EllaOne is known as a 'morning after pill'. It is used to reduce the chances of becoming pregnant after unprotected sex or failure of a contraceptive method.
EllaOne tablets contain the active ingredient ulipristal acetate, which is a type of medicine called a selective progesterone receptor modulator. It works by acting on the body's receptors for the naturally occurring female sex hormone, progesterone.
It is not fully understood how this medicine prevents pregnancy. It is thought to work by preventing ovulation and fertilisation and also by altering the lining of the womb, depending on which stage of the menstrual cycle the woman is at.
In a woman's normal menstrual cycle, an egg matures and is released from the ovaries (ovulation). The ovary then produces progesterone, which prevents the release of further eggs. Ulipristal tricks the body processes into thinking that ovulation has already occurred. This prevents the release of eggs from the ovaries.
Ulipristal also increases the thickness of the natural mucus at the neck of the womb (cervix), making it more difficult for sperm to cross from the vagina into the womb. By preventing sperm entering the womb, successful fertilisation of any egg that is there is less likely.
Ulipristal is also thought to alter the lining of the womb, preventing it from being prepared for a fertilised egg. This means that if an egg is released from the ovaries and is fertilised, it cannot implant into the womb and therefore pregnancy is avoided.
The whole process from fertilisation to implantation in the womb can take up to five days, so EllaOne can only stop pregnancy from occurring for up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. However the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it will be.
There is only one tablet to be taken. It should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex, and no later than 120 hours (5 days) after.
The tablet can be taken either with or without food.
If you are sick within three hours of taking the tablet, another one should be taken immediately. You should consult your doctor, pharmacist or family planning clinic for advice and to get another tablet.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with EllaOne:
Common (affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 people):
- Abdominal pain.
- Period pain.
- Changes in mood.
- Muscle, back or pelvic pain.
- Breast tenderness.
Uncommon (affect between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 people)
- Menstrual spotting.
- Heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding.
- Premenstrual syndrome.
- Vaginal inflammation or discharge.
- Hot flush.
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
- Changes in sex drive.
- Visual disturbance.
- Indigestion or wind.
- Dry mouth.
- Feeling generally unwell (malaise).
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer. For more information about any other possible risks associated with EllaOne, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
If you think you have experienced a side effect from a medicine you should check the patient information leaflet. This lists the known side effects and what to do if you get them. You can also get advice from your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
EllaOne should be used with caution by:
- Women with severe asthma.
EllaOne should NOT be used by
- Women who know or suspect they are pregnant (see below).
- This medicine is not recommended for women with severely decreased liver function.
- Women with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption (EllaOne tablets contain lactose).
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction after taking EllaOne, inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
The patient information leaflet (PIL) is a leaflet containing specific information about medical conditions, doses and side effects. You can download a copy of the PIL here:
Patient Info Leaflet