What is Ella®, and how soon would I need to take it?
Ella® is an emergency contraceptive (“morning-after pill”) that’s sold by prescription only and may prevent pregnancy if it’s taken within 120 hours of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.[1]

How effective is it?
Studies indicate that it can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 62-85%.[2]

How does it work?
Ella® seems to prevent pregnancy mainly by delaying ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary).[3] Because sperm can live in a woman’s body for several days after she has sex, if she releases an egg during that time, she could get pregnant.However, because of changes Ella® causes to the lining of the uterus [4], there is some concern that it could also act after conception to prevent the fertilized egg from implanting.

Is Ella® the same as RU-486, the abortion pill?
No. Ella® is designed to prevent pregnancy, while RU-486 is designed to terminate pregnancies. However, you might want to be aware that the two drugs have a similar mode of action. Ella® (ulipristal acetate) is less powerful than mifepristone (one of the drugs used in RU-486), but both work by inhibiting the function of progesterone [5], a hormone that helps the body sustain pregnancy.That’s why it’s possible that Ella® might have an effect even after conception—and why, if you are pregnant, you should not take Ella®.[6] Contact us instead for for free pregnancy verification or to discuss your options.

Does Ella® offer any protection against sexually transmitted diseases?
No.[7] If you have had sex with someone who may have had other partners, or if you have been sexually assaulted, please seek STD testing. Early diagnosis and treatment of some STDs can reduce your risk of experiencing serious health consequences like pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.[8]

What side effects am I likely to experience if I take Ella®?
Side effects of Ella® may include changes in your period, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, cramps, vaginal bleeding, PMS, mood swings, fatigue, headache, dizziness, and infections of the nose/throat or urinary tract. Ella® may also make hormonal contraceptives less effective.If you vomit within three hours of taking Ella®, contact your healthcare provider. If you have severe abdominal pain, seek immediate medical care in case you have an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. Breastfeeding mothers should discard their breastmilk for 36 hours after taking Ella®.[9]

How is Ella® likely to change my menstrual cycle?
Ella® may change your cycle so that your next period is earlier or later than you expected. If your period is over a week late or if it is lighter or heavier than usual, you may want to take a pregnancy test to rule out the possibility of pregnancy.[10]

Who should avoid taking Ella®?
Ella® should not be taken by women who might be pregnant. It should not be taken by women who are allergic to any of the ingredients, more than once in the same cycle, or as an ongoing method of birth control.[11]

Is Ella® available at Blue Ridge Women’s Center?
No, it’s not. If you have further questions about Ella®, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Please note that any information provided by Blue Ridge Women’s Center is for reference only and does not constitute professional advice, nor can it replace regular consultation with your physician or other appropriate professionals.

[1] Ellaone Package Leaflet (http://www.hra-pharma.com/downloads/emea-SPC-Ellaone.pdf, updated 9/23/13).
[2] See, for example, “Ulipristal Acetate Taken 48-120 Hours After Intercourse for Emergency Contraception” in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Feb. 2010 (http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/ fulltext/2010/02000/ulipristal_acetate_taken_48_120_hours_after.9.aspx, accessed 4/26/11), and “Emergency contraception: potential role of ulipristal acetate” in International Journal of Women’s Health, 2010 (http://www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2971744/, accessed 4/26/11).
[3] “Emergency contraception: potential role of ulipristal acetate” in International Journal of Women’s Health, 2010 (http://www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2971744/, accessed 4/26/11).
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ellaone Package Leaflet (http://www.hra-pharma.com/downloads/emea-SPC-Ellaone.pdf, accessed 4/26/11).
[7] Ibid.
[8] Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Fact Sheet from the Centers for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/ std/PID/STDFact-PID.htm, updated 3/26/14).
[9] Ellaone Package Leaflet (http://www.hra-pharma.com/downloads/emea-SPC-Ellaone.pdf, accessed 4/26/11)
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.