ella emergency contraception prevents pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex. It’s more effective than other morning-after pills (like Plan B), but you need a prescription to get it. Like all morning-after pills, take ella ASAP.
How effective is the ella morning-after pill?
ella lowers your chances of getting pregnant by 85% if you take it within 5 days after unprotected sex — but the sooner you take it, the better. ella is the most effective type of morning-after pill you can get.
ella works better than other morning-after pills for people who weigh more than 165 pounds. But if you weigh 195 pounds or more, ella won't work as well for you. To figure out which method is best for you, take our EC quiz.
How do I take the ella morning-after pill?
Take ella as soon as you can within 5 days (120 hours) after you have unprotected sex. Simply swallow the tablet the way you would any other pill. Read the instructions that come in the package for more information.
Don't take more than 1 dose of ella at a time — it won't give you extra protection from pregnancy, but it can make you feel nauseated.
When do I take ella?
You can take ella up to 5 days after unprotected sex. But if you need emergency contraception, try to get ella as quickly as you can — the sooner you act, the better.
Why take ella ASAP? Because ella works by delaying ovulation until the sperm die out (they can live in your body waiting for an egg for several days). If you take ella after you've already ovulated, it's too late and ella won't work. It's really hard to know when you ovulate, so the sooner you take ella the more likely it is to beat ovulation.
What should I do after taking ella?
Take a pregnancy test if you don’t get your period within 3 weeks after taking ella.
If you take ella and you end up needing emergency contraception again within 5 days:
- Make sure you use ella again, and not Plan B or other levonorgestrel morning-after pills.
If you took ella and want to start using a new hormonal birth control method afterward:
- Wait 6 days after you had unprotected sex before you start using your new method.
- For the days that you don't have hormonal birth control, use another method of birth control, like condoms.
- Continue using that backup method of birth control however long it takes for your new hormonal birth control method to start working.
If you’re breastfeeding:
- Pump and throw away your milk for 24 hours after you take ella.
- So, only use ella if you’re OK with pumping and throwing away your milk for the next 24 hours. (You don’t have to pump and throw away your milk if you use other kinds of emergency contraception.)
How do I take ella if I’m using another method of birth control?
If you were taking hormonal birth control and you were more than 7 days late on your pill/ring/patch when you took ella, wait 6 days after unprotected sex before you re-start your pill/ring/patch. Use a backup method (like condoms) during those 6 days, plus however long it takes for your regular birth control method to start working again.
If you recently started taking the pill/ring/patch and were using it for less than a week when you made a mistake, wait 6 days after unprotected sex before you restart your pill/ring/patch — and use a backup method (like condoms) during those 6 days, plus however long it takes for your regular birth control method to start working again.
If you have questions about restarting your regular birth control method, you can use our Missed Pill/Patch/Ring tool or call your nurse or doctor.
If you take ella because it’s been more than 15 weeks since your last birth control shot, wait 6 days after unprotected sex before you get your next shot — use a backup method (like condoms) during those 6 days, and the first week after getting your shot.
Does ella have side effects?
ella is super safe, and side effects aren’t common. There have been no reports of any serious complications from taking ella.
After you take ella, it's totally normal for your next period to be different from what you’re used to. It may come earlier or later, and be heavier, lighter, or more spotty. Or, it may be the same as it normally is.
Where can I get ella?
You need a prescription to get ella. There are a few different ways you can get a prescription and get ella quickly.
You may be able to get a prescription for ella by calling your nurse or doctor, like your gynecologist. You can ask if they’ll send the prescription straight to your local pharmacy without needing you to come in for an appointment.
You can get ella, or a prescription for ella, from your local Planned Parenthood health center. You may also be able to get it from another family planning or health clinic.
Depending on the state you live in, you may be able to get a prescription directly from your pharmacist, without seeing a doctor or visiting a health center. Call the drugstore or pharmacy first, to make sure they can write you a prescription and that they have ella in stock.
How much does the ella morning-after pill cost?
ella usually costs about $50 or more at the pharmacy or drugstore, but it might be totally free if you have health insurance or Medicaid. Under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), most insurance plans must cover prescription birth control and doctor’s visits that are related to birth control. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health insurance provider for more information about using insurance to pay for ella.
You may be able to get ella for free or low cost from a Planned Parenthood health center, your local health department, or another family planning clinic. Call your nearest health center to find out if they can help you get emergency contraception that fits your budget. The staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center can also help you figure out if your insurance will pay for your morning-after pill.
Because timing is super important when it comes to the morning-after pill and it may take a while to get a prescription, call your doctor or your local Planned Parenthood health center as soon as you can.
If you want to plan ahead and get ella before you need it, you can also ask your nurse or doctor for a prescription for ella the next time you have an appointment. You can keep it in your medicine cabinet and it will be there for you, just in case. That way you can take it as soon as possible if an accident happens, and you won’t have to worry about getting a prescription when you’re stressed out.
What medicines affect how well ella works?
These medicines or supplements can make ella not work as well:
• The antibiotic Rifampin (other antibiotics don’t make ella less effective)
• The antifungal Griseofulvin (other antifungals don’t make ella less effective)
• Certain HIV medicines
• Certain anti-seizure medicines (these are sometimes also used to treat psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder)
• The herb St. John’s Wort
Tell your nurse or doctor about any medications you’re taking when you get your prescription for ella — they can help you figure out if ella is a good option for you.