Levonorgestrel is an emergency contraceptive that can be used within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex or if your usual contraceptive method has failed.
Please note: This medication is intended for future use. If you require emergency contraception we recommend that you contact your GP or local Sexual Health Clinic.
Levonorgestrel is a synthetic hormone like substance. It prevents about 84% of expected pregnancies when you take it within 72hrs of having unprotected sex. It will not prevent a pregnancy every time and is more effective if you take it as soon as possible after unprotected sex. It is better to take it within 12hrs rather than delay until the third day.
Levonorgestrel is thought to work by:
- stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg;
- preventing sperm from fertilising any egg you may have already released; or
- stopping a fertilised egg from attaching itself to your womb lining.
Levonorgestrel can only prevent you becoming pregnant if you take it within 72hrs of unprotected sex. It does not work if you are already pregnant. If you have unprotected sex after taking Levonorgestrel, it will not stop you from becoming pregnant.
Levonorgestrel is not recommended for use in children under 12 years of age.
- Take the tablet as soon as possible, preferably within 12 hours, and no later than 72 hours (3 days) after you have had unprotected sex. Levonorgestrel can be taken at any time in your menstrual cycle assuming you are not already pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Do not chew the tablet, swallow it whole with water. Do not delay taking the tablet. The tablet works better the sooner you take it after having unprotected sex.
- If you are already using a regular method of contraception such as the contraceptive pill, you can continue to take this at your regular times.
If another unprotected intercourse takes place after the use of Levonorgestrel (also if this is during the same menstrual cycle), the tablet will not exert its contraceptive effect and there is again the risk of pregnancy.
Very common (affects more than 1 user in 10):
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- You might have some irregular bleeding until your next period
- You might have lower abdominal pain
Common (affects 1 to 10 users in 100):
- Being sick (vomiting). If you are sick, read the section ‘What to do if you are sick’ (vomit) (see page 3).
- Your period might be different. Most women will have a normal period at the expected time, but some may have their period later or earlier than normal. You might also have some irregular bleeding or spotting until your next period. If your period is more than 5 days late or is unusually light or unusually heavy, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.
You might have tender breasts, diarrhoea, feel dizzy after taking this medicine.
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