On Friday, August 16th, the FDA approved ‘Ella’ (Ulipristal Acetate) manufactured by the drug company Watson Pharmaceuticals to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Ella works by using progesterone to inhibit or delay ovulation from your ovaries for up to five days after intercourse. Here are some facts on this emergency pregnancy prevention method.
How should Ella be used effectively?: It is only available by prescription and needs to be taken within five days of having unprotected sex. The most effective use is the day after intercourse. There is still a 1.85 chance of getting pregnant and the longer to wait to take the drug, the greater the possibility to get pregnant.
What are the side effects of this drug? It is new. It has only been available in Europe since May of 2009. They do not know the long term effects of this drug because it has not been out on the marketplace long enough. Here are the known side effects at this time: nausea, stomach pain, headaches, menstrual complaints, tiredness, and dizziness. Again, they do not know the long term effects from this drug.
Are there any alternatives to Ella? Yes, the drug, Levonorgestrel, has been available for a long time. Many physicians feel the older drug is safer, cheaper, and more time tested. The side effects for this drug are the same as for the new one, Ella. It is a little less effective than Ella according to the research. If you vomit within two hours after taking the drug, you should call your doctor. You can be allergic to either drug. I would say that since the drug has been out longer, that its long term effects are more substantiated.
Other Considerations: Neither of these two drugs is meant to be used on a regular basis for birth control. Unprotected sex leaves you open to HIV, Herpes, gonorrhea, and all other STD infections. These drugs will not protect you from any sexually transmitted disease. Neither drug is 100 per cent effective to stop pregnancy. The only way you know if the drug was effective is with a pregnancy test later or with the onset of your regular period.