Medication Search: Ella

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Common Name:

ulipristal (emergency contraception)


How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Ulipristal belongs to the class of medications called selective progesterone receptor modulators. It works by disrupting the way the hormone progesterone works in the body.

It is used as an emergency contraceptive, when it is taken within 120 hours (5 days) of having unprotected sexual intercourse, or it is believed that a contraceptive has failed.

This medication is believed to prevent pregnancy by preventing or delaying ovulation, depending on the stage of the woman’s menstrual cycle. It may also prevent implantation of the egg by altering the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus). It is important to realize that once implantation has occurred and pregnancy is established, ulipristal cannot cause an abortion or harm the fetus. No serious complications have been reported with this medication.

This medication is intended for use only by women whose regular birth control methods have failed or who may have had intercourse without birth control. It is not a substitute for correct use of regular birth control.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.  

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each white-to-marble-cream, round, curved tablet marked with "ella" on both sides, contains 30 mg of ulipristal acetate. Nonmedicinal ingredients: lactose monohydrate, povidone K-30, croscarmellose sodium, and magnesium stearate.

How should I use this medication?

The recommended dose of ulipristal is one 30 mg tablet taken as soon as possible within 5 days after unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure.

Because this medication is often associated with nausea, your doctor may also want you to take medication to prevent nausea at the same time you take ulipristal. If you vomit within three hours of taking ulipristal, contact your doctor immediately, as you will need to take a second tablet. This medication can be used at any time during the menstrual cycle. It can be taken with or without food. Taking it with food may help reduce nausea.

Most women have their expected menstrual period within 7 days of their normal time after using this medication. If you don’t have your menstrual period within 7 days of when it is expected, you should have a pregnancy test done.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to ulipristal or any ingredients of the medication
  • are, or may be pregnant

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • acne
  • back pain
  • breast tenderness
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • menstrual pain
  • muscle pain
  • mood changes
  • nausea
  • pelvic pain
  • stomach pain or discomfort
  • vomiting

Although most of the side effects listed below don’t happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • vomiting within 3 hours of taking the medication

Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of a serious allergic reaction (e.g., abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, or swelling of the face and throat)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Ulipristal may affect the mental or physical abilities needed to drive or operate machinery by causing drowsiness, dizziness, or temporarily blurred vision. Avoid driving or performing other potentially hazardous tasks until you have determined how you are affected by this medication.

Galactose intolerance/glucose malabsorption: Ulipristal tablets are prepared with lactose. If you have lactose or galactose intolerance you should not take these medications.

Kidney and liver function: The safety and effectiveness of taking ulipristal if you have decreased kidney or liver function have not been studied. If you have decreased kidney or liver function, or kidney or liver disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Other contraceptives: After this medication is used, a reliable barrier method (e.g., male or female condom, diaphragm) should be used during intercourse within that same menstrual cycle. Other hormonal contraceptives may also be used no earlier than 5 days after taking ulipristal as long as a reliable barrier method is being used until the next menstrual period. If ulipristal was taken because your regular hormonal contraceptive was ineffective, discuss with your doctor before restarting it.

Sexually transmitted infections: This medication does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV or AIDS. For protection against these infections, latex condoms should be used.

Pregnancy: This medication will not interrupt a pregnancy that is already established. It is not intended for use during pregnancy.

Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are breast-feeding and taking ulipristal, it may affect your baby. It is recommended that breast-feeding be stopped for 1 week after taking this medication. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: This medication is not intended to be used by girls who have not yet had their first menstrual period. The safety and effectiveness of using this medication for women less than 18 years of age have not been established. 

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between ulipristal and any of the following:

  • apalutamide
  • aprepitant
  • "azole" antifungals (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole)
  • bosentan
  • calcium channel blockers (e.g., diltiazem, verapamil)
  • cobicistat
  • conivaptan
  • dabigatran
  • digoxin
  • dronedarone
  • enzalutamide
  • grapefruit juice
  • HIV non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs; e.g., efavirenz, etravirine, nevirapine)
  • HIV protease inhibitors (e.g., atazanavir, darunavir, lopinavir, ritonavir)
  • hormonal birth control (e.g., pills, patch, or ring)
  • letermovir
  • leuprolide
  • lumacaftor and ivacaftor
  • macrolide antibiotics (e.g., clarithromycin, erythromycin)
  • modafinil
  • mifepristone
  • mitotane
  • modafinil
  • progestins (e.g., dienogest, levonorgestrel, medroxyprogesterone, norethindrone)
  • protein kinase inhibitors (e.g., crizotinib, dabrafenib, imatinib, nilotinib)
  • proton pump inhibitors (e.g., esomeprazole, lansoprazole, omeprazole)
  • rifabutin
  • rifampin
  • seizure medications (e.g., carbamazepine, phenytoin, primidone, topiramate)
  • St. John’s wort

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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Last Updated: 12/07/2024