Emergency contraceptives continue to be suitable for all women who need them, regardless of the woman’s weight said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) today. These medicines may continue to be used to prevent unintended pregnancies and should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. This follows a European review that concluded that the benefits of emergency contraceptives continue to outweigh the risks in all women.

The European review looked at whether the effectiveness of Levonelle (containing levonorgestrel) and ellaOne (containing ulipristal acetate) was reduced with increased body weight. They concluded that based on the data available the benefits of using these emergency contraceptives remains positive and it cannot be concluded that body weight has an impact on the effectiveness of these medicines.

The results of the studies will be reflected in the UK product information for the emergency contraceptives Levonelle and ellaOne.

Deputy Director of Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines, Dr Sarah Branch said:

“Women should be reassured that regardless of their body weight, emergency contraceptives can still be used to prevent unintended pregnancy. Women should continue to take these products as early as possible after contraception failure or unprotected sexual intercourse.

“Emergency contraceptives are safe and effective medicines. However, they are not methods of long term contraception and they should not be used to replace regular contraceptive methods. If women have any questions they should speak to their doctor or pharmacist.

“If anyone has suffered any side-effects which they suspect may have been a result of using these products, or know anyone who has, please report it to us via our Yellow Card Scheme 



Posted on the UK MHRA website on 24 July 2014