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Birth control is an option for millions of people who are sexually active but do not wish to become pregnant. When contraceptive methods fail, a person may consider taking emergency birth control, commonly known as the morning-after pill. Ella is one type of morning-after pill that people could use.

Emergency birth control can help people avoid unplanned pregnancies when other preventive methods prove unsuccessful. The National Survey of Family Growth revealed that between 2011 and 2015, 20% of sexually active females aged 15–44 years used emergency contraception. The National Center for Health Statistics specially tabulated the data, meaning that it created a custom report from multiple original datasets.

Other research found that 50% of females using emergency birth control, such as the Ella morning-after pill, did so because they had unprotected sex, while 41% worried that their usual method would not work.

Emergency birth control pills can prevent pregnancy. However, these types of pills will not end an established pregnancy.

Many different situations can prompt people to consider using emergency birth control, including:

  • having unprotected sex
  • a condom breaking or slipping
  • forgetting to take regular birth control pills

Additionally, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare states that healthcare facilities should offer emergency birth control following sexual assault.

Ella, which is a branded version of ulipristal acetate, is currently the only form of emergency birth control that affects progesterone. It prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation — the release of an egg from the ovaries.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, emergency birth control pills containing ulipristal acetate are more effective in preventing pregnancy than pills containing either progestin and estrogen or progestin-only.

Ella is only available with a valid prescription.

A person cannot get Ella without a prescription. Some individuals request a prescription from a doctor in advance so that they can have access to emergency birth control as and when they need it.

If this is not an option, a person can purchase Ella online. Multiple sites, such as Nurx or PRJKTRUBY, offer rapid and remote medical consultation and next-day delivery. However, a person should take care when purchasing any medical products online and only source them from a reputable company that requires a consultation.

Ella is a single pill that a person takes orally. Although people refer to it as a “morning-after pill,” it is not necessary to wait until the next morning to take it.

A person should consider visiting a doctor to obtain an Ella prescription as soon as possible after having unprotected sex. However, it is effective in preventing pregnancy for up to 5 days, or 120 hours.

The Ella morning-after pill has no known long-term side effects and does not affect future pregnancies.

In the short term, the side effects of birth control are typically short-lived. They may include:

What are the safety considerations?

People should bear in mind that the following supplements and medications may make Ella less effective:

  • St. John’s Wort
  • antiseizure medications, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol) and felbamate (Felbatol)
  • rifampin (Rifadin)
  • antifungal medication, such as griseofulvin (Gris-PEG)
  • barbiturates
  • bosentan (Tracleer)

Another safety consideration is that although Ella can help prevent pregnancy, it does not protect individuals from sexually transmitted infections.

After taking Ella, a person should use a barrier method rather than hormonal birth control until their next cycle.

Factors that a person may wish to consider before taking Ella include:

  • Timely access to healthcare: Ella requires a prescription, but it is most effective the sooner someone takes it. Therefore, a person should get a prescription as soon as possible.
  • Body weight: Those with a higher body mass index (BMI) should discuss Ella with a doctor before using it, as this may reduce the effectiveness of some emergency birth control medicines.
  • Breastfeeding: The manufacturer does not recommend taking Ella when breastfeeding.

Other forms of emergency birth control include the copper intrauterine device. These devices can prevent pregnancy, but they are often more difficult to access than other forms of emergency birth control, as a qualified healthcare professional must insert them.

Levonorgestrel, available under the brand name Plan B One-Step, is another emergency contraceptive that can reduce the chances of pregnancy if a person takes it within 3 days of having unprotected sex.

Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about Ella.

How much does the Ella pill cost?

Ella usually costs about $50 when a person purchases it through a pharmacy or clinic. If they order it via online consultation and opt for next-day delivery, the cost can go up to about $105.

Can you take Ella with another form of birth control?

People who take Ella and want to begin, or go back to, using a different hormonal birth control should wait until their next cycle before doing so. In the meantime, they could consider abstaining from sex or using a barrier method of birth control.

Do you need a prescription for the Ella morning after pill?

Yes. However, many online sites offer virtual consultations with licensed medical professionals and next-day delivery. Planned Parenthood clinics also offer access to consultations and prescriptions.

Birth control can help those who are sexually active but do not wish to become pregnant. However, some forms of birth control are not 100% effective, and emergency birth control pills, such as the Ella morning-after pill, can prevent pregnancy if other contraception fails.

It is best to take Ella as soon as possible after having unprotected sex, but a person can take it up to 5 days, or 120 hours, later. Ella is only available with a prescription.

The Ella morning-after pill has no known long-term side effects and should not affect future pregnancies.