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Ella and Pregnancy

The FDA classifies ella (ulipristal) as a pregnancy Category X medication, which means it is not safe for pregnant women to intentionally use this medication. The active ingredient in the drug was shown to cause miscarriages in studies of pregnant animals. If your period is more than a week late after taking this drug, you may want to take a pregnancy test and contact your healthcare provider.

Can Pregnant Women Take Ella?

ella® (ulipristal acetate) is a prescription emergency contraceptive (a "morning after pill"). It is approved to prevent pregnancy when used within 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex or birth control failure. As with all hormonal contraceptives, ella should not be used intentionally during pregnancy.
Because ella blocks the effects of progesterone (and because progesterone is necessary for a developing pregnancy), it is possible for it to disrupt an established pregnancy. This is different than the other emergency contraceptive pills (like Plan B®), which contain high doses of progesterone-like hormones (which will not disrupt an established pregnancy).

What Is Pregnancy Category X?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category X is given to medications that should not be used during pregnancy (such as ella). Often, this is due to problems such as miscarriages or birth defects.
ella is similar to RU-486, the so-called "abortion pill." ella has not been adequately studied in pregnant humans. At least theoretically, ella could potentially cause miscarriages, based on the results of studies in rats, rabbits, and monkeys.
Pregnant rats and rabbits were given daily doses of ulipristal acetate, equivalent to one-third or one-half of the usual human dose, for 12 or 13 days. During that time, all of the rats miscarried all of their fetuses while half of the rabbits miscarried all of their fetuses. However, there were no birth defects in the offspring that survived.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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