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Ulipristal for Emergency Contraception

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Ulipristal for Emergency Contraception


Generic NameBrand Name
ulipristal acetate ella, ellaOne,

Ulipristal is sold as "ella" in the Unites States and as "ellaOne" in Europe. It comes in a one-pill package (30 milligrams) that you can buy at most drugstores.

How to take ulipristal

Emergency contraception is used after unprotected sex to prevent a pregnancy from starting. It's most effective when used as soon as possible after intercourse. Ulipristal is a new kind of pill that gives you more time after unprotected sex to take emergency contraception.

How It Works

Ulipristal works by preventing or delaying ovulation. It won't protect you for the rest of your menstrual cycle. Continue to use your regular birth control method. And talk to your doctor about whether you need a backup method after you've taken ulipristal. If you don't have a regular method of birth control, talk to your doctor about starting one.

Ulipristal won't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you're worried that you might have been exposed to an STI, talk to your doctor.

Ulipristal isn't your only choice. There are other emergency contraception methods and pills available, including some that don't require a prescription.

Why It Is Used

Emergency contraception is meant to be used as a backup method for preventing pregnancy. For regular protection, be sure that you have:

You can use emergency contraception if you aren't confident that you were protected against pregnancy during intercourse. This can happen if:

Be sure to plan with your doctor for your birth control needs.

How Well It Works

Ulipristal and the other emergency contraception pill, levonorgestrel (such as Next Choice or Plan B), work well when used soon after unprotected sex:

After you take ulipristal, your next period may start a few days earlier or later than expected. If your period is more than 7 days later than expected, or if it is lighter than expected, you should get a pregnancy test.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine. Usually, the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

Call your doctor right away if:

Common side effects of this medicine include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Some pharmacists refuse to fill emergency contraception prescriptions based on their personal beliefs. If this happens to you, ask for the location of a pharmacist who will fill the prescription, or:

Since you need a prescription to buy ulipristal, your health insurance may cover the cost.

Birth control experts recommend having emergency contraception pills, or a prescription for them, on hand in case you ever need them. Throw away any pills that are past the expiration date. You can find the expiration date on or inside the package the pills come in.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Glasier AF, et al. (2010) Ulipristal acetate versus levonorgestrel for emergency contraception: A randomised non-inferiority trial and meta-analysis. Lancet, 375(9714): 555–562.

  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2010). Emergency contraception. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 112. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 115(5): 1100–1109.

Other Works Consulted

Credits for Ulipristal for Emergency Contraception

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised May 4, 2012

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