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, so any side effects experienced aren't likely to be lasting or become bothersome.
Currently, there are two morning-after pills available. The first is Levonelle and the second is ellaOne, which is currently available on prescription only for women over 18. Both morning-after pills have been tested for potential side effects, although Levonelle has been available for longer than ellaOne and has as such been subjected to more clinical trials and testing.
Mild headaches are a common side effect of emergency contraceptives, and dizziness may also occur. Vertigo is a less common side effect.Gastric
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.Gynaecological
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.
The side effects of this morning-after pill are not severe, will not affect everyone and usually pass within a few days of having used the medication. 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 five days late.
In a small number of cases, irregular bleeding may occur, but if your next period is more than five 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.
ellaOne is a newer emergency contraceptive pill, although it is still considered to be safe to use. 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.
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 three 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.