Illistration of prescription-free birth control showing spermicide, calendar method, internal and external condoms and a phone showing the Natural Cycles logo
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5 Types of Birth Control Without a Prescription

Not all kinds of birth control require a trip to the doctor’s office. Today we’re going to take a look at the types of birth control you can get without a prescription. Whether it’s for convenience or a need to be discreet - there are many reasons to choose birth control without a prescription. Let’s take a closer look at the options available, how effective they are, and more…

While it can be handy to know how to get birth control without a doctor or a prescription, we want to point out that it’s always a good idea to talk to your healthcare professional before switching birth control methods so you can discuss your full range of options, and find a contraceptive that works best for you and your lifestyle. Now… let’s take a look at some of the available types of birth control without a prescription.

1. External condoms

Perhaps the most well-known type of birth control without prescription, external condoms (also known as male condoms) can be bought almost anywhere from grocery stores to public washrooms. You can also order condoms online for home delivery if you prefer to buy your birth control without even leaving the house!

With typical use effectiveness, condoms are 87% effective, and they’re 98% effective with perfect use. Condoms are a barrier birth control method, which means that as well as being great for preventing pregnancy, they are also useful for protecting against sexually transmitted infections.

2. Spermicide

When used on its own, spermicide is 79% effective with typical use and 84% effective with perfect use. While this might sound low compared to other methods, the great thing about spermicides is that it can be used alongside other types of birth control, like condoms or cervical caps, or diaphragms to boost the overall effectiveness.

Did you know that spermicide doesn’t actually kill sperm? Instead, it works by slowing down sperm cells, so it’s more difficult for them to reach the female egg cell.  Spermicide also works by blocking the entrance to the cervix. Spermicide must be inserted in the vagina at least ten minutes before intercourse and once inserted, it can offer protection for up to an hour. If you’re looking to get hold of this prescription-free method, spermicide is usually available in drugstores, supermarkets, and pharmacies in the same aisle where you’ll find the condoms.

3. Internal condoms

The lesser-known internal condom, also known as the female condom, is also a type of birth control available without a prescription. Typically internal condoms are a bit harder to get hold of, but the good news is you don’t need a trip to the doctor’s office in order to use them. Internal condoms can be found in some pharmacies and drugstores, plus you can also order them online.

In terms of effectiveness numbers, the internal condom is less effective than the more popular external version (79% effective with typical use and 84% effective when used perfectly). However, there are many reasons individuals may choose to use the internal condom, such as increased control for the wearer. 

One thing to remember when it comes to birth control is that while effectiveness can be a major factor, it’s also important to choose a method you can reliably use. Read about the difference between typical and perfect use effectiveness to find out more.

4. Fertility awareness

One of the oldest types of birth control out there, fertility awareness-based methods rely on individuals to become familiar with their own bodies and learn fertility indicators. These are certain signs connected to where you are in your cycle, such as the consistency of cervical mucus or changes in basal body temperature

There are also fertility awareness-based methods that are known as calendar methods. These methods rely on counting cycle days. However, these calendar methods assume a set cycle length of 28 days, and we know that in reality cycles tend to vary in length and regularity. With typical use effectiveness, the Standard Days method is 88% effective and 95% effective with perfect use.

5. Natural Cycles 

The first birth control app to be FDA cleared, Natural Cycles is certified birth control without a prescription. The app uses temperature data, to work out where you are in your cycle and whether or not you’re fertile that day. On fertile days you can choose to abstain from sex or use condoms to prevent pregnancy.

You can sign up for the first birth control app via our website, find Natural Cycles on Amazon, or find a subscription to the birth control app in-store in a selection of pharmacies and clinics. Natural Cycles is 93% effective with typical use and 98% effective with perfect use and can also be used to plan pregnancy if and when you want to start a family. 

Get to know your body better

Thanks for reading up on some of the available types of birth control without a prescription. At Natural Cycles we’re passionate about raising awareness of all birth control methods because there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to contraception. 

We’re proud to offer one more method and Natural Cycles is a great option for those looking for a hormone-free birth control that can help them learn more about their own cycle. As well as knowing your daily fertility status, you’ll also get useful updates such as PMS alerts and notifications on the best day to carry out a self-breast check. Why not find out if the world’s first birth control app could work for you?

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Written By

Jennifer Gray

Jennifer Gray is an award-winning writer with more than five years’ experience covering reproductive topics ranging from birth control to planning pregnancy. She is passionate about providing women with accurate information grounded in science they can use to take charge of their own health - while also dispelling myths that exist within the field of women’s health. She holds a Master of Science from the University of Edinburgh and currently lives in Ireland.

Jack in a suit and tie holding a microphone and giving a presentation.

Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

Dr. Jack Pearson is a previously HCPC registered Embryologist with a PhD in reproductive medicine. Prior to joining Natural Cycles leading Medical Affairs, he worked for more than 10 years in a clinical setting working at some of the busiest fertility clinics in the UK. Today he spends most of his time working with experts at the world’s leading institutions to carry out important research with the vision to further the field of female health. He earned his PhD from the University of Sheffield specializing in Sperm Metabolism and currently lives in London.

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