What is Ella?
Ella, short for EllaOne, was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as a five-day contraceptive, meaning that it is effective for up to five days after having unprotected sex. It was previously approved for use in 44 countries, including European countries, in early 2009. It is said to be as twice as effective as the currently existing emergency contraceptive drug, Plan B, which is only effective for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.
Created by Dr. Christiane Northrup, the controversial drug Ella is made up of a chemical called ulipristal acetate. This is the same chemical found in RU 486, the abortion pill, but it is not intended for use as a means to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, not is it meant for use as a regular form of contraception.
A clinical study including 5,000 women from the United States and Europe showed that “no deaths occurred and no unexpected adverse outcomes were observed in the clinical development program.” Side effects included common adverse reactions such as headache, nausea, and painful menstruation. Other clinical trials, including both Ella and Plan B, showed that twice as many pregnancies were prevented with the use of Ella than with the use of Plan B.
How Does Ella Work?
There have been arguments about how Ella works. Some say that it actually aborts a tiny fetus, while others say that it prevents ovulation from occurring. Ovulation is the process by which a single, mature egg is dropped from the ovarian follicle. This is egg, being mature, is ready to be fertilized. Because of how quickly fertilization occurs and how long Ella is effectively available for use, there is controversy over whether this drug is preventing pregnancy or actually terminating one. It is effective for up to five days after unprotected sex. By day 7 of a pregnancy (the fifth day after sex), the fertilized egg is already attaching itself to the wall of the uterus.
Although it is unclear whether Ella blocks ovulation, prevents pregnancy, or terminates an early pregnancy, studies have shown that it does block progesterone. Progesterone, known as the female sex hormone, is a chemical in the body that is necessary during pregnancy. It promotes the growth and development of the embryo and fetus.
“New Emergency Contraceptive ‘Ella’ Safe, Effective, FDA Experts Say.”
The New Mexico Independent. 06/16/10. Web. Accessed 08/25/10.
“FDA Approves Ella as 5-Day-After Emergency Contraceptive.”
The Washington Post. 08/14/10. Web. Accessed 08/25/10.
“New Contraceptive ‘Ella’ Awaits FDA Approval”
Top News United Kingdom. 06/14/10 Web. Accessed 08/25/10.