If you’ve accidentally had unprotected sex or your usual form of contraception has failed (e.g. broken condom or missed pill), you may be considering getting a morning after pill. Let’s look at how effective this emergency contraception pill can be at preventing you from falling pregnant, focusing on these common questions:

  • How effective is Morning After Pill?
  • When can you use the Morning After Pill?
  • How late can you take Morning After Pill?
  • How long does the morning after pill work?
  • How effective is the morning after pill when ovulating?
  • How do you know if the Emergency Contraception worked?

How effective is the morning after pill?

The effectiveness of emergency contraception drops gradually from the time of sex. So, when you’re wondering how effective is Morning After Pill ?’, it’s important to consider how soon you’re taking it.

For the best chance of avoiding pregnancy, you should aim to take the morning after pill within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. For women who do so, Morning After Pill is effective 89% of the time. This means roughly 1 in 10 women will still become pregnant after taking the morning after pill within 72 hours.

Don’t waste any time though – the pill is more effective the sooner you take it, so it’s best to take the ‘morning after’ name literally if you can. It’s over 97% effective when taken within 24 hours.

When can I use the morning after pill?

You might use the morning after pill if:

  • you had unprotected sex
  • you missed one or more of your usual contraceptive pills
  • you have been vomiting, had diarrhoea or have taken antibiotics, which can all stop your usual contraceptive pills from working
  • the condom broke during sex
  • you were sexually assaulted

How does the emergency contraceptive pill work?

The emergency contraceptive pill prevents or delays the ovaries from releasing an egg. We explain it in more detail here

If the sperm has already fertilised the egg, it is too late and the emergency contraceptive pill won’t work.

How late can you take Morning After Pill?

Morning after pills can be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. However, as mentioned above, their effectiveness drops after each day – especially after the first 3 days.

There are two types of emergency contraception is available in Australia:

  • Ulipristal acetate (sold as EllaOne®)
    • Ulipristal acetate (UPA) is a single dose of ulipristal acetate that can be used up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. It is available from pharmacies or your doctor without a prescription.You should not take UPA if you think you may be pregnant or if you are allergic to ulipristal acetate or any of its other ingredients. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have severe asthma or liver disease, if you are breastfeeding, or if you are taking any other medications as they may make the pill less effective.

      If you can’t take either of these pills, there is an alternative. You can have a copper intrauterine device (IUD) inserted by a trained doctor or nurse within 5 days of unprotected sex. An IUD is also an effective form of long-term contraception.

  • Levonorgestrel (multiple brands)
    • levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pill that can be used up to 3 days (72 hours) after unprotected sex. It is available from pharmacies without a prescription. It comes with different brand names.
    • You should not take levonorgestrel if you are pregnant, had unprotected intercourse more than 72 hours earlier in the same menstrual cycles, have vaginal bleeding and don’t know why, have breast cancer, or are allergic to any of the ingredients.
    • Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are pregnant, taking any other medications, have high blood pressure or if you have diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, severe liver disease or have had a stroke. You should go back to see your doctor 3 weeks after you take the pill, especially if you haven’t had a period by then.

How long is Morning After Pill effective?

If you’re wondering ‘how long does the morning after pill work?’, you may actually be thinking of birth control pills or another form of contraception. Morning After Pill is an emergency contraception designed to counter one-off instances of unprotected sex – they aren’t meant for use as an ongoing or preventative birth control option. So, if you’ve had unprotected sex in the days following taking a morning after pill, you will usually need to take another dose.

Note: Regularly taking the morning after pill is not ideal. Consider another form of birth control such as condoms or the pill, and only resort to Morning After Pill when needed (e.g. when a condom breaks or if you forget your pill).

How effective is the morning after pill when ovulating?

If you have unprotected sex while ovulating, taking the morning pill quickly is even more important. Since emergency contraception medications such as Morning After Pill work by delaying ovulation, they are much less effective if you’re already ovulating. Taking the morning after pill as soon as possible may help you stop your ovaries from releasing an egg while the sperm is still alive. 

How to Know if the Emergency Contraceptive Pill Worked

The only guaranteed sign that your morning after pill worked is when you get your next period. If it doesn’t come right when you expect it to, a pregnancy test can help determine whether you’re pregnant or if your period is just a little late.

Are there any side effects from using emergency contraception?

Emergency contraceptive pills can change the amount of bleeding for your next period. They may also make your period late or earlier, or it may come as you normally expect.

Other possible effects for a small number of users can include:

  • nausea
  • headaches
  • bloating
  • sore or tender breasts.

What stops emergency contraception from working?

Emergency contraceptive pills may be less effective if you:

  • are late taking them
  • vomit within three hours of taking them
  • weigh over 70 kg or have a body mass index more than 26 kg/m2
  • are taking certain medications (check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist).

Can I use the emergency contraceptive pill after I have had a baby?

Emergency contraceptive pills are safe to take at any stage after having a baby.

The levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pill will not affect your breast milk.

The ulipristal acetate emergency contraceptive pill can affect your breast milk. You may need to express and throw out breast milk for 24 hours after taking it.

Where can you get a morning after pill?

You can get a morning after pill from a pharmacy without a prescription. Keep in mind that the pharmacist is required to ask questions for people getting various types of medications – they aren’t judging or trying to embarrass you.

However, if you don’t feel comfortable waiting in line and approaching a pharmacist in person, the good news is you can discreetly get the morning after pill online from YOULY.

You can also see your GP or visit a family planning clinic to acquire the morning after pill.

Need to get some morning after pills without the pharmacy trip? YOULY has you covered.