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Quick summary

Type of medicine

Emergency Contraceptive Tablet



Active Ingredient

Ulipristal Acetate

Effective within

Up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex

Works by

Modifying activity of progesterone to postpone ovulation

Side effects

Nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, breast tenderness, headache, dizziness, mood swings, muscle pain, back pain, tiredness

Medication details


EllaOne is a highly effective emergency contraception pill that can prevent pregnancy up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse. The active ingredient, ulipristal acetate, works by inhibiting the release of an egg from the ovaries, thereby preventing fertilization. EllaOne is a safe and convenient option for women who have had unprotected sex or whose contraception has failed. It is available without a prescription and has been proven to be a reliable form of emergency contraception.


Taking ellaOne is simple and straightforward. Just one tablet, taken orally, can provide the protection you seek. It is advisable to consume the tablet as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse. You can take it at any time during your menstrual cycle, regardless of the time of day or meal. If vomiting occurs within 3 hours after ingestion, it is recommended to take another tablet. It is important to note that taking the tablet after unprotected sex does not prevent future pregnancies caused by unprotected intercourse.


ellaOne's active ingredient, ulipristal acetate, modifies the natural hormone progesterone's activity, which is essential for ovulation. By postponing ovulation, the tablet works effectively to prevent pregnancy from starting. It is vital to understand that emergency contraception is not foolproof; it is estimated that around 2 out of 100 women who take this medicine may still become pregnant.

Side Effects

As with any medicine, ellaOne may cause side effects in some individuals. Common side effects may include nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and breast tenderness. It's important to remember that these symptoms can also be indicative of pregnancy. Uncommon side effects such as diarrhea, headache, mood swings, and fatigue are also possible. Rare side effects include genital pain, dizziness, allergic reactions, and more. If you experience any unusual symptoms, it's recommended to consult your healthcare professional.


Prior to taking ellaOne, it's important to consider certain factors. If you suspect you might be pregnant or are experiencing pregnancy symptoms, consult a healthcare professional before using the tablet. The tablet's effectiveness may be impacted by certain medications, such as those used for epilepsy, tuberculosis, HIV treatment, fungal infections, and herbal remedies containing St John's wort. If you have concerns about potential interactions, be sure to discuss them with your healthcare provider.

Medically reviewed and published

  • This page was medically reviewed by Dr Sohaib Imtiaz, Clinical Lead on Aug 24, 2023, 3:30 pm

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Please read our FAQs page to find out more.

Can I use ellaOne as a regular method of contraception?

No, ellaOne is intended for emergency contraception only and should not be used as a regular contraceptive method. It is designed to be taken within 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure.

Is ellaOne suitable for all women, regardless of age?

Yes, ellaOne is suitable for any woman of childbearing age, including adolescents. It can be taken at any time during the menstrual cycle. However, it is not effective if you are already pregnant.

Can I take ellaOne if I have a history of severe liver disease?

It's important to consult your healthcare professional before taking ellaOne if you have a history of severe liver disease. They can provide personalized advice based on your medical history and current condition.

Will taking ellaOne affect my ability to conceive in the future?

No, ellaOne will not affect your future fertility. However, if you wish to start or continue with a regular method of contraception after using ellaOne, you should continue to use condoms until your next period.

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