Women Home > Ella Warnings and Precautions

Before you take ella, make sure you are aware of potential problems that this emergency contraceptive might cause, such as a possible risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy and potential drug interactions. ella's warnings and precautions also apply to women who have certain allergies or who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking ella® (ulipristal acetate) if you:
  • Are pregnant or suspect that you could be pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Have any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Precautions and Warnings With Ella

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking this contraceptive include the following:
  • The medication is not meant to be your main form of birth control. It is significantly less effective (and significantly more expensive) than many other forms of birth control.
  • Unlike other forms of emergency contraception, ella is similar to RU-486, the so-called "abortion pill." At least theoretically, ella could potentially cause miscarriages, based on the results of animal studies.

Because ella blocks the effects of progesterone (and because progesterone is absolutely necessary for a developing pregnancy), it is possible for ella to disrupt an established pregnancy. This is much different from the other emergency contraceptive pills (like Plan B®), which contain high doses of progesterone-like hormones (which will not disrupt an established pregnancy).

  • Your period may be different after taking ella. Some women may experience their period earlier or later than expected by a few days. Women taking ella in clinical trials experienced an increase in cycle length by an average of 2.5 days. Some women may also experience spotting (light vaginal bleeding) a few days after taking it.
  • If your period is more than a week late, you should contact your healthcare provider and consider taking a pregnancy test to make sure you are not pregnant. ella, like other emergency contraceptives, is not 100 percent effective.
  • Fertility usually returns to normal rather quickly after taking ella. Although the drug can help prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse, it will not prevent a future pregnancy, unless you take it again after unprotected sex.
  • Because ella blocks the effects of progesterone, it theoretically could decrease the effectiveness of routine birth control pills. After using ella, a barrier method of contraception (like a condom) should be used with any other sexual intercourse that occurs during that same menstrual cycle.
  • If you develop severe lower abdominal pain (stomach pain), especially if your period is late, tell your healthcare provider immediately. He or she may want you to have an examination, as there is a risk of having an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus, including a "tubal" pregnancy). However, if you have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past, this does not mean that you cannot take ella.
  • ella may interact with other medications (see Ella Drug Interactions).
  • ella is considered a pregnancy Category X medication. This means that it should not be used during pregnancy (see Ella and Pregnancy).
  • It is unknown if ella passes through breast milk. However, animal studies have suggested that ulipristal acetate could theoretically pass into human milk. It is not recommended to use ella if you are breastfeeding (see Ella and Breastfeeding).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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