Women have another tool in the emergency contraception (EC) toolbox, and it’s called ella (yes, it’s spelled with a lower case “e”). Ella is a pill (ulipristal acetate) that can be taken at any time in the 5 days after unprotected intercourse. It is equally effective whether it is taken 4 hours or 4 days after sex. It works by preventing ovulation during those 5 days. This does not mean you are safe for the rest of your cycle until you get your period – you still should use a barrier such as condoms until your period comes.
In clinical trials ella reduced the risk of pregnancy from an expected 5.5% without EC to 2.2%. This makes it more effective than other oral forms of EC (the copper IUD is still the most effective form of EC). You do need a prescription to get ella at the pharmacy. And because it is still relatively new, not all pharmacies carry it. They may need to order it for you. If you are an established patient with us, we are happy to call it in for you. Ella may be more expensive than other oral forms of EC, but if you have insurance or DSHS it may be covered.
If you are using a barrier method as your primary form of contraception, we recommend keeping EC on hand at home. Accidents do happen. If they happen a lot, let’s see you for a discussion about other methods.
Susannah Herrmann, ARNP