Article date: August 2014
A European review of available studies on the relationship between increasing body weight or BMI and efficacy of emergency contraceptives considered the data to be inconclusive. The overall conclusion was that emergency contraceptives are suitable for all women regardless of body weight or body mass index.
We remind you that emergency contraceptives do not prevent pregnancy in every instance. They should not be used to replace a regular contraceptive method. Levonorgestrel containing emergency contraceptives (eg, Levonelle) work best if taken within 12 hours of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure but can prevent pregnancy if taken up to 72 hours afterwards. Ulipristal containing contraceptives (eg, EllaOne) can prevent pregnancy if taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.
Advice for healthcare professionals
Advice to give to women
- Use an emergency contraceptive as soon as possible after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure regardless of your weight or BMI.
- Emergency contraceptives should not be used to replace a regular contraceptive method.
- If your period is late or you have irregular bleeding after using an emergency contraceptive, use a pregnancy test.
- Speak to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you have any concerns about emergency contraceptives.
Further information to give to women (76Kb)
Patient information leafletfor Levonelle One Step (‘over the counter’ emergency contraceptive pill)
Letter sent to healthcare professionals in July 2014
European Medicines Agency press release July 2014
Article citation: Drug Safety Update volume 8 issue 1, August 2014: A1