Which birth control is best for me?

All our preferences are different, and when it comes to choosing birth control, it’s no exception. The best birth control is the method that will work best for you, your body, and your lifestyle. And these may change over time, so it's okay for your birth control to change too. This guide will help you learn about different contraceptive options available so you can find the best option for you...

Illustration showing a range of birth control methods: the calendar method, IUDs, condoms, pills, implants and Natural Cycles

Choosing a birth control method is a big deal, and it's important to remember that no form of birth control is 100% effective. What works for your friends might not be the best method for you, so if you have any questions we always recommend talking to a healthcare professional.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the different preferences you might have when it comes to finding the right birth control for you!

I want a birth control that’s highly effective and doesn’t need much work

If you want to prevent pregnancy for a number of years, then it’s worth considering a long term birth control option. There are three available: the copper IUD, the hormonal IUD, and the implant. IUD is short for intrauterine device, as these are tiny devices inserted into the uterus. The implant typically goes under the skin in the fleshy upper arm.

Regardless of where they go, each of these long-acting methods must be fitted and removed by a healthcare professional. However, once in place, they are more than >99% effective at preventing pregnancy. 

I want a birth control that will protect me from STIs

Our sexual wellbeing goes beyond choosing a contraceptive, and for some, preventing sexually transmitted infections is the top priority. In this instance, it’s good to use a barrier method such as condoms. Not only do they stop the sperm and egg cell from meeting, but they also prevent the transmission of STIs and can be used with other forms of birth control as well. 

There are two types of condom: the more common male condom that is worn on the penis, and the female condom that is worn inside the vagina. With typical use male condoms are 87% effective at preventing pregnancy, and female condoms are 79% effective.

I want a birth control that doesn’t contain hormones

Experiencing unwanted birth control side effects is a reality for some while using hormonal methods. This is one motivation to switch to a natural method, but there are other reasons to go hormone-free too, such as lifestyle and diet changes. 

There are a few non-hormonal birth control methods out there, including condoms, the copper IUD, and Natural Cycles, the world’s first birth control app. Natural Cycles is 93% effective with typical use. There are several other types of natural family planning available too, but these potentially have lower birth control effectiveness as they require a lot of work and in some cases special training to use.

I want a birth control that’s discreet

While we are passionate about ending the stigma around talking about birth control, we understand that everyone’s situation is different and there are reasons you might want or need to keep your birth control method to yourself. 

Obtaining, storing, or taking birth control can be difficult if you’re trying to keep it completely private. How you choose to be discreet is personal to your situation, you may manage to take pills daily, or might prefer to get an IUD or implant fitted. The birth control shot is also a discreet option, and only needs to be given every three months if you’re able to pay a visit to your healthcare professional. 

I want a birth control that’s easy to get hold of

For many, convenience is a big factor in choosing a birth control method. There are a couple of over-the-counter birth control options available. Without a prescription, you can easily get hold of condoms and you can also buy a subscription to Natural Cycles in-store or online.

In the UK you can now ask for mini pills over-the-counter in your local pharmacy too. There are also products like spermicide that can be used alongside other birth control methods to reduce the risk of pregnancy.

I want a birth control that’s free

If you’re in the US, most insurance plans cover a variety of methods. In the UK most birth control methods are also covered by the NHS. Condoms are often available for free at sexual health clinics or at your gynecologist’s office. 

Since Natural Cycles is available over-the-counter, it’s not currently available through insurance, but keep in mind that you can use your FSA or HSA to purchase Natural Cycles.

I want a birth control that will reduce or stop my periods

If you have very heavy or painful periods, you might consider managing these through your birth control. Hormonal birth control works by stopping ovulation, and this has an effect on your periods.

Birth control options containing estrogen usually involve a short, regular withdrawal bleed (this is a bit different to a period). These options include the NuvaRing, patch, and combined birth control pills. If you choose a progesterone-only method such as the mini pill, implant, injection or hormonal IUD, you may experience very light spotting or no bleeding whatsoever.

I want a birth control I can build into my routine

While some birth control methods do require daily work, this can be easier to manage once it becomes a habit. For some, taking birth control pills is easy to make a habit since you need to take them at the same time each day, and you can combine this with your existing routine (such as taking a pill before bed or when you’re having breakfast). 

Natural Cycles also requires routine, as you need to take your temperature most mornings when you wake up. Unlike the pill - the app is still effective if you skip days - but in order to get to know your unique cycle, we recommend measuring around five days a week.

I want emergency birth control

If you’ve had unprotected sex and are worried you may be pregnant. You can take emergency birth control. While the sooner you take action the better, emergency birth control can work for up to five days after unprotected sex. 

There are two options available: Plan B (also known as the morning-after pill) and the copper IUD. As well as acting as emergency birth control, once fitted, the copper IUD can prevent pregnancy for up to ten years. Depending on where you live, you can get emergency birth control at your local pharmacy or through your doctor or gynecologist.

I want a birth control option that will help me have kids soon

If you’re looking to start a family in the near future, then you probably don’t want to opt for a long-acting option, as you’ll need to get it removed sooner rather than later. While in theory you can stop taking hormonal methods and get pregnant quickly, for some people it can take time for the hormones to completely leave their system.

If you switch to Natural Cycles, you can transition off hormonal birth control before you want to try for a baby, use the app to prevent pregnancy, and when you’re ready switch to planning a pregnancy with Natural Cycles. Another advantage of this is you’ll already know your fertile window - meaning you know the best days to try and conceive. Our study found that the majority of women who had previously used Natural Cycles to prevent pregnancy, got pregnant in three cycles or less when they started planning pregnancy.

Find out if Natural Cycles is right for you

We hope this guide has got you closer to answering the question: ‘which birth control is best for me?’ If you’d like to know more about Natural Cycles and whether it could work for you, why not take our quiz to find out more?

Natural Cycles works out your fertility based on basal body temperature, but unlike traditional family planning, it doesn’t require any manual charting. Instead, you enter your temperature data into the app and our algorithm calculates your fertility. Find out how it works, or sign up today!

Ready to get started?

Jen on the roof terrace at Natural Cycles headquarters.

Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

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

Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

With 10 years of experience working in the field of fertility, Jack Pearson is Natural Cycles’ in-house expert. As Medical Affairs Manager, he dedicates his time to conducting groundbreaking research and educating healthcare professionals.

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