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Home / Emergency Contraception / Morning-After Pill Side Effects

Morning-After Pill Side Effects

The morning-after pill is a method of hormonal contraception that can be used after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure to prevent pregnancy. These treatments aren't long-term, in fact, it is just one pill taken immediately, so any side effects experienced aren't likely to be lasting or become bothersome. Most women will also find they don't experience any side effects at all. However, it's still useful to know, just in case.

Currently, there are two morning-after pills available. The first is Levonelle and the second is ellaOne, which is currently available on prescription.

To get the morning after pill, start an online consultation here, which will take approximately 5 minutes. This is quickly reviewed by the doctor and you will receive your package the next day across the UK.

Side effects of the morning-after pill

Both morning-after pills have been tested for potential side effects. These are said to be mild in nature:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Abdominal pain/cramps
  • Dizziness

If you vomit within 3 hours of taking Levonelle or ellaOne, it will be ineffective and you'll need to take another one.

Use the interactive map below to highlight the areas of the body most at risk of side effects. It's worth noting that side effects of long-term medication do tend to subside after time, once your body gets used to the medication.


Mild headaches are a common side effect of emergency contraceptives, and dizziness may also occur. Vertigo is a less common side effect.


Gastric side effects like nausea and abdominal pain are fairly common and may be accompanied by vomiting. It is less common to experience changes in appetite, though this ma occur.


After taking an emergency contraceptive you may experience irregular menstrual bleeding, mild period pain and changes to your libido.

Eyes, Nose and Mouth

Some women who have taken emergency contraceptives have reported nasal and throat congestion and mild toothache. Visual changes, such as increased sensitivity to light, is rare.

Morning after pill side effects

Click on the relevant area of the body to find out about how it may be affected by Morning after pill

The morning after pill and bleeding

There's a chance you may experience irregular bleeding after taking the morning-after pill. This is the case for both Levonelle and ellaOne.

This tends to be light in nature, also referred to as "spotting", and may require a small pad. It could continue from the time in which you've taken the pill up to your next period. If you feel troubled by the amount of bleeding, then contact your GP for further information.

As mentioned, you may also find that your period is delayed, which can be unsettling. Keep an eye on a number of days it is late. If you still haven't started your period 5 days later than usual, contact your GP.

Levonelle side effects

The side effects of Levonelle are not severe and will not affect everyone. If they do, they usually pass within a few hours to a few days of having used the medication at its most severe. The most common side effect associated with the morning-after pill is mild nausea or sickness. Other Levonelle side effects may include a change in the menstrual cycle, causing it to be earlier or later than usual. In some cases, your period can be up to 5 days late.

In a small number of cases, irregular bleeding may occur, but if your next period is more than 5 days late or is unusually light or heavy it's important that you visit your doctor. It's also advisable to speak to your doctor if you experience any serious side effects, the side effects become bothersome or you experience any other effects that are worrying you.

Below is an outline of some of the most common, uncommon and rare side effects that can be experienced after using Levonelle. If any of these effects become bothersome, are serious or you have reason to believe that you might be pregnant, such as if your period is later than usual, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Irregular menstrual bleeding
Abdominal pain
Breast tenderness
Ectopic pregnancy
Allergic reaction

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ellaOne side effects

The morning-after pill side effects associated with ellaOne are fairly similar to those of Levonelle. The most common side effect reported after taking ellaOne are abdominal/tummy cramps, similar to period cramps. Other less common side effects include irregular bleeding or spotting, headaches, prolonged bleeding, dizziness, body cramps and mood swings.

Below is an outline of some of the most common, uncommon and rare side effects that can be experienced after using ellaOne. If any of these effects become bothersome, are serious or you have reason to believe that you might be pregnant, such as if your period is later than usual, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Nausea, vomiting and/or abdominal pain
Headaches or dizziness
Mood swings
Changes in menstrual bleeding
Changes in libido
Urinary tract infection
Acid reflux
Joint pain

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Is the morning-after pill safe?

Yes, both Levonelle and ellaOne have undertaken clinical trials to ensure it is, and you must complete a consultation before purchase as a final check. A doctor or pharmacist will always prescribe you the morning-after pill after asking a certain amount of questions. As it's one pill, side effects are often temporary if they occur at all.

The morning-after pill as contraception?

The morning-after pill, although extremely helpful in emergency situations, should not be used as a regular method of birth control and never more than once within a single menstrual cycle. If you are currently using another hormonal birth control method, you may be able to continue taking it as normal, after using the morning-after pill. It is, however, recommended that you use a barrier method until your next period, especially if you used ellaOne that contains ulipristal acetate, which can influence how progestogen works in the body. Should you vomit within 3 hours of taking a morning-after pill, it might not have had time to work like it should, and you may have to take another dose.

For more information about the morning-after pill, or to begin your consultation, click below.

More Info About The Morning-After Pill

Medically reviewed by
Dr. Sarah Donald MRCGP DFSRH DPD DRCOG Written by our editorial team
Last reviewed 11-06-2022
Emergency Contraception (Morning After Pill)

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