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Morning After Pill

Published on Apr 09, 2019 and last reviewed on Oct 04, 2021   -  4 min read


The morning after pill is a type of contraception that contains Levonorgestrel or Ulipristal acetate and is used to prevent pregnancy by women who have had unprotected sexual intercourse or women whose birth control method has failed.

Morning After Pill

What Is Morning-After Pill?

The morning after pill is a type of contraception that contains Levonorgestrel or Ulipristal acetate and is used to prevent pregnancy by women who have had unprotected sexual intercourse or women whose birth control method has failed. As it is only used in cases of emergencies and not as the primary method of birth control, it is also called an emergency contraceptive pill (ECP).

Quick Facts About Morning-After Pills:

How Does the Morning-After Pill Work?

The morning-after pill either works by-

-preventing or delaying ovulation.

-interfering with fertilization of the egg.

-preventing implantation of the fertilized egg by altering the uterine wall.

Who Should Take the Morning-After Pill?

The morning-after pill can be taken in the following situations:

When to Take the Morning-After Pill?

Emergency contraceptive pills can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex. But the sooner you take it, the more effective it will be. Ideally, it should be taken within 72 hours (3 days).

How Effective Is the Morning-After Pill?

Pills containing Ulipristal acetate is more effective than Levonorgestrel pills. When used within 72 hours, Ulipristal is twice as likely as Levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy. Depending on the time of administration, the effectiveness of both the pills in preventing pregnancy is given below.




Within 24 hours



Within 72 hours



Within 120 hours



Which Morning-After Pill Is Right for Me?

As you would have already read, there are two types of morning-after pills available:

How Is the Morning-After Pill Taken?

Read and follow the pill’s instructions properly before taking the pill. If you feel that you need emergency contraception, take it as soon as possible. It will not work if you take it before unprotected sex. It has to be taken within 72 hours (3 days).

How Often Can the Morning-After Pill Be Taken?

It is safe to take the morning-after pill whenever necessary, but it should not be used as an ongoing form of birth control methods like an intrauterine device (IUD), ring, or patch. Frequent use of emergency contraception can make your periods unpredictable or irregular or can cause heavy menstrual bleeding. So if you take more than three morning-after pills a month, it is advisable to consider other methods of birth control.

What Are the Contraindications of the Emergency Pill?

Do not take the pill if you suspect pregnancy. Get a home or blood pregnancy test done and then take the pill. As such, there is no absolute contraindication for the use of these pills. But the efficacy of the drug may reduce in the following situations:

What Is the Other Form of Emergency Contraception?

Apart from morning-after pills, Copper intrauterine device (IUD) can be used for emergency contraception. Copper IUD if inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex, can prevent pregnancy up to 99.9%. It is the most effective form of emergency contraception.

What Are the Side Effects of the Morning-After Pill?

The possible side effects are:

Call your doctor if you vomit within a couple of hours after taking the pill, as you might have to repeat the dose.

Is It Safe to Take Morning-After Pills During Breastfeeding and Pregnancy?


Taking emergency pills containing Levonorgestrel during breastfeeding is safe. Some of the hormones in the pill can be passed to your baby through the milk, but it has shown no side effects on the baby. It will have no effect on the quantity and quality of your milk.

But it is not advisable to take emergency pills containing Ulipristal acetate during breastfeeding, as it is still unknown if it can affect your baby.


Emergency contraceptive pills will not cause abortion if you are already pregnant. The hormones present in the pill will not affect the developing fetus if implantation has already occurred. But it is advisable to get a pregnancy test done before you take the tablet.

Always choose other birth control methods as they are more effective in preventing pregnancy, and avoid using emergency contraceptive pills as much as possible. If you have missed your periods and have symptoms of pregnancy even after taking the pill, consult your gynecologist or book a real-time video consultation online.


Last reviewed at:
04 Oct 2021  -  4 min read




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