Side effects of EllaOne

Dr Kathryn Basford

Medically reviewed by

Dr Kathryn Basford

EllaOne is a type of morning after pill, also known as emergency contraception. After you take EllaOne, you may experience some side effects. These are normally temporary and you should feel better after a few days.

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You can choose to take EllaOne if you’ve had unprotected sex, or if your regular method of contraception has failed. EllaOne can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex and contains the active ingredient ulipristal acetate.

EllaOne works by delaying ovulation (when your ovaries release an egg). By delaying ovulation, EllaOne prevents sperm from fertilising the egg. EllaOne is 99% effective at preventing an unplanned pregnancy if it’s taken within the first 24 hours after unprotected sex.

EllaOne will not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, can help protect you against STIs.

What are the side effects of EllaOne?

There are a few side effects that you may experience after you take the tablet.

The common side effects of EllaOne can affect up to 1 in 10 people, and these include:

  • feeling sick (nausea) or being sick
  • stomach ache
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • mood swings
  • pelvic pain
  • painful periods
  • breast tenderness
  • muscle pain or back pain
  • tiredness

These side effects are often temporary and will disappear after a few hours or a few days.

If you vomit within 3 hours of taking EllaOne, the medication will not have been absorbed into your body and may not work as planned. You’ll need to speak to your pharmacist, doctor or sexual health clinic to get another dose of EllaOne or another emergency contraceptive.

If you cannot take EllaOne for any reason, such as an allergy, you can try Levonelle or generic levonorgestrel as an alternative morning after pill. Your doctor may also suggest getting the copper coil fitted. The copper coil is also known as the copper IUD (intrauterine device).

Less common side effects

The less common side effects of EllaOne can affect up to 1 in 100 people taking EllaOne.

EllaOne can affect your menstrual cycle, so you may have some irregular vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge after you take it. EllaOne can also impact your next period by making it heavier or longer. This is because the active ingredient, ulipristal acetate, can make the lining of your uterus thicker, which can result in a heavier flow when the lining breaks down during your period.

Other less common side effects of EllaOne include:

  • diarrhoea
  • heartburn
  • dry mouth
  • hot flushes
  • sleeping disorders
  • change in your sex drive
  • flu like symptoms (fever, chills)
  • acne
  • itching

If you feel concerned about any of these side effects, speak to your pharmacist or doctor for advice. You can also read the EllaOne patient information leaflet for further information on side effects.

How long do side effects last?

The side effects of EllaOne are temporary and normally do not last longer than a few days. Some side effects may affect your current menstrual cycle, which means you’ll feel better after your next period.

How long a side effect lasts also depends on your general wellbeing and if you’re taking any other medications.

If you feel the side effects from EllaOne are lasting longer than expected, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

What can I do about side effects?

There’s no way to avoid side effects completely but you can manage some side effects with over the counter treatment. This includes taking paracetamol or ibuprofen for headaches, period pain or back pain if they are suitable for you.

If you start to feel dizzy or generally unwell after taking EllaOne, take some time to rest. The side effects generally pass after a few days and you should start to feel better.

You can also speak to a doctor or pharmacist about any side effects and they can offer further advice.

Can EllaOne delay your period?

EllaOne can delay your next period and make it later than usual. You might also find that your next period is longer or heavier than your normal period.

If your next period is more than 7 days late, there’s a chance you might be pregnant. If this happens, do a pregnancy test straight away. If the pregnancy test is positive, speak to your doctor immediately.

Other symptoms that can be signs you are pregnant include:

  • sore breasts
  • feeling sick or being sick
  • stomach pain
  • unusually light or heavy periods

How do you know if EllaOne has worked?

The only way to know if EllaOne has worked is to wait for your next period. If your next period is delayed by more than 7 days, you should do a pregnancy test to check if you are pregnant. If your period is normally irregular, do a pregnancy test around 21 days after you originally had unprotected sex.

Pregnancy tests work by measuring the level of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Your body will start to produce HCG once an egg has been fertilised, but the levels will not be high enough for a test to detect until a few weeks have passed. That’s why you need to wait until you miss your next period or until 21 days have passed before you do a pregnancy test.

The only way to know if EllaOne has worked is to wait for your next period. If your next period is delayed by more than 7 days, you should do a pregnancy test to check if you are pregnant. If your period is normally irregular, do a pregnancy test around 21 days after you originally had unprotected sex.

Pregnancy tests work by measuring the level of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Your body will start to produce HCG once an egg has been fertilised, but the levels will not be high enough for a test to detect until a few weeks have passed. That’s why you need to wait until you miss your next period or until 21 days have passed before you do a pregnancy test.

Where can I get EllaOne?

You can get EllaOne from your local pharmacy or sexual health clinic. To get EllaOne over the counter at a pharmacy, the pharmacist will ask you a few questions to check if it’s suitable for you. This normally takes a few minutes.

You can take EllaOne more than once in a menstrual cycle. Remember that EllaOne is not designed to be used as regular contraception. If you take it several times in a single cycle, you can increase your chance of getting side effects. You may want to consider taking regular contraception, such as the contraceptive pill.

You can also request EllaOne from Asda Online Doctor. Simply fill out our short questionnaire which one of our doctors will review. We can deliver EllaOne directly to your doorstep in discreet packaging, or you can choose to collect it from an Asda Pharmacy.

dr-kathryn-basford.png
Medically reviewed by:
Dr Kathryn Basford

Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

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Article created: 26 Apr 2022



(Reviews are for ZAVA UK)

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