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Contraception health centre

Side effects of the emergency contraceptive pill

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Taking the emergency contraceptive pill has not been shown to cause any serious or long-term health problems. However, it can sometimes have side effects.

Common side effects include:

  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • headache
  • irregular menstrual bleeding (spotting or heavy bleeding) before your next period is due
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • tiredness

Less common side effects include:

  • breast tenderness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • vomiting - seek medical advice if you vomit within three hours of taking the emergency contraceptive pill

Any side effects will normally pass quickly. If you vomit within 3 hours of taking ellaOne or 2 hours of taking Levonelle, you will need to take a repeat dose or have an IUD fitted.

When to see a doctor or nurse

If you are concerned about any symptoms after taking the emergency contraceptive pill, contact your GP or speak to a nurse at a sexual health clinic.

You should talk to a doctor or nurse if:

  • you think you might be pregnant
  • your next period is more than seven days late
  • your period is shorter or lighter than usual
  • you have any sudden or unusual pain in your lower abdomen (tummy)
Medical Review: July 03, 2012

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