Emergency contraception is a safe and effective way to avoid unintended pregnancy if you have had unprotected sexual intercourse or if your usual contraceptive method has failed. Emergency contraception should not replace a regular method of contraceptive protection.

Emergency Contraception is available on the medical card directly from pharmacies without a prescription, or from a doctor or family planning clinic (Ireland only).

There are two types of emergency hormonal oral contraception (morning after pill) available.


  • Levonorgestrel 1.5 mg is used to prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.¹-²
  • It prevents ovulation and fertilisation if intercourse has taken place in the preovulatory phase, when the likelihood of fertilisation is the highest.¹-²
  • The tablet must be taken as soon as possible, preferably within 12 hours, and no longer than 72 hours after unprotected sex.
  • Levonorgestrel 1.5 mg is more effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex.¹


  • ellaOne® is used to prevent pregnancy if taken within 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.3
  • The tablet contains ulipristal acetate and works by inhibiting or delaying ovulation by suppressing the luteinizing hormone surge.3
  • ellaOne is effective at preventing pregnancy for 5 days after unprotected sex however the tablet should be taken as soon as possible. 3


  • Some IUD Copper coils are licenced for emergency contraception which can be inserted by specially trained GP’s or Family Planning Clinics.4
  • It is a copper-bearing intrauterine device that is effective immediately after insertion and works primarily by inhibiting fertilisation.4
  • This can be done up to five days after unprotected sex and can be left in the uterus for up to 10 years as a regular method of contraception.5


  • Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or infections..1,3If you have had unprotected sex you should take the necessary precautions and get tested to ensure you have not contracted a sexually transmitted infection.
  • Emergency contraception causes a disturbance to the menstrual cycle so it is not recommended to use it more than once within a menstrual cycle.1,2
  • Emergency contraception does not protect you from pregnancy the next time you have sex.1,3
  • Women continuing to use a hormonal method of contraception are advised to take extra precautions for 7 days following use of Levonorgestrel 1.5 mg© and for the remainder of their menstrual cycle following use of ellaOne..1,3 as ellaOne has the potential to reduce the effectiveness of oral contraception.3
  • Breastfeeding women are advised to avoid breastfeeding for 8 hours following intake of Levonorgestrel 1.5 mg and for women who have taken ellaOne, breastfeeding is not recommended for one week.3
  • ellaOne is not intended for use during pregnancy.

Talk to your local pharmacist, GP or Family Planning Clinic today for further advice and information on emergency contraception.


  1. https://www.hpra.ie/
  2. Norlevo SPC
  3. ellaOne SPC
  4. Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare Clinical Guidance Emergency Contraception Clinical Effectiveness Unit August 2011 (Updated January 2012)
  5. http://www.thinkcontraception.ie/Emergency-Contraception/Your-Choices.231.1.aspx Last accessed July 2022

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The information on this website is intended for patients who have been prescribed Zoely that reside in the Republic of Ireland or Malta only.