Even though we’re well into the 21st century, emergency contraception isn’t something that’s often openly discussed. In fact, in many ways it’s still surrounded by stigma and plenty of misconceptions.
However, today marks a positive step: women in Australia now have access to one more form of emergency contraception.
It’s a pill called EllaOne, and while it’s ideally taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse, it’s effective for up to five days afterwards.
This is two days longer than the levonorgestrel (or “morning after”) pill, which is currently the most common emergency contraceptive in Australia.
“We don’t want to it be known as the ‘five day pill’, because we don’t want people to put things off for that time. It’s best to take it as early as possible,” says Dr Deborah Bateson, Medical Director of Family Planning NSW.
EllaOne is now available in Australia. (Image: EllaOne)
"But it's another alternative, and we want women to know about it and speak to their doctors about it."
Like other emergency contraception, EllaOne works by delaying or preventing ovulation. However, it contains a new compound — a selective progesterone receptor modulator, to be more specific — called ulipristal acetate.
"EllaOne is able to stop ovulation from occurring even when the egg's just about to be released; in other words the luteinising hormone surge has already begun. So it's more effective at preventing ovulation," Dr Bateson explains.
In fact, comparative data has indicated EllaOne is three times more effective that the current levonorgestrel pill when taken within the first 24 hours of unprotected sex.
However, like any form of birth control, it isn't 100 per cent effective and can fail. Dr Bateson advises that if women have any concerns after taking it, like a delayed period, they should take a pregnancy test. (Post continues after gallery.)
Although EllaOne is available over the counter in some countries, including the UK, it won't be in Australia.