Levonelle is an emergency contraceptive that is taken within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex or if the usual contraceptive method has failed. It is used to prevent pregnancy.
Levonelle is the branded name for a ‘morning after’ pill. There are two different ‘morning after’ pills available to buy – Levonelle and EllaOne. EllaOne contains the drug ulipristal acetate and Levonelle contains the drug levonorgestrel.
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 12 hours rather than delay until the third day.
Levonelle does not continue to protect against pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex any time after taking Levonelle you can become pregnant.
How does Levonelle work?
Women are most fertile around the time their ovaries release an egg (ovulation) in the menstrual cycle. Ovulation usually occurs around 12 to 14 days before the next period starts. The chance of becoming pregnant after having unprotected sex is highest during this time.
Levonelle is thought to work by stopping or delaying ovulation. It may also prevent sperm from fertilising an egg that may have already been released. Levonelle only works if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Levonelle’s effectiveness is significantly reduced if taken 72 hours or more after unprotected sex. For this reason, it should not be used if unprotected sex was over 72 hours prior.
The Levonelle pill does not work if you are already pregnant. If unprotected sex has already occured in the same menstrual cycle you may already be pregnant, meaning Levonelle will not work. If you suspect you may already be pregnant, please mention this when completing our online form.
Levonelle is taken as a single dose as soon as possible after unprotected sex. In rare circumstances people may be prescribed 2 tablets instead of one.
Leevonelle and regular contraception
Leevonelle can be used as an emergency contraceptive, even if you are already using regular contraception. An example is forgetting to take your regular pill.
After you take Leevonelle you should:
- Take your next contraceptive pill, insert a new ring or apply a new patch within 12 hours of taking Leevonelle
- Continue taking your contraceptive pill as usual
Your regular contraception method will not be effective immediately. You should abstain from sex or use a condom for 7 days except:
- 9 days if taking Qlaira
- 2 days if taking the progestogen-only pill (POP or mini-pill)
Taking this precaution ensures your regular contraception becomes effective before having unprotected sex again.
Leevonelle and other emergency contraception should only be used as an occasional contraceptive method. If you find you need to use emergency contraception on a regular basis, you should consider using regular contraception. These methods of contraception are more effective at preventing pregnancy. Examples of regular contraception:
- Combined pill
- Mini-pill (progestogen-only pill)
- Hormone implant
- Hormone coil
- Copper coil
- Hormone patch
- Vaginal ring