What contraceptives are available to women?

Whether you’re looking for hormonal types of protection or barrier methods, there are plenty of contraceptives for women to choose from. Each offers their own levels of effectiveness and each with their advantages and disadvantages. Read our guide to find out more about the different types and how they work.

Birth control pills

One of the most common forms of contraception, there are a variety of birth control pills to suit your individual needs and body.

Intrauterine device (IUD)

The IUD uses copper to prevent you from getting pregnant and sits inside your uterus.


Great for those who forget to take pills, the implant sits under the skin in your upper arm and releasing hormones into your body. Nexplanon is the implant that is used in the UK to prevent pregnancy.

Birth control patch

This contraceptive comes as a patch that sticks to your skin and releases hormones to stop you from getting pregnant. It’s ideal for those who don’t like the sound of injections or the implant and still allows you to have a period.

Mini pill

Part of the oral contraceptives group, the mini pill is a progestogen-only pill which stops you getting pregnant. It’s suitable for women who can’t have the hormone oestrogen.

Contraceptive injection

Administered as an injection, this contraceptive releases the hormone progestogen into your blood. This helps to prevent pregnancy and is ideal for those who often forget to take pills.


Another barrier method of contraception, the diaphragm sits inside your vagina and stops sperm from reaching an egg. Find out how you use this contraceptive and how effective the diaphragm is here.


Usually used with a diaphragm, spermicide stops sperm from reaching an egg. Available in different gels, creams and foams, spermicide is an effective method of contraception on its own but works better when teamed with other methods.

Female condoms

Specially designed for women, female condoms are a barrier method of contraception that is worn inside the vagina. They prevent you from getting pregnant by stopping the sperm reaching an egg and fertilizing it.

Natural contraception

If you don’t want to use hormonal forms of contraceptive, natural methods could be for you. Tracking your menstrual cycle, knowing when you’re ovulating and most fertile are ways that you can avoid getting pregnant or on the other hand make your chances of getting pregnant more likely.

Can you get pregnant while taking birth control pills?

Yes, no form of contraception is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy, however if used correctly then the likelihood of you getting pregnant is very small. You can always talk to your GP or sexual health nurse about the contraception you are taking, and whether another kind would be more suitable or effective.