Emergency Contraceptive Pill – UPA

An emergency contraceptive pill can be taken following unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.
Emergency Contraceptive Pill – UPA
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Street names Morning after pill
Medical names Ulipristal Acetate (UPA), Ella One® (brand)
Effectiveness ?
It lasts 1 time only
Fertility Usual ovulation will return after taking it
Who can use it? People with a vagina and uterus of any age from menarche to menopause
Hormones Contains ulipristal acetate hormone
Visibility You will need to answer a series of questions at a pharmacy
STIs No protection ?
Side effects Nausea, headache, and uterine bleeding
Cost $40—$50 for 1 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

How does it work?

If you have not yet ovulated, it will delay ovulation. If you have already ovulated it will change the mucus lining of the uterus so that any eggs (ova) in the fallopian tubes will not stick to the uterus wall. This prevents pregnancy.

The emergency contraceptive pill must be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. UPA can be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. The street name ‘morning after pill’ does not reflect how the pill works. It doesn’t matter what time of day the sexual intercourse happens, you may be able to access the pill sooner than the day after.

Also consider using the Copper IUD as an emergency contraceptive method. It works as an emergency contraceptive when inserted within 1-5 days after unprotected sex. It is more effective in preventing pregnancy and it will work as a long term contraceptive.

The emergency contraceptive pill contains 30ug of a ulipristal acetate hormone. It only works as a contraceptive once.

What’s it like to use?

If you are at risk of an unplanned pregnancy you may feel emotionally stressed or depressed. There is support available.

Side effects can be experienced soon after taking the medication. Uterine bleeding usually starts within 1 week and can be much like a menstrual period.

The emergency contraceptive pill is only 85% effective. If after 3 weeks of taking the pill you have not experienced uterine or menstrual bleeding, consider taking a pregnancy test and/or seeing a doctor.

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 options.

What if I forget about it?

If the unprotected sex was within the past 5 days, consider using a Copper IUD.

If it is more than 5 days after unprotected sex, check to see if you are pregnant. You can buy a pregnancy test from a pharmacy, or have a test done during at an appointment at a reproductive and sexual health clinic or your local doctor.

Who can use it?

People with a vagina and uterus of any age, from menarche to menopause.

Side effects

After you take the emergency contraceptive pill your body may take time to adjust to the added hormones.

Read the instructions on the packet carefully. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, headaches, breast tenderness, mood changes and acne. Sometimes anti-nausea medication may be used to manage side effects. Uterine bleeding will usually begin within one week of taking the pill.

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 your local 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 EC will be useful and not harmful to you. You can ask to talk somewhere private with a 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.

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

The emergency contraceptive pill costs approximately $40-$50.

What if you change your mind

The emergency contraceptive pill is a single dose. It will not have any long term effect on your ovulation or fertility.