Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/16/2020
The morning-after is a safe, effective way to significantly reduce your risk of becoming pregnant after you have unprotected sex, or if your regular method of birth control fails.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no limit on the number of times you can use the morning-after pill to prevent pregnancy. If you’re concerned about becoming pregnant, you can safely take the morning-after pill whenever you think it’s necessary without any worries.
However, you shouldn’t rely on the morning-after pill as a regular form of birth control, since it’s less effective and more likely to cause side effects than the birth control pill, patch or ring.
This applies whether you use the ella® morning-after pill or a levonorgestrel morning-after pill, such as Econtra® EZ or Plan B One-Step®.
Below, we’ve explained the basics of how the morning-after pill works, the potential side effects it can cause, as well as what you should know if you’re considering using the morning-after pill for the second or subsequent time.
Currently, there are two main types of morning-after pill on the market, both of which have high success rates at preventing pregnancy.
The first of these is ella®, which contains an ingredient called ulipristal acetate. Based on data from the World Health Organization, studies have shown that women who used emergency contraceptive with ulipristal acetate had a 98.8 percent rate of effectiveness. However, it’s recommended to take this pill within 120 hours of sexual activity.
It’s also worth noting that emergency contraception is most effective when taken as soon as possible after sexual activity.
The second type of morning-after pill is the levonorgestrel morning-after pill. You may have seen this type of morning-after pill sold under brand names such as Econtra® EZ, Plan B One-Step®, My Way® or Take Action®.
The levonorgestrel morning-after pill is also highly effective when it’s used correctly. According to WHO data, 97.9 to 98.8 percent of women who take this type of morning-after pill within 72 to 120 hours of having unprotected sex will not become pregnant.
Put simply, both types of morning-after pill are highly effective when used correctly. They’re also both very safe, with only mild short-term side effects and no long-term or serious side effects.
If you’re worried about becoming pregnant, it’s okay to use either type of morning-after pill.
You can use either type of morning-after pill whenever you feel it’s necessary. There’s no limit to how many times you can use the morning-after pill. There’s also no restriction on how often you can take either type of morning-after pill.
Simply put, if you’re concerned that you’re at risk of becoming pregnant, you can safely use the morning-after pill, regardless of how many times you’ve taken it before or the precise amount of time that’s passed since the last time you used it.
Using the morning-after pill more than once will not increase your risk of any long-term, serious side effects, nor will it affect your fertility or overall health.
If you use a levonorgestrel morning-after pill like Econtra® EZ or Plan B One-Step®, it’s totally okay to use the morning-after pill more than once per menstrual cycle.
Although the packaging for the ella® morning-after pill recommends against using it more than once per menstrual cycle, a 2016 study found that repeated short-term use of this type of pill is safe, although ovulation will usually occur over time.
However, WHO data also notes that frequent or repeated use of emergency contraception may potentially be harmful for women with Medical Eligibility Criteria (MEC) categories two, three or four for combined birth control, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.
It’s also worth noting that frequent use of emergency contraception may result in increased instances of side effects like menstrual irregularities, even if repeated use technically doesn’t indicate long-term serious health risks.
No. While it’s okay to use the morning-after pill more than once per menstrual cycle as a form of emergency contraception, you should not rely on the morning-after pill as a regular form of birth control.
This is because the morning-after pill isn’t as effective at preventing pregnancy as the combined or progestin-only birth control pill. In short, your risk of getting pregnant is higher if you only use the morning-after pill after having sex, instead of just taking a regular birth control pill.
Emergency contraceptives such as the morning-after pill are also more likely to lead to nausea, irregular period and other side effects than the regular birth control pill.
Using the morning-after pill more than once will not negatively affect your fertility or cause you to become infertile.
Both types of morning-after pill work by delaying the release of an egg, stopping the fertilization process or blocking the egg from implanting into the uterus. None of these processes have any effects on your long-term fertility or reproductive health.
Once the effects of the pill end, your chance of becoming pregnant will become the same as it was before you used the medication.
Taking more than one morning-after pill at the same time, or taking one morning-after pill then another the next day, will not make the medication more effective. In fact, it may make it less effective. Follow the instructions provided with the medication and do not exceed the recommended dose.
If you’ve recently had unprotected sex or your regular form of contraception failed and you’re concerned about becoming pregnant, either ella® or a levonorgestrel-based morning-after pill such as Econtra® EZ or Plan B One-Step® can help you reduce your risk of pregnancy.
Both types of morning-after pill are safe to use more than once. Contrary to popular belief, neither pill will have any negative effect on your ability to have children in the near or distant future.
However, you shouldn’t use either type of morning-after pill as a regular contraceptive. Instead, consider a more effective option such as the birth control pill, the patch or an alternative option such as the ring, shot, diaphragm or IUD.