Ulipristal acetate emergency contraception now OTC

2 minute read

Australian women now have over-the-counter access to an improved emergency contraception


Australian women now have over-the-counter access to an emergency contraception which is effective for five days after unprotected sex.

Ulipristal acetate (EllaOne, MS Health) is already TGA approved, but previously required a prescription.

While it is not yet on the PBS, ulipristal acetate is considered the most effective emergency contraceptive and its rescheduling will improve access and choice for Australian women.

The single dose oral pill works by delaying or preventing ovulation, even when the egg is almost about to be released.

“In other words, when the luteinising hormone surge has already begun. So it is more effective at preventing ovulation,” Dr Deborah Bateson, Medical Director of Family Planning NSW, said.

A meta-analysis indicated that ulipristal acetate reduced the likelihood of pregnancy almost three times as much as levonorgestrel if taken in the first 24 hours after vaginal intercourse.

While it may be effective up to 120 hours, experts still recommend administering the pill as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse.

Women should not take the medication twice in one cycle, or with levonorgestrel, or continue taking hormonal contraception within five days of taking it.

The selective progesterone receptor modulator is less effective in obese women than those with a normal BMI, but is more effective than levonorgestrel.

Headache, nausea, abdominal pain and dysmenorrhea are the most common adverse effects, at similar rates to levonorgestrel.

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