The morning after pill: how it works, how to take it and price

Sometimes a contraceptive method can fail. The condom can tear, the contraceptive can be forgotten or the heat of the moment can make you ignore the possibility of becoming pregnant, among other things.

In such cases, unwanted pregnancy can be a danger. In such moments, emergency contraceptive methods can help.

Read and learn more about the morning after pill!


What is the morning after pill?

The morning-after pill, also known as emergency contraception, is a contraceptive method that can be effective up to 72 hours after intercourse without precautions against pregnancy and can dramatically decrease the chances of it happening.

The active ingredient in the morning after pill is levonorgestrel, a type of synthetic progesterone (the female hormone used in contraceptives). Compared to contraceptives that are taken daily, the morning after pill contains up to 20 times more hormones.

In addition to levonorgestrel, there is also Ulipristal Acetate, which acts differently and according to some studies may be more effective.

The synthetic hormone prevents or slows the egg out of the ovary, or it can make it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Thus, the pill prevents fertilization from occurring (union of the sperm with the egg).

The effectiveness of the pill depends on how early it is taken after unprotected sex and the amount of hormones present in the drug can present health risks.

Therefore, it should not be used as the first contraceptive option, only as an emergency.

When should I take the morning after pill?

Taking the morning-after pill should not be a habit. It must be a plan B, an emergency path for when things don’t go as planned. Using it as a contraceptive every time is dangerous. It can be used in the following cases:

  • Sex without a condom;
  • The condom breaks or slips;
  • When you forget the regular birth control pill, especially if forgetting happened more than once in the same pack;
  • Expulsion of the IUD;
  • Displacement or removal of the diaphragm;
  • Sexual violence.

Any situation in which sex is not accompanied by a contraceptive method, or that method fails, is indicated for the use of the pill. However, it is necessary to be careful, as repeated use is harmful to health.

How does the morning after pill?

The morning after pill acts in three ways:

  • Prevents the egg from being released or delays the release of the egg;
  • Difficult uterine penetration of sperm;
  • It reduces the movements of the uterine tubes (which carry the egg), making the passage of sexual cells difficult.

These actions significantly reduce the risk of pregnancy, since without an egg, or with the egg not reaching the uterus, there is no way to generate an embryo.

It is worth remembering that the pill has no cumulative effect, so if there is another unprotected sexual relationship after using the pill, the chances of pregnancy are the same as those who did not use the drug . It is good to pay attention to the contraceptive methods available.

How long does the effect of the morning-after pill last?

The duration of the morning after pill’s effect is quite short, and it is not recommended to have unprotected sex even a few hours after taking the emergency medicine. Gradually, her action is also decreasing, and after 48 hours, she has already dropped considerably.

Next day pill and menstruation

The morning-after pill changes the hormonal amount in the woman’s body, which affects the menstrual cycle and can cause several effects.

Does the morning-after pill delay menstruation?

It is possible that the pill will delay menstruation. If this happens, it is recommended to wait 15 days before taking a pregnancy test. On the other hand, it is also possible that the pill will cause vaginal bleeding to escape.

After taking the morning-after pill, how long does it take to menstruate?

It depends on your body, how it reacts to the pill and where you are in the menstrual cycle.

The pill can delay menstruation by three weeks. Her hormone messes up the entire cycle, and it can take one to two months for it to normalize. It also has the ability to advance or delay menstruation.

What does menstruation look like after taking the morning-after pill?

In addition to the dysregulation of the menstrual cycle, the morning-after pill can change menstruation. It can come in larger quantities and darker because of the medication’s hormone.

Names and brands: what is the best pill for the next day?

There are several brands of morning-after pill accessible in pharmacies, in addition to free access guaranteed by health centers. In general, they act in a similar way and have their effectiveness assessed by ANVISA. Some, however, are for single use and others in 2 tablets, which may be a criterion of choice:


The levonorgestrel is an emergency contraceptive that works by inhibiting or delaying ovulation, and prevent sperm from entering the uterus and change the passage of sexual gametes the fallopian tubes.

Some of the trade names of this medicine are:

  • Postinor uno;
  • Diad ;
  • Pilem .

Ulipristal acetate

The Ulipristal acetate also acts as a contraceptive method of emergency. It occupies progesterone receptors, preventing the hormone from being received, which in turn prevents the eggs from being released.

The trade name for this medicine is as follows:

  • Ulip .


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

How to take the morning after pill?

The correct way to take the morning-after pill can be consulted on the medication leaflet or, at the time of purchase, with information from pharmacy professionals. It can come in one (single dose) or two tablets, depending on the manufacturer:

Single dose

When the tablet is unique, just take it as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse, preferably with water.

Remember that the sooner you take the pill, the more guaranteed the effect is, since after the egg is fixed in the endometrium, the morning-after pill has no effect.

2 tablets

In the case of two tablets, the package insert should be read to be sure of the order and times at which they should be taken, as this may vary from brand to brand.

However, in general, the first tablet should be taken as soon as possible and the second 12 hours after the first.

Can I take the two pills together?

At first, yes, you can, especially if there is a risk of forgetting about it 12 hours later. But it is recommended to follow the instructions on the package insert and take them separately.

How long after taking the morning-after pill can I have sex?

After taking the morning-after pill, you can have sex at any time. That is, there is no need to wait for your action. However, sex must be protected, with the use of condoms, for example, so that there is no new risk of pregnancy, as it will not maintain protection.

Is the morning-after pill bad for you?

The amount of hormones that are in a morning-after pill is equivalent to half a pack of daily contraceptive pills.

A gynecologist should be consulted to find out if the pill is indicated or not, but if there are no contraindications that fit you, using it once shouldn’t hurt. The problem is when the pill starts to be used frequently .


Taking the morning-after pill frequently, more than once a month, can cause several problems.

It causes subsequent pills to lose their effectiveness, in addition to the amount of hormones causing nausea, headaches and diarrhea , dysregulation of the menstrual cycle, changes in the skin, hair, mood and even accumulations of fat.

Symptoms and side effects when taking the morning after pill

The main symptoms and side effects are diarrhea, nausea, headache , fluid retention, tiredness and vomiting. If the woman vomits less than two hours after taking the pill, the absorption of the medication may have been stopped.

Among other effects, menstruation can be affected. In some cases, with the flaking of the endometrium, the menstrual period can be advanced. The pill can also delay bleeding. If this happens, expect to be fifteen days late and take a pregnancy test.

It is important to remember that none of these effects will necessarily occur. There are women who take the pill and go through it without any side effects.

Ectopic pregnancy

There are small chances that the morning-after pill will lead to an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb), in which case it can happen inside the fallopian tubes.

If the hormone takes effect after an egg is released by the ovaries, it is stopped halfway to the uterus, inside the tubes, the place where fertilization usually occurs so that afterwards the fertilized egg goes to the uterus.

This usually does not have a negative result since, as the fertilized egg remains there (thanks to the pill’s effect, which reduces the mobility of the fallopian tubes), it is reabsorbed by the body.

However, in some rare cases, after fertilization, it can implant in the tube instead of the uterus.

Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency. The growth of a fetus in the fallopian tubes can rupture them, causing severe bleeding, and most cases end in spontaneous abortion.

There are very rare cases where the baby has managed to develop to maturity and the delivery was done through surgery.

The surgical procedure that is done in these cases often results in the loss of the affected tube and the baby.

How long do the side effects of the morning after pill last?

Side effects can last up to 72 hours, but it is important to remember that the contraceptive effects of the morning-after pill do not last that long, remaining for only 24 hours.

If you took a pill the next day, you can still get pregnant by having unprotected sex 48 hours later.

What are the contraindications for the morning after pill?

This method of emergency contraception should be avoided by women who have cardiovascular, metabolic, hypertension, coagulation problems and morbid obesity .

Liver diseases are also contraindications, as the pill is metabolized in the liver. In addition, the known or historical risk of thrombosis is also a risk factor for those who are going to take the morning-after pill. Breastfeeding women should not take the morning-after pill.

You should not use the morning-after pill when you are menstruating or on the days when your period is due to fall, or during contraceptive breaks.

In addition, it is good to avoid the pill in situations where it is simply not needed, such as if vaginal penetration has not occurred or if another contraceptive method has been used effectively.

How effective is the morning after pill?

The shorter the time between intercourse and taking the pill, the more effective it will be. In the first 24 hours after intercourse, the effectiveness is 95%. On the second day, up to 48 hours, it drops to 85%. On the third day, up to 72 hours after intercourse, the effectiveness drops to 58%.

From the third day on, there is no guarantee that it will work and you are in luck. There is a 15 to 20% chance that it will be effective between 72 and 120 hours (5 days) after intercourse, but that is not enough for it to be an effective method of contraception.

After the fifth day, the effectiveness is close to 0%.

Does the morning-after pill work in the fertile period?

Experts say that during the fertile period , the effectiveness of the morning-after pill is slightly less, as this is when the pregnancy is most favored.

During this period, the egg is released and goes to the fallopian tubes, so one of the pill’s effects, which prevents the egg from being released, is canceled. This is not to say that it will not work, but it is a little easier for it to fail.

Where to buy the morning after pill?

The morning-after pill can be found easily in pharmacies. It is also possible to get the medicine for free and without a prescription at SUS health centers, where a nurse can provide the pill to the woman and, even if she is a minor, the presence of the parents is not necessary.

Price: How much does the morning-after pill cost?

The prices of the morning-after pill can vary widely. Some of the pills can cost just over R $ 1 as is the case with Diad or Pilem. Postinor Uno can be found at prices ranging from R $ 18 to R $ 35.

You can also get access to the next day’s pills at health clinics free of charge.

Common questions

Is the pill abortive?

No . The morning-after pill does not prevent or hinder the development of an embryo that has already attached itself to the endometrium. In pregnant women, it is practically useless, serving only as a hormone pump that will bring about the unpleasant side effects of the drug.

Can I only take it the next day?

The morning after pill has a misleading name. It was not meant to be taken the next day, but as soon as possible after intercourse . The sooner you take it, the more effective it will be.

It can take effect up to five days after the relationship, but the chances will not be on your side in this case. Therefore, it is recommended to go after the morning-after pill right after your contraceptive method fails or you forget about it.

How long do I have to take the morning after pill after unprotected sex?

The faster the better. If you take 24 hours, the chances of it preventing pregnancy are up to 95%. However, with each passing day, the chances of the drug becoming less effective. After 5 days, the pill has no effect on preventing pregnancy and will not prevent it if fertilization has taken place.

How often is it possible to take the morning after pill?

Doctors recommend taking the pill at most once a year . It is considered an emergency contraceptive method and is only in those cases where it should be used.

Despite these indications, many women use it too often, some reaching three times in the same month , suffering the various side effects of repetition.

What to do if I throw up after taking the pill?

If you vomit shortly after taking the pill (up to 3 hours later), it is recommended to take another pill to ensure that your body will absorb the active ingredient. So, you can be sure that the medicine has not been regurgitated.

Does the morning-after pill cut the effect of contraceptives?

It is possible that birth control pills lose their effect during the days following the use of the morning-after pill.

This can happen because the hormone present in the emergency method is related to the regulation of the menstrual cycle and due to the high amount it can compromise the effect of the contraceptive.

It is recommended to use other contraceptive methods until the next menstruation.

I am already taking the birth control pill and I took the pill the next day. Should I continue my card from where I left off?

There is no consensus among doctors about the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill after using the morning-after pill, or if it causes a problem.

Some say that just follow the card, taking care to use a condom for the next seven days, but as a precaution, it may be better to wait for your next period.

After the next period is over, contraception can be resumed. In the meantime, avoid unprotected intercourse by using a condom or other methods to prevent pregnancy.

The morning after pill is fattening?

No , the morning-after pill, if used properly, does not make you fat. No study indicates this. However, if the person uses it too often, there is a possibility that the amount of hormones cause a change in weight, in addition to causing other damage to health.

Can the pill fail?

Yes , although the chances are extremely low. It is up to 95% effective, so it is difficult for it to fail (as long as you follow the instructions on the label). However, the chances of failure are greater if you take too long to take it after unprotected sex.

Other methods of emergency contraception

The morning-after pill is the most famous, but not the only contraceptive method that can be used in an emergency. Others are as follows:

Intra uterine device

Popularly called an IUD, the intrauterine device is a contraceptive method often used to prevent pregnancy in the long term, but it works as an emergency method, being more effective than the pill.

Since the fixation of the egg to the uterine wall can take 7 to 14 days, the IUD, if placed in time, can prevent this implantation from occurring.

The copper IUD prevents the egg from attaching to the uterine wall and hinders fertilization by weakening the sperm through the action of copper.

The hormonal IUD, or IUS, releases the same hormone as the morning-after pill, preventing the egg from being released and implanted in the uterus. The device is placed inside the uterus, and a gynecologist can place it or remove it.

Its contraceptive effect lasts up to ten years.

Five day pill

Like the morning-after pill, the five-day pill uses ulipristal acetate to prevent pregnancy, unlike the levonorgestrel used by the morning-after pill. Ulipristal acetate takes the place of progesterone in its receptors, preventing the hormone from taking effect, affecting ovulation and preventing pregnancy.

It takes effect up to five days after intercourse. As it is a new drug, starting to be commercialized in 2010, there are not many studies on its effects, and it is not yet sold in Brazil, but it serves as an emergency option in some countries. The trade name for the drug is EllaOne.

Other contraceptive methods

There are several contraceptive methods that can be used before or during sexual intercourse, which make the need to use the morning-after pill null and void. Here are some of them:


The easiest method of contraception is the condom, known as a condom. It is a physical barrier, made of latex, polyurethane or other materials, which is “worn” on the penis. The condom blocks the sperm, preventing it from entering the partner’s body. There is the female version, for internal use, which acts in the same way.

It is the only contraceptive method that also prevents the contamination of sexually transmitted diseases , in addition to being the only one without side effects . It must be used in all sexual relations and can be found in any pharmacy, in several options of brands, sizes and even flavors.

Oral contraceptive pill

The contraceptive pill is a daily medication that uses hormones to prevent the egg from being released. Although it does not offer protection against STDs and can bring some side effects such as nausea and mood swings, it is 97% effective, being one of the most efficient methods to prevent pregnancy.


The ligation or tubal ligation, is a voluntary sterilization surgery. In the procedure, the fallopian tubes are cut or tied, preventing the eggs from reaching the uterus.

In addition to the risks of any surgery, such as infections, it has the consequence of being definitive. Although there are exceptions, the tubal ligation cannot normally be reversed.

Even though it is a procedure offered by the Unified Health System (SUS), there are some legal needs for the woman to be able to perform this surgery: she must be over 18 years of age and two living children, or over 25 years old, regardless of having or not children.

It is necessary that there is a period of sixty days between the decision and the surgery, so that the woman has time to think about the matter, since it is a definitive surgery.

In addition, the law requires that, if the woman is married, there must be authorization from the spouse.


It can be called the male version of the sterilization, vasectomy is the sterilization of the man. The procedure makes a cut in the vas deferens, a channel that takes the sperm to the urethra.

Like the tubal ligation, vasectomy is difficult to reverse, so it is considered irreversible.

Also made available by SUS, vasectomy has the same requirements as sterilization: 18 years or more, with at least two children alive, or 25 years or more, regardless of the number of children, time to think about the consequences of the permanent procedure and authorization of the spouse, if any.

The morning-after pill is an effective method of contraception, but it should be used with care and only as an emergency measure. The contraceptive methods listed here are just a few of the available ones, which are diverse.