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What is the difference between the ‘morning after pill’ and the abortion pill?

1 June 2021 Blog

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    The ‘morning after pill’ is not the same as the 'abortion pill'. The main difference is that the morning after pill prevents a pregnancy, which is why it does not cause an abortion.


    What is the difference between the ‘morning after pill’ and the abortion pill?

    The ‘morning after pill’ is an emergency contraceptive: though often called the morning after pill, it can actually be taken up to 96 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex to prevent a pregnancy. It is a progesterone-only hormone pill and works by delaying the release of an egg from an ovary, therefore preventing pregnancy. There is just one pill to take. The sooner you take the morning after pill, the greater the chances of avoiding pregnancy.

    A medical abortion (or “abortion pill” as it sometimes called) involves taking two different types of medicine - mifepristone and misoprostol - at different times, to end an existing pregnancy. At Marie Stopes UK you can use this method of abortion up to 9 weeks + 6 days of pregnancy.

    • The ‘morning after pill’ is an emergency contraceptive: there is just one pill to take.
    • The abortion pill ends a pregnancy: there are two different types of medicine to take at different times.


    What is the most effective form of emergency contraception method?

    There are 3 types of emergency contraception:

    • the emergency contraceptive pill Levonorgestrel (LNG), also known as Levonelle: it can be taken within 96 hours (four days) of unprotected sex, however it is most effective within the first 72 hours (three days).
    • the emergency contraceptive pill Ulipristal Acetate (UPA) also known as Ellaone: this can be taken within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected sex.
    • the intrauterine device (IUD or coil): this is the most effective emergency contraception and can be fitted up to 120 hours or 5 days after unprotected sex. A copper coil is a small, T-shaped copper device that is placed in a woman's womb and can provide contraceptive protection for up to ten years. One of the benefits of using the IUD is that, once fitted, you can then choose to continue to use it as your on-going form of contraception. Long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods offer excellent protection against pregnancy, ranging from three months up to ten years. They're ideal if you know that you do not want to have children for a while.

    Where can I get emergency contraception?

    You can get emergency contraception for free from:

    • GPs
    • NHS walk-in centres
    • Brook services (for under 25s)
    • Sexual health clinics
    • Pharmacies
    • Some Hospital A&E Departments

    To know more about the difference between emergency contraception and abortion pill

    You can read more about emergency contraception at this link.

    You will find useful information about:

    • What is the “morning after pill”?
    • Emergency contraception methods
    • Calculator: When did you have unprotected sex?
    • How the IUD works as emergency contraception
    • Do I have to pay for the morning after pill?


    Get in touch to know more

    It is important to know that MSI Reproductive Choices UK does NOT provide emergency contraception. As part of your abortion treatment, we'll help you find a method of contraception that best suits your individual needs.


    You can always contact us if you have any doubt or would like to ask any questions:

    • England, Scotland and Wales: 0345 300 8090
    • Northern Ireland: 0333 234 2184
    • Ireland: 1 800 200 374
    • International: +44 (0) 1454 457 542

    We are here for you. Contact us.

    You can also use facebook messenger to contact us via social media: MSI Reproductive Choices UK facebook page.

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