A new form of emergency contraception is now available in Australia. Ulipristal in tablet form may be taken up to five days after unprotected sex.

Known as EllaOne, it is a single tablet containing 30mg ulipristal acetate, a selective progesterone receptor modulator.

According to its distributors, studies have shown that ulipristal decreases the risk of pregnancy by almost three times compared with the current levonorgestrel pill, when taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, and by almost half when taken within 72 hours.

Dr Deborah Bateson, Medical Director of Family Planning NSW, recently stated “EllaOne is able to stop ovulation from occurring even when the egg is just about to be released. In other words, when the luteinising hormone surge has already begun. So it is more effective at preventing ovulation.”

Dr Bateson also said that prescribers needed to be aware of a few issues, including that breastfeeding women should not breastfeed for a week, but instead express and discard the milk.

Also it is not recommended for women with severe asthma, or those using steroids, and contraceptives containing progesterone (with the exception of Mirena IUD) should be avoided for five days.

EllaOne was approved for use in Australia last year by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. It is a prescription only medication and to date is not on the PBS.

Ultimately, Dr Bateson believes that EllaOne offers a “good new option” for emergency contraception, joining the levonorgestrel pill and the copper IUD (which is an effective form of emergency contraception if inserted within five days of unprotected sex).