Post-coital contraception   Ulipristal Acetate (UPA)
Known as  Morning after pill Morning after pill, Plan B
Medical names  Levonorgestrel, LNG-EC, emergency contraception, Levonelle® (brand), Norlevo® (brand), Postinor® (brand) Ulipristal Acetate (UPA), Ella One® (brand)
 Hormones  Contains progestogen hormone  Selective progesterone receptor modulator
Effectiveness  Prevents up to 85% of pregnancies 
It lasts 1 time only
How it works Prevents or delays ovulation 
Fertility Usual ovulation will return after taking it
Who can use it?  People with a vagina and uterus of any age from first period to menopause
Visibility Oral tablet, single dose
STIs No protection
Side effects Nausea, vomiting, headache, breast tenderness
Cost  $15 - $30 for 1 dose $30-$50 for one dose
Where to get it  Available at pharmacies. If you are in Queensland and under 16 years of age you will need to visit a reproductive and sexual health clinic or your local doctor for a prescription first


Emergency Contraceptive Pill – UPA & LNG-EC

An emergency contraceptive pill can be taken following unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.









Emergency Contraceptive Pill

How does it work?

Thereare two types of the emergency contraceptive pill: Levonorgestrel (1.5mg) andUlipristal acetate (30mg). Both pills prevent or delay ovulation however,ulipristal acetate is effective for up to 5 days after unprotected sex andlevonorgestrel is only effective for up to 3 days after unprotected sex.

The emergency contraceptive pill should be taken as soon as possible afterunprotected sex. It is effective 3- 5 days (72- 120 hours) depending on whichtablet you take. The street name ‘morning after pill’ does not reflect how thepill works. It doesn’t matter what time of day the sexual intercourse happens,and you can access the pill sooner than the day after sex. 

Alternatively, you may want to considerthe Copper IUD as an emergency contraceptive method. The copper IUD works as anemergency contraceptive when inserted within 5 days (120 hours) afterunprotected sex. A copper IUD works by changing the lining of the uterus and preventsthe sperm from being able to reach the egg. It is more effective in preventingpregnancy than the morning after pill and it will work as a long-termcontraceptive. You can ask your healthcare provider whether this is a suitableoption for you. Not all healthcare providers will offer IUD insertion.


What’s it like to use?

Both levonorgestrel and ulipristal acetate are one tablet, taken once. Some people experience nausea and vomiting after taking the emergency contraceptive pill. If you vomit with 2 hours of taking levonorgestrel and 3 hours of taking ulipristal acetate, the medication may not work, and it is advised to take another pill.

Some medications can reduce the effectiveness of the emergency contraceptive pill so it is important to talk with your healthcare provider or the pharmacist about any other medicines you are taking.

The emergency contraceptive pill is 85% effective at preventing pregnancy. Most people will experience their period at the usual time but it can occur earlier or later than expected for some people. If your period is more than a week late or is lighter than usual or you experience bleeding that is unusual, you should do a pregnancy test.

The copper IUD is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and is the most effective emergency contraceptive.

It is a good idea to visit a reproductive and sexual health clinic or your local doctor after you have used the emergency contraceptive pill to discuss your ongoing contraceptive needs. 


What if I forget about it?

Emergency contraception is more likely to be effective the sooner you take it.

Levonorgestrel can be take up to 72hours after unprotected sex. It can be used more than once in a menstrual cycle.

Both ulipristal acetate and the copper IUD can be used up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex.


Who can use it?

Women and people with a uterus of any age from first period to menopause.

Both levonorgestrel and ulipristal acetate may be less effective in people with a BMI over 30kg/m.

You can speak to your healthcare provider about which method is suitable for you.

Side effects

Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, headaches, breast tenderness,

If you need emergency contraception you may also be at risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Consider having an STI test. 

If at any point you feel that this contraceptive method is making you feel uncomfortable or unwell, get advice from a doctor or medical professional. If it is an emergency, call an ambulance on 000. 


How and where to get it

Reproductive and sexual health clinics have emergency appointments available for people who need to access emergency contraception.

The emergency contraceptive pill is available from a pharmacy without a prescription. In Queensland, if you are under 16 you may need to get a prescription from a reproductive and sexual health clinic, your local doctor, or emergency department of a hospital. 

At the pharmacy you will need to ask to speak to a pharmacist and tell them you would like to purchase Emergency Contraception. They will ask you some questions to make sure that taking the emergency contraception pill will be useful and not harmful to you. You can ask to talk somewhere private with the pharmacist. Lots of people use emergency contraception, so they will be used to talking to people about it. You can ask the pharmacist questions about how it works. 

A pharmacist might need to document some of the information from your conversation for their records. Pharmacists need to respect your privacy and will keep information about you confidential. This means that they cannot tell other people, including family members or teachers, about giving you emergency contraception pill.

Some of the things that the pharmacist may ask you include: 

  • what contraception you use
  • when your last menstrual bleed was 
  • how long since you had unprotected sex (how many days or hours?) 
  • other medications or herbal supplements you might be taking 
  • medical conditions you might have 
  • if you are in Queensland, they might ask your age. If you are under 16 you will need to get a prescription from a GP. 

If it is more than 5 days since unprotected sex, the pharmacist will not provide emergency contraception pill to you because it will not work. 

If the pharmacist does not have the emergency contraception pill in stock, or does not have enough information to determine if the emergency contraception pill will be effective, or does not want to supply it for their own religious reasons, or the use of the emergency contraception pill is unlikely to be effective, they should refer you to a GP, sexual health clinic or emergency department in a hospital. 

You can also get a prescription in advance from a reproductive and sexual health clinic or your local doctor if you think that you may need emergency contraception in the future. 

The emergency contraceptive pill costs between $15-$50. Ulipristal acetate is more expensive than levonorgestrel. Copper IUD will likely incur additional fees for insertion as well as the device.

Questions you may want to ask

It is important that you feel confident making a decision. Some questions you might want to ask the pharmacist include: 

  • are there any side effects to this medication? 
  • how do I need to take it? 
  • will it affect my menstrual cycle? 
  • do I need to use any other forms of contraception in the following days/ weeks?
  • will it protect me from STIs?
  • can I have unprotected sex after taking EC?
  • how much does it cost?


Can someone else get the emergency contraceptive pill for me? 

If someone else goes to the pharmacy to get the emergency contraceptive pill (such as a parent, partner, or friend) the pharmacist will still ask them questions (or ask to speak with you on the phone) to make sure that the emergency contraceptive pill will be useful and not harmful. It may be difficult for the pharmacist to make a decision to supply the emergency contraceptive pill because they need to make sure that the person who will be taking it understands how it works, and whether it is their decision (and not someone else’s) to use emergency contraception. If the pharmacist is unable to supply the emergency contraceptive pill, they should refer you to a GP, sexual health clinic or emergency department in a hospital. 


What if you change your mind

The emergency contraceptive pill is a single dose. It will not have any long term effects on your ovulation or fertility. The copper IUD can be removed if you change your mind about using it and your normal fertility will return.


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