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18th Oct 2021

Over 70% of our readers don’t understand how the morning after pill works, Her Sexual Experience Survey reveals

Brought to you by ellaOne 

It looks like there’s still some confusion around how the morning after pill actually works…

If there’s one thing we’re all for, it’s encouraging healthy conversations around sex, pleasure and all that good stuff.

You might remember that last year, we ran our hugely popular ‘Fact Not Fiction’ series with morning after pill brand ellaOne, encouraging everyone to see that pleasure is simply that – with no need for any guilt! We want to ditch the term ‘guilty pleasure’ and learn to enjoy and discuss pleasure for what it is.

That’s why, recently, we asked you to take our ‘What’s your pleasure? Her Sexual Experience Survey’. Almost 2,000 of you took our survey and the results are pretty interesting…

Our survey showed there is still some confusion about how the morning after pill works. Over 7 in 10 women (72%) aged 18-34 were unaware of how the morning after pill actually works. Over half of women surveyed aged 18-34 believe it prevents implantation of a fertilised egg, while 5% think it kills sperm and 2% think it has an abortive effect.


In reality, the morning after pill works by delaying ovulation, so there’s no egg present for sperm to fertilise. Our results showed that 28% of women in that same age group understood this correctly, and this understanding was higher among 18-24 year olds (33%) than those aged 25-34 (25%).

The morning after pill is more accessible than ever before, and our survey showed that Irish women are aware of this. Encouragingly, 91% of women surveyed understood you don’t need a prescription for the morning after pill, while 64% were aware it’s free for those who have a medical card.

When it comes to fact or fiction surrounding the morning after pill, there were some really positive results. When presented with the statement ‘you can only take the morning after pill 3 times in your lifetime‘, 91% knew that was untrue.

ellaOne can be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) after having unprotected sex or your contraceptive fails, something 63% of those surveyed understood. However, it’s important to remember you should use emergency contraception as soon as possible, and any alternative emergency contraceptive pills should be taken within 3 days (72 hours).

morning after pill

Speaking about the increased awareness of the facts around the morning after pill, Sex & Relationship Expert Dr Caroline West said: “It’s encouraging to see women armed with better knowledge around the morning after pill, its accessibility and how it works. It’s important young women are aware of the facts for themselves and don’t rely on myth and fiction for information.

“It’s great to keep this conversation going and empower women to look after their sexual health by ensuring they have factually correct information easily available to them.”

As always, you can continue to #SharetheFacts on emergency contraception by visiting for more information.

ellaOne is an emergency contraceptive pill that is available from pharmacies, and online through pharmacy Click & Collect services, without a prescription. No other morning after pill is more effective at preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex.

ellaOne consists of one film-coated tablet which should be taken as soon as possible, but no later than 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Each film-coated tablet of ellaOne contains 30 mg ulipristal acetate. Always read the label.

This research among 1,940 women in Ireland was conducted by Empathy Research on behalf of morning after pill brand, ellaOne in March 2021.

Brought to you by ellaOne