Combined pill vs Fertility awareness methods (FAM)

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Combined pill

£From £0.16/day

Fertility awareness methods (FAM)

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Overview

Rated 2.8

2342 reviews

Daily

Frequency

91% - 99+%

Effectiveness

Increased

Blood clot risk

None

Effect on fertility

Rated 4.3

146 reviews

Daily

Frequency

92% - 98%

Effectiveness

None

Blood clot risk

None

Effect on fertility

Combined pill ingredients

Main hormones in Combined pill

progestogen

oestrogen

Fertility awareness methods (FAM) ingredients

Fertility awareness methods is an umbrella term for a method of contraception that works by being able to identify when in the menstrual cycle you are fertile through a range of factors.

What Lowdown reviewers say

Benefits: What this contraceptive can help with

Acne or bad skin

Heavy periods

PMS and PMDD

PCOS symptoms

Period pain

There are no benefits that are recognised in scientific research or guidelines for this contraceptive

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£From £0.16/day

Try it now

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Check out our latest reviews

Real life reviews from people like you

Combined pill reviews

2342 reviews

Used for 5 - 8 yr
24 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  today

  •  Stopped using

I was initially prescribed GEDAREL 30/150 to treat acne when I was 15. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression since age 14 which is managed with SSRIs. I can confidently say that GEDADAREL has not had any effect on my mood, but it should be noted that I have been on SSRIs for the entire time that I used it. It also drastically improved my acne which was an absolute miracle at that age. The only other side effect I noticed was larger and more tender breasts. I have always had light periods and I didn’t notice much of a change to my periods on the pill. I remained on it continuously until age 19. I took a break for around 9 months, during which time my acne returned. Went back on it age 20 when I got into a relationship and was on it continuously until the start of this year (age 23). I stopped using Gedarel because I am currently celibate and single and I haven’t had any severe issues with acne, so it feels unnecessary to pay for contraception. When I need contraception again I will definitely go back to Gedarel.

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Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

Used for 8+ yr
26 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  4 days ago

  •  Stopped using

Started taking this pill 8 years ago when I was 18 for contraception and to lighten periods that were on the heavy side and quite painful. The first few years were great, periods were lighter and less painful, no notable side effects. I started tricycling packets a few years back allowing me to plan periods around events. I think with time periods on this pill became more painful and heavier, with some infrequent almost unbearable pains, maybe once per period I would have 10 mins of agony. My blood pressure is now slightly raised and I have been having heart palpitations/high Heart rate. I had a migraine with aura a few weeks back (during my pill free week so probably linked to hormone changes). My skin has worsened in the last few years with big chin and jaw cysts but again these are infrequent. I hadn’t noticed mood changes maybe as I had been on this pill for so long. My sex drive was also none existent and I would never think of initiating sex. Due to all these symptoms I have come off birth control all together. I was incredibly anxious about coming off the pill as the thought of no longer having control over my periods was so alien to me. Since coming off my heart symptoms have improved, migraines improved, skin has improved (but I have been using prescription medication too), mood has improved (apart from the few days before my period!). The first period back came exactly 28 days after stopping the pill and has been heavier but less painful and manageable using a menstrual disc. My sex drive Increased immediately after stopping the pill and even more so around ovulation. I had lost about 6lbs from around my hips and stomach in a few weeks with no diet changes. My boobs feel slightly smaller and are more sensitive. I am now looking for the right alternative contraceptive for me whilst tracking my monthly cycles and getting to know my body better. The doctors immediately recommended I switch to a POP which I haven’t done yet, as maybe non hormonal would be better. Coming off the combined pill has prompted some open conversations with friends, and to my surprise all have had their own struggles with combined pills and no longer take them. I think we need more support as young women to make informed decisions around these topics rather than get dumped on the cheapest medication available that have symptoms that impact so many aspects of physical and mental health. In summary it was good for a while and may be better for some people but don’t let yourself feel trapped by the convenience of this pill. Don’t ignore any negative side effects as ultimately your body knows best.


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

Used for 5 - 8 yr
Lowdown user
🇬🇧 UK
  •  6 days ago

  •  Still using

Only negative for me is it does make me very emotional and I’m not usually an emotional person!


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

Used for 5 - 8 yr
24 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  today

  •  Stopped using

I was initially prescribed GEDAREL 30/150 to treat acne when I was 15. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression since age 14 which is managed with SSRIs. I can confidently say that GEDADAREL has not had any effect on my mood, but it should be noted that I have been on SSRIs for the entire time that I used it. It also drastically improved my acne which was an absolute miracle at that age. The only other side effect I noticed was larger and more tender breasts. I have always had light periods and I didn’t notice much of a change to my periods on the pill. I remained on it continuously until age 19. I took a break for around 9 months, during which time my acne returned. Went back on it age 20 when I got into a relationship and was on it continuously until the start of this year (age 23). I stopped using Gedarel because I am currently celibate and single and I haven’t had any severe issues with acne, so it feels unnecessary to pay for contraception. When I need contraception again I will definitely go back to Gedarel.


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

Used for 8+ yr
26 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  4 days ago

  •  Stopped using

Started taking this pill 8 years ago when I was 18 for contraception and to lighten periods that were on the heavy side and quite painful. The first few years were great, periods were lighter and less painful, no notable side effects. I started tricycling packets a few years back allowing me to plan periods around events. I think with time periods on this pill became more painful and heavier, with some infrequent almost unbearable pains, maybe once per period I would have 10 mins of agony. My blood pressure is now slightly raised and I have been having heart palpitations/high Heart rate. I had a migraine with aura a few weeks back (during my pill free week so probably linked to hormone changes). My skin has worsened in the last few years with big chin and jaw cysts but again these are infrequent. I hadn’t noticed mood changes maybe as I had been on this pill for so long. My sex drive was also none existent and I would never think of initiating sex. Due to all these symptoms I have come off birth control all together. I was incredibly anxious about coming off the pill as the thought of no longer having control over my periods was so alien to me. Since coming off my heart symptoms have improved, migraines improved, skin has improved (but I have been using prescription medication too), mood has improved (apart from the few days before my period!). The first period back came exactly 28 days after stopping the pill and has been heavier but less painful and manageable using a menstrual disc. My sex drive Increased immediately after stopping the pill and even more so around ovulation. I had lost about 6lbs from around my hips and stomach in a few weeks with no diet changes. My boobs feel slightly smaller and are more sensitive. I am now looking for the right alternative contraceptive for me whilst tracking my monthly cycles and getting to know my body better. The doctors immediately recommended I switch to a POP which I haven’t done yet, as maybe non hormonal would be better. Coming off the combined pill has prompted some open conversations with friends, and to my surprise all have had their own struggles with combined pills and no longer take them. I think we need more support as young women to make informed decisions around these topics rather than get dumped on the cheapest medication available that have symptoms that impact so many aspects of physical and mental health. In summary it was good for a while and may be better for some people but don’t let yourself feel trapped by the convenience of this pill. Don’t ignore any negative side effects as ultimately your body knows best.


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

Used for 5 - 8 yr
Lowdown user
🇬🇧 UK
  •  6 days ago

  •  Still using

Only negative for me is it does make me very emotional and I’m not usually an emotional person!


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments


Fertility awareness methods (FAM) reviews

146 reviews

Used for 3 - 6 mo
25 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  1 week ago

  •  Stopped using

I didn't really do this properly and only used it here and there! So I am definitely not an expert on this, but if you have regular periods and are organised I can see why this may be beneficial! Especially as no hormones


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

Used for 3 - 6 mo
30 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  1 month ago

  •  Still using

Started using Natural Cycles after having my first baby. I exclusively breastfeed and my first few periods after giving birth were all over the place. Tracking using the app just gave me a bit more info on my body and how long I was going between cycles etc. I’m just over a year post partum now and periods have returned to normal and I put knowing that down to the app. Baby still wakes a bit in the night so it can be a bit difficult to know exactly when to measure my temperature but the app has some helpful articles on this. Overall, love that it’s hormone free and that I can see helpful information on my cycle in an eat to use app! If considering, try finding a friend or someone with a referral code to get a discount on app subscription x


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

Used for 12 - 18 mo
26 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  27th Jan 24

  •  Stopped using

After bragging about the natural cycles for a while, and following it religiously, checked everyday, noted everything, I fell pregnant twice. I was someone who was super regular as well, so the app knew my cycle very well. I thought the first was an outlier then it happened again. Stress, exercise or changes in the normal routine can change your natural cycle, so the app can’t see what’s going on inside your body. So, this method is great if you’re not worried about falling accidentally pregnant and having a baby. If not, use contraception.


Top side effects not reported

1 helpful

0 comments

Used for 3 - 6 mo
25 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  1 week ago

  •  Stopped using

I didn't really do this properly and only used it here and there! So I am definitely not an expert on this, but if you have regular periods and are organised I can see why this may be beneficial! Especially as no hormones


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

Used for 3 - 6 mo
30 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  1 month ago

  •  Still using

Started using Natural Cycles after having my first baby. I exclusively breastfeed and my first few periods after giving birth were all over the place. Tracking using the app just gave me a bit more info on my body and how long I was going between cycles etc. I’m just over a year post partum now and periods have returned to normal and I put knowing that down to the app. Baby still wakes a bit in the night so it can be a bit difficult to know exactly when to measure my temperature but the app has some helpful articles on this. Overall, love that it’s hormone free and that I can see helpful information on my cycle in an eat to use app! If considering, try finding a friend or someone with a referral code to get a discount on app subscription x


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

Used for 12 - 18 mo
26 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  27th Jan 24

  •  Stopped using

After bragging about the natural cycles for a while, and following it religiously, checked everyday, noted everything, I fell pregnant twice. I was someone who was super regular as well, so the app knew my cycle very well. I thought the first was an outlier then it happened again. Stress, exercise or changes in the normal routine can change your natural cycle, so the app can’t see what’s going on inside your body. So, this method is great if you’re not worried about falling accidentally pregnant and having a baby. If not, use contraception.


Top side effects not reported

1 helpful

0 comments

Used for 12 - 18 mo
26 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  11th Jan 24

  •  Still using

I LOVED this app, it was truly the best option as someone with a medical condition hormonal contraception was not possible and the side effects of others seemed too problematic. However after 13 months of bragging about how great my experience has been with the app I fell pregnant. This was devastating as I followed the app religiously and was an outcome I did not want. I even think I know what green days caused this as around my 10month in it began to green light the day after my period had ended, which was new. Having trusted the app so far I began having unprotected sex on these green days after my period not long before the pregnancy. Since this has happened I have research further and I believe this app is not being investigate enough and it’s far less efficient than we are led to believe. Despite of this I am still using the app however ,we now use condoms even for most of the green days as I feel I cannot trust it. I am seeking alternatives but with my medical background it is slim pickings. My take away- there are no side effects accept the very real possibility of getting pregnant. If you see any ad on Instagram rn it is swamped with comments with women having got pregnant from the app and I suspect those of us who had to have an abortion have kept quiet. I wanted this to be a true alternative to all the havoc other forms of contraception cause but have been let down in the worst way.


Top side effects not reported

1 helpful

0 comments

Used for 12 - 18 mo
31 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  8th Dec 23

  •  Still using

I am so pleased to find this after years of side effects from other contraceptives. Doing this method takes work- ovulation testing and I use an oura ring to accurately measure temperature. I wouldn’t recommend this for someone who doesn’t understand how it works, doesn’t understand their body or does not have restraint to use barrier contraception or abstain during red periods. It really works for me and I’ll be using it for the foreseeable.


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

Used for 6 - 12 mo
31 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  18th Sep 23

  •  Still using

Literally no side effects, no fake hormones affecting my body or mental health. Use symptothermal - 11 months in and find temping and checking cervical mucus easy and not at all laborious. We use condoms during fertile window (for me that’s usually about 9 days) and unprotected the rest of the time. No scares and I feel confident and secure with this method. I’ll never go back to hormonal birth control!


Top side effects not reported

1 helpful

2 comments

Used for 1 - 3 mo
29 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  21st Aug 23

  •  Stopped using

Natural cycles seemed promising when I first came across it in 2017 and read the reviews. I got the NC app along with the most expensive (hence hopefully most accurate) thermometer I could find to enter my readings. My partner and I decided to try it in place of condoms. I entered my thermometer and period readings religiously and only ever had unprotected sex on the ‘green: not fertile’ days when it says it’s safe to have sex. The next month I was pregnant. We were devastated. To add insult to injury, Natural cycles deleted my reviews about their product, offered ZERO help or acknowledgment of my situation and rather suspiciously my iTunes review of their app (tried from 2 separate accounts) was never published, despite my trying several times. Which is odd as I hadn’t said anything untoward, I’d simply stated my experience of using it and getting pregnant.


Top side effects not reported

8 helpful

2 comments

Used for 12 - 18 mo
28 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  8th Aug 23

  •  Still using

After feeling like I’d tried every hormonal contraception and not getting on with anything, Natural Cycles was such a breath of fresh air. I was nervous at first as it feels like there is more risk of pregnancy, but after taking the time to research I felt confident in this method. You have to be strict with yourself and use protection/ abstain on red days but it’s worth it. I feel so much more like myself without using hormones and I have also learnt a lot about my body. Highly recommend if you’re willing to spend some time getting used to the app, learning to take your temp correctly and being responsible throughout your cycle.


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

2 comments

Used for 12 - 18 mo
24 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  4th Aug 23

  •  Still using

Came off contraception methods due to all the side effects. I’ve been on 5 different pills and had the implant) so far this is the best for me. Been doing NC for over a year and it has worked for me and my partner. You will have to stick to no sex or protected sex on red days. Took me a little while to understand my body but after 6 months I feel I know my body a lot better in terms of when I ovulate and when my period is coming.


Top side effects not reported

1 helpful

0 comments

Used for 6 - 12 mo
27 years old
🇬🇧 UK
  •  28th Jul 23

  •  Still using

Coming off hormonal contraception is probably the best thing I have ever done. I was on the combined pill for 5 years and the Mirena coil for nearly 2. The coil gave me horrific acne (never had acne in my life). I had it taken out in January this year, it’s now July, and WOW. My skin has completely cleared, I feel more mental clarity, I’m more in tune with my cycle, it’s regular, my PMS isn’t as bad, and overall I just feel really in control of myself. I’m in a long term relationship so using condoms for 1 week each month is fine for us. I’ve never had a pregnancy scare despite having unprotected sex most of the time! Who knew being natural could be so incredible! I would recommend to anyone in relationships and no underlying gynological issues to definitely try going hormone free!


Top side effects not reported

0 helpful

0 comments

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