What is Levonelle?
Levonelle is a hormonal contraceptive pill (active ingredient 1,500mg levonorgestrel) that may be prescribed as a form of emergency contraception. A single Levonelle tablet may offer protection against pregnancy up to 72 hours or three days after having unprotected sex. The sooner you take a pill after sex, the more likely it is to prevent conception. If taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, Levonelle may be up to 95% effective. Levonelle will not provide protection against pregnancy if you have sex after taking the pill.
Levonelle is not an ‘abortion pill’. It works to prevent pregnancy from occurring, but cannot terminate a pregnancy.
What is the active ingredient of Levonelle?
The active ingredient of Levonelle is a 1,500mg dose of a synthetic progesterone hormone called levonorgestrel. The artificial hormone mimics the actions of the natural progesterone that is produced in your ovaries. It is believed to temporarily prevent ovulation, thus avoiding pregnancy.
How does Levonelle work?
When you swallow a Levonelle tablet, it releases 1,500mg of the synthetic hormone levonorgestrel into your bloodstream. Levonorgestrel replicates the action of the natural bodily hormone progesterone and is believed to temporarily prevent the release of an egg (ovulation). This in turn protects you from pregnancy.
If Levonelle is taken less than 24 hours after you had unprotected sex, it may be up to 95% effective. You may take Levonelle up to 72 hours or three days after unprotected sex, but the level of protection may be lower. You should only take a single tablet during the three day ‘window of protection’ after unsafe sex. Increasing the dosage will not improve your chances of avoiding pregnancy, but may increase your chances of suffering unwelcome side effects.
Who can take Levonelle?
Our online GPs are usually willing to consider prescribing Levonelle to healthy women over the age of 18, but there are some health restrictions that may prevent you from obtaining a prescription. If this is the case, you may be recommended ellaOne as an alternative. It is important to mention all relevant medical conditions when you complete the short online health questionnaire.
If any of the following apply, you may be unable to use Levonelle:
- You are currently breastfeeding. Levonelle is passed into breast milk and will be absorbed by your baby.
- You are allergic to the active ingredient levonorgestrel, or any of the minor ingredients in Levonelle.
- You have any history of ectopic pregnancies.
What doses of Levonelle are available?
Levonelle is a morning after pill (emergency contraceptive pill) and is prescribed as a one-time treatment. Women who have already had unprotected sex and want to avoid pregnancy, take a single 1,500mg tablet. Levonelle should be taken no later than 72 hours after unsafe sex.
Dosage: 1x tablet containing 1,500mg of synthetic progesterone hormone levonorgestrel.
Window of protection: Up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex has occured. If take less than 24 hours after sex, Levonelle may provide up to 95% protection against pregnancy.
You should only take one Levonelle tablet during the three-day window of protection. Increasing the dosage will not offer additional protection against pregnancy and will increase your risk of suffering unwelcome side effects.
How do I take Levonelle?
Swallow a single Levonelle tablet with a glass of water, no later than 72 hours (three days) after having unprotected sex. Do not take any additional Levonelle tablets or any other form of hormonal contraceptive unless instructed to do so by our online GP.
If you suffer from vomiting or diarrhoea within 3 hours of taking Levonelle, you should seek immediate medical advice as you may need to take a replacement pill.
Can I take Levonelle and drink alcohol?
Our GPs generally do not recommend drinking alcohol while using any prescription medicine, but drinking alcohol is not known to reduce the effectiveness of Levonelle or produce any side effects.
What are the side effects of Levonelle?
Your Levonelle tablets will come with a patient leaflet giving detailed information about the medication, its ingredients, possible side effects, and contraindications. Please read this leaflet carefully before you take any tablets. Keep the leaflet with the medication for future reference.
If you use Levonelle tablets exactly as directed by our online GP, you are unlikely to experience any significant unwelcome side effects. A small minority of patients may experience some minor side effects. Because Levonelle is a one-time single dosage pill, any unwelcome side effects are likely to be of limited duration.
Very common (may affect more than 10% of users):
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- Irregular vaginal bleeding until your next period
- Lower abdominal pain
Common (may affect up to 10% of users):
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea. If you vomit or have diarrhoea within 3 hours of taking a Levonelle pill, you should contact our online GP immediately, as you may need a replacement tablet.
- Changes to your period. Most women will have a normal period at the expected time, but some may have their period later or earlier than normal. You might also have some irregular bleeding or spotting until your next period. If your period is more than 5 days late or is unusually light or unusually heavy, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
- Breast tenderness
Very rare (may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people):
- Swelling of the face
- Pelvic pain
- Painful period
If you experience serious discomfort we recommend that you go straight to your nearest casualty department. In an emergency dial 999.
When not to take Levonelle?
It is important that you mention all relevant medical conditions, as well as any medications that you are taking, when you complete the short online health questionnaire. If you cannot take Levonelle, our duty GP may recommend ellaOne as an alternative form of emergency contraception. If any of the following apply, we may not be able to offer you a prescription for Levonelle:
- You are already pregnant or think that you might be pregnant.
- You have a disease of your small bowel (such as Crohn’s disease) that inhibits the absorption of the drug.
- You have severe liver problems.
- You have a history of ectopic pregnancy (where the baby develops somewhere outside the womb).
- You have a history of salpingitis (inflammation of the Fallopian tubes).
Medications and Treatments
- Barbiturates and other medicines used to treat epilepsy (for example primidone, phenytoin, and carbamazepine)
- Medicines used to treat tuberculosis (for example, rifampicin, rifabutin)
- Treatment for HIV (ritonavir, efavirenz) - a medicine used to treat fungal infections (griseofulvin)
- Herbal remedies containing St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum).
The Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet included in the pack with a medicine. It is written for patients and gives information about taking or using a medicine. It is possible that the leaflet in your medicine pack may differ from the PDF-version from this website because it may have been updated since your medicine was packaged or the medicine is from another brand.