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Levonorgestrel (brand name Levonelle) is effective up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.
Levonorgestrel is an effective morning after pill shown to be around 98% effective if taken within the first 24 hours after unprotected intercourse. It is still effective if used after this time period, however effectiveness diminishes over time and is largely ineffective if take after 72 hours (ellaOne is still effective after this period up to 120 hours). Research has found it to be less effective in women who are overweight (BMI>30) so we recommend using ellaOne instead. You can check your body mass index (BMI) using this Body Mass Index Calculator
The way levonorgestrel prevents pregnancy is not fully understood but it is thought to work by:
Women ovulate at different times during this menstrual cycle, and levonorgestrel is thought to work best if used before ovulation, when the likelihood of fertilisation is highest.
Levonorgestrel should not be used more than once in the same cycle as it may cause significant disturbances in your regular cycle. It should not be taken in the same cycle as ellaOne.
How to take
Levonorgestrel comes as a single pill and should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse, with or without food. If you experience any vomiting within 3 hours of taking, you should take another dose.
Levonorgestrel is usually well tolerated and side effects are usually not experienced. Side effects can include:
Taking levonorgestrel can affect your cycle, whereby you may start your next period earlier or later than expected and this is not usually a cause for concern.
WARNING – If your period is more than 5 days late, you should exclude pregnancy by taking a pregnancy test. If you experience any severe abdominal pains this may indicate an ectopic pregnancy and you should seek medical help immediately. Taking emergency contraception does not increase the chances of having an ectopic pregnancy.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
There is no evidence to suggest taking this medication will harm a baby that develops in your uterus/womb.
The active ingredient of this medicine is excreted into your breast milk.It is suggested that you take your tablet immediately after a breast-feeding and avoid nursing at least 8 hours following levonorgestrel administration then drain your milk with a breast pump for 8 hours following tablet taking. In this way you are taking your tablet well before the next feed and reducing the amount of active ingredient your baby may take in with the breast milk.
As with any medication, please read the information leaflet found inside the medication box prior to taking. This can be found here.