women in the US have used the morning after pill [1].

There are two main types of emergency contraception available on the market. Levonelle contains the active ingredient Levonorgestrel which works as it is a synthetic imitation of the hormone progesterone. This stops the egg being able to embed itself into the lining of the uterus and is effective for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. EllaOne contains ulipristal acetate, a drug that stops progesterone functioning. This also stops the egg from implanting in the womb. EllaOne is more expensive but has the advantage of being effective for up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse.

If you would like to find out more about the types of contraception available check out our handy A-Z of contraception. You can also see what other types of contraception we have available at e-Surgery.

When Can I Take The Morning After Pill?

Emergency contraception works best when taken as SOON as possible (as it is in the name, the morning after!).

However, if that isn’t possible Levonelle is 95% effective for the first 12 hours and then reduces by 58% after 48 hours after sex. Whereas EllaOne is effective up to 120 hours after unprotected sex [2].

If you are unable to take the pill after 120 hours since having unprotected sex and emergency IUD can be inserted up to five days afterwards [3].

Young female with long brown hair sitting on a sofa putting a pill in her mouth. She is holding a glass of water | The Truth About The Morning After | e-Surgery

Are There Risks Associated With Taking The Morning After Pill?

There have always been a few risks associated with the use of the morning after pill, and often a lot of misunderstanding surrounding it. This is in part due to the previously ‘taboo’ nature of unprotected sex and a lack of education around the subject

Does The Morning After Pill Affect Fertility?

Emergency contraception is generally very safe to take. There has been no proof that taking the morning after pill will affect future fertility. However, it will only protect you if you take it after each episode of have unprotected intercourse. There is also a belief that if you take emergency contraception you are then protected for the rest of the month, this is not true. If you are engaging in sexual activity after taking the pill then it is recommended that you use a barrier method, such as a condom.

Will The Morning After Pill Increase My Risk Of Breast Cancer?

One of these risks that people often bring up is an increased risk of breast cancer. A 2002 study looked at the link between the oral contraceptives and the risk of breast cancer [4], and the data suggests that the risk of breast cancer did not increase when hormonal contraception was consumed. This was later investigated in a 2018 study which came to the same conclusion [5]. It was also determined that the familial risk did also not increase when taking the pill.

Does The Morning After Pill Work For Everyone?

According to a 2016 study, the morning after pill is less effective in women over 80kg [6]. The most effective form of emergency for women who weigh over 80kg is the copper IUD which can be placed within 5 days after engaging in unprotected sex [3].

It will also not prevent a pregnancy if you are ALREADY pregnant, meaning it is very different from an abortion or termination. The morning after pill will not work if someone is already pregnant. The abortion pill contains a completely different drug called mifepristone which induces an abortion by preventing the release of hormones necessary for maintaining the pregnancy [7]. As a result, the uterus contracts and expels the pregnancy.

Will I Need To See A Doctor?

You will not need to have a face-to-face interaction with a doctor or nurse to receive the morning after pill. Online services such as e-Surgery can offer Levonelle or EllaOne for future use. It’s always better safe than sorry!

To order the morning after pill online from e-Surgery you will need to complete a quick 2 minute health questionnaire which will be sent to one our UK registered prescribers. Once approved your medication will be shipped to your door!




  1. 5.8M women have used ‘morning after’ pill | USA Today
  2. Effectiveness of emergency contraceptive pills between 72 and 120 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse | Science Direct
  3. Emergency contraception (morning after pill, IUD) | NHS
  4. Oral Contraceptives and the Risk of Breast Cancer | The New England Journal of Medicine
  5. Contraceptive and cancer | NCBI
  6. Safety and effectiveness data for emergency contraceptive pills among women with obesity | International Reproductive Health Journal
  7. The Difference Between the Morning-After Pill and the Abortion Pill | Planned Parenthood

Further Reading

  2. Emergency contraception (morning after pill, IUD) | NHS