Levonelle is one of the most well-known brands of levonorgestrel in the UK. In America, the equivalent is known as Plan B.
Levonorgestrel is a hormone that’s commonly used in a lot of daily contraceptive pills, and is a synthetic progestogen – acting in a similar way to the naturally-occurring hormone, progesterone. In tablets such as Levonelle, levonorgestrel is the only drug, and is used in higher doses than it is in daily contraceptives, usually 1.5mg.
Levonelle prevents pregnancy after unprotected sex by stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg – a process that’s necessary for you to become pregnant. It’s also thought to prevent sperm from fertilising any egg that might have already been released before taking Levonelle.
Levonelle isn’t an abortion pill, and won’t terminate an existing pregnancy, so if an egg has already been fertilised before you’ve had chance to take the pill, unfortunately it won’t be effective and you’ll need to see your GP to talk about other options.
Levonelle shouldn’t be used regularly as birth control, as other options are safer and more effective, such as the daily hormonal contraceptive pill. We recommend that if you aren’t already taking some kind of regular birth control, to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options. If you aren’t able to use hormonal methods, you should make sure you use barrier methods such as condoms of diaphragms to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
How effective is the morning after pill?
Levonelle and other morning after pills such as ellaOne aren’t as effective as regular methods of birth control such as the hormonal contraceptive pills. Morning after pills are generally around 84% effective at preventing pregnancies, so whilst the odds are in your favour, most other methods of contraception are around 99% effective.
Levonelle and ellaOne can’t help if an egg has already been fertilised, which is a possibility with unprotected sex or if barrier methods such as condoms and diaphragms have failed. However, if Levonelle is taken within 12 hours of unprotected sex, it’s more likely to be effective than if it’s left until the third day.
An alternative to the morning after pill is an IUD, which is effective at preventing pregnancy if it’s inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex. You may need to make an appointment with your doctor or at a sexual health clinic for this to be fitted.
Levonorgestrel is the medicine used in Levonelle, and is available as emergency contraception in the UK under the following names as well as the generic form:
Levonorgestrel is safe for most women to take, including those who aren’t able to use hormonal birth control, as well as breastfeeding mothers. It mimics a hormone that’s naturally produced by the female body, but because it comes in such a high concentration as the morning after pill, some women are advised to avoid it because of health reasons. For example, women with the following conditions shouldn’t buy Levonelle without seeking advice from a doctor first:
- Disease of the small bowel (such as Crohn’s) that inhibits the absorption of drugs
- Severe liver problems
- History of ectopic pregnancy
- History of salpingitis
Pregnant women should also avoid taking Levonelle. Whilst there’s currently no evidence to sya that it will harm an unborn baby, there aren’t any benefits to taking levonorgestrel during pregnancy.
If you find out that you’re pregnant after taking Levonelle, you should make an appointment to see your GP who may want to check that the pregnancy isn’t ectopic (where the foetus grows outside of the womb).
There are also some medicines that Levonorgestrel might interact with, meaning that it may affect the way other drugs work. This can be dangerous in some cases, so if you take any of the following medicines, you should speak to a pharmacist or doctor before you buy Levonelle, just to check that it’s safe for you to take:
St John’s Wort
The good news is that if you don’t have any of the conditions listed in this section, and you aren’t taking any of the medicines above, levonorgestrel should be safe for you to take to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
Levonelle side effects
When you take Levonelle, you’re ingesting a large dose or hormones, meaning that you may experience side effects. Some women don’t notice anything at all after taking the pill, whilst others report feeling unwell or having abnormal periods for a while afterwards. It’s important to read all of the side effects in the patient information leaflet so you know what to expect when taking Levonelle, even though you might not experience any symptoms.
Some of the most common side effects include:
Changed menstrual pattern
Swelling of the face
Whilst some of the above symptoms sound unpleasant or uncomfortable, most women find that they’re bearable or barely noticeable. However, if you feel that you haven’t tolerated the medicine and that you’re in a great amount of pain or discomfort, you should make an appointment with your doctor and explain your symptoms and that you’ve taken Levonelle.
How to get the morning after pill
Levonelle and other versions of the morning after pill are available for free on the NHS after you’ve had unprotected sex. However, for the pill to be most effective, you should take it as soon as possible, preferably within 12 hours. If you choose to get the morning after pill on the NHS, it’s available from:
- Most GP surgeries
- GUM clinics
- Sexual health clinics
- Some pharmacies
- Contraception clinics
- Walk in centres/minor injuries units
- Some A&E departments
If you haven’t had unprotected sex, but want to buy Levonelle or other emergency contraception for the future, you can do so online. Buying the morning after pill for the future is a good idea if you’re travelling abroad to a place where it’s difficult to obtain emergency contraception, or even if you just want to have it in your medicine cabinet in case of emergencies in future. For example, if you only use condoms for contraception and one fails, having Levonelle in the house means that you can take it as soon as possible.
You shouldn’t order the morning after pill online if you need it now. This is because delivery times can sometimes vary depending on the courier, and the medication might not reach you in enough time for it to be effective.
How much is the morning after pill?
If you decide to buy the morning after pill in advance, you can find it online for around £16.99. At Doctor4U, this price includes your consultation with one of our doctors. Whilst it isn’t free this way, it does mean that you’ll have it for the future in case of emergency.
5-day morning after pill
Levonelle is only effective for up to 3 days (or 72 hours) after unprotected sex. However, another type of morning after pill, ellaOne, is effective for up to 5 days, or 120 hours.
Levonelle isn’t a 5-day morning after pill, so if you’re specifically looking to buy one that’s effective for up to 120 hours, you should try ellaOne. However, all types of emergency contraception are most effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
The 5-day morning after pill contains ulipristal acetate, and also works by delaying ovulation.
Buy morning after pill
You can buy the morning after pill online from Doctor4U after having a consultation with one of our doctors. If you want to purchase Levonelle to have for future use, you should complete the consultation for emergency contraception, and answer all questions honestly and truthfully for the benefit of your own health. You can then choose whichever treatment you prefer. One of our doctors will review your answers and decide whether Levonelle is a suitable medicine for you, and if they think it is, an electronic prescription will be generated and your order will be shipped to you.
Delivery costs range from £1.99 for standard UK delivery with Royal Mail, all the way up to £14.99 for next-day delivery before 9am. We offer several options with both Royal Mail and DPD for your convenience.
If you decide to buy the morning after pill online, you should always look out for a logo that says “click here to verify if this website is operating legally”. Ours can be found at the footer of our website on every page, and will take you to our listing on the official MHRA page. This means that we’re regulated to the same standards as any physical GP surgery in the UK, and you can trust that any medication that comes from us adheres to EU standards.
Advice on Addiction and Medication Restrictions
If you are at all worried or concerned about an addiction to any type of medication, we urge you to speak to a professional for help and advice. Below are links to organisations that can help.
Talk To Frank
NHS Help & Advice On Drug Addiction