Ulipristal acetate (EllaOne) is a “more effective” option than
the over-the-counter single-dose levonorgestrel pill that most
Australian women currently use as an emergency contraceptive
pill, Dr Helen Calabretto, director of sexual health clinic
SHine SA, told BuzzFeed News.
“The main difference is that [ulipristal acetate] can be taken
for up to five days after unprotected sex rather than three
days like the existing one, although, obviously, the
effectiveness decreases each day,” Calabretto, who completed a
PhD on emergency contraception, said.
The EllaOne product information also says it should be taken as
soon as possible after unprotected sex, as this is when it will
be most effective.
In good news for the estimated 200,000 Australian women who
experience unplanned pregnancies each year, the pill became
available on February 1.
It will start from $45 over the counter. This is more expensive
than the existing morning after pill, which can cost as little
as $20 in some Australian pharmacies.
“But women who are struggling to pay can go to Family Planning
clinics and if you have a great social disadvantage you can get
it for free,” Calabretto said.
Even if used correctly, no form of contraception is 100%
effective, and the morning after pill is women’s “last
contraceptive option to avoid unplanned pregnancy”, Philip
Goldstone, medical director of Marie Stopes International in
“Following unprotected sex, women should speak to their
pharmacist or doctor about options for preventing unplanned
pregnancy, and whether [ulipristal acetate] is a suitable
emergency contraceptive option.”