Superdrug now offers women more choice and accessibility to emergency contraception by being the first high street retailer to launch a generic emergency hormonal contraceptive pill (EHC), which is now available at half the price of current branded EHC.

Niamh McMillan

Niamh McMillan

The generic emergency contraceptive pill will be priced at £13.49 and is now available at over 200 Superdrug pharmacies and on Superdrug Online Doctor.  It will also be available on in the autumn.

We got the chance to ask Superdrug Pharmacist Niamh McMillan a few things that we never knew about emergency contraception...

How does the morning after pill work?

Levonogestrel is a synthetic version of the natural hormone progesterone. In a woman’s body, progesterone plays a role in ovulation and preparing the uterus for accepting a fertilised egg. It’s not known exactly how Levonelle works, but it’s thought to work primarily by preventing or delaying ovulation.

ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate, which stops progesterone working normally. It prevents pregnancy mainly by preventing or delaying ovulation.

What is the Copper Coil?

The Copper Coil is an intrauterine device (IUD) which is a small, T-shaped contraceptive device made from plastic and copper. It’s inserted into the uterus by a trained health professional. It may prevent an egg from implanting in your womb or being fertilised.

Why is there a 72 hour time limit for EHC?

There are two kinds of emergency contraceptive pill. Levonogestrel has to be taken within 72 hours (three days) of sex, and ellaOne has to be taken within 120 hours (five days) of sex. Both work by preventing or delaying ovulation (release of an egg). The reason for the time ‘limit’ is that the effectiveness of the morning after pill decreases with time.

What are the side effects?

feeling or being sick

irregular bleeding before your next period, a light or heavy period, an early or late period

pain in tummy

breast tenderness




mood changes

What happens if you’re sick after taking the pill?

The morning after pill is known to cause both nausea and vomiting, which increases the risk of it failing. If you vomit before your body has absorbed the active substance of the pill, it won't work. If this happens to you, you must contact your doctor as you may need to take an additional dose.

What happens if you drink after taking the pill?

Alcohol does not make EHC any less effective at preventing pregnancy after sex.

Is there a weight limit?

The effectiveness of emergency contraceptive pills might be affected by a high body mass index (BMI).

ellaOne is more effective at preventing pregnancy amongst women with higher BMI's than Levonogestrel. Women with a high BMI may therefore be advised to use ellaOne rather than Levonelle. The copper coil is more effective than emergency contraceptive pills for women with very high BMI's.

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