Contraceptive apps truly work?

By posted on September 20, 2020 5:36PM

Caroline Davis had been the usage of the Natural Cycles app as contraception for seven months while she located she became pregnant. “My duration was every week past due after I took the check,” she says. “The ‘you’re pregnant’ image got here up without delay. I cried on the lavatory earlier than phoning my boyfriend.”

The 33-year-vintage nurse from south London wasn’t ready for a child; she had most effective been with her companion for some months. After experiencing headaches with the contraceptive tablet, she had taken the danger of switching to the app – and now had to manipulate the results.

Natural Cycles is a 21st century take at the age-vintage rhythm approach of family planning, whilst girls tune their physical adjustments and menstrual records to calculate their fertile window. Heavily advertised on social media (fertility trackers are the most often downloaded sort of fitness app within the Apple Store), it charges £39.99 a year and springs paired with a thermometer, used to log your temperature before you get off the bed every morning.
Post-ovulation, progesterone warms the body with the aid of up to 0.45C, so an algorithm uses the information to calculate when users are probably to be fertile and offers them green and pink days; the latter after they should abstain from intercourse or use extra safety, such as a condom. Natural Cycles says it best offers inexperienced days whilst it is 99.95 in step with cent sure. Initially, it shows around 40 in keeping with cent purple days, hiking to 70 in step with cent after a few cycles.


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But Davis, who says she followed the app’s guidelines to a tee, isn’t the most effective girl to have fallen pregnant when using Natural Cycles. In the ultimate four months of 2017, the Stockholm South General Hospital in Sweden pronounced that it had helped 37 women terminate unwanted pregnancies conceived no matter the use of the app.

Although it’s miles nevertheless early days, over half of 1,000,000 girls worldwide have grown to become to Natural Cycles since the app released in Sweden in 2014. 12 months in the past, the technology changed into certified by way of European regulatory body Tüv Süd to be used as a contraceptive clinical tool; a fashionable extensively commonplace in the UK. And its popularity has grown here – 127,000 downloads and counting – given that a take a look at of twenty-two,785 girls posted inside the journal Contraception in August observed it become ninety-nine in line with cent powerful beneath “best” use and ninety-three according to cent effective beneath “ordinary” use. The contraceptive pill, with the aid of comparison, is ninety-nine consistent with cent powerful with ideal use but ninety-one in line with cent with regular use.

The majority of customers, around eighty in step with cent, use it for contraception in preference to fertility tracking, consistent with Dr. Raoul Scherwitzl, who co-based Natural Cycles with his wife Dr. Elina Berglund, 32, a Swedish particle physicist who came up with the set of rules to track her very own cycle.

“The usual person uses it for a few years as a contraceptive before switching to get pregnant,” says Dr. Scherwitzl. “It’s a product couple select when they need to save you pregnancies but is making plans to have a toddler in some years’ time.”

The average Natural Cycles’ consumer is 30-plus and in a solid dating – as in step with Sara Flyckt, 36, a former maitre d’ at Somerset House’s Spring eating place. A self-described “monster” while taking hormonal contraception, she was thrilled to find out an alternative after giving beginning to her son, six years in the past. Natural Cycles hadn’t yet acquired a regulatory stamp of medical approval, but Flyckt didn’t see it as a danger. “I by no means felt involved approximately the use of it in any respect,” she says. “I used it the way I become intended to and fixed to the purple and inexperienced days.”

Switching to the app stabilized her moods and had an effective impact on her intercourse life. “Hormonal contraception affected how I felt approximately my companion and what I desired,” she says. “Natural Cycles improved that.”

On finding out she become equipped to have some other child, Sara stopped the usage of the app
On deciding she turned into ready to have every other baby, Sara stopped the use of the app CREDIT: PASCAL VOSSEN
Flyckt used the app and thermometer until the summer season of 2016. “When we decided we wanted to attempt for any other baby, I swapped it over from save you to plan,” she recalls. “By then I knew my body and cycle quite well, so it best took more than one months to turn out to be pregnant.”

Britain’s regulatory body, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, is but to approve the app. Instead, it recommends the ones interested in the herbal technique are looking for education via their health practitioner.

“The fertility awareness technique is handiest whilst you operate a couple of fertility indicator, and when you’re taught it with the aid of a specialized trainer,” says Natika Halil, chief government of the Family Planning Association.

“Apps like Natural Cycles permit you to recognize your menstrual cycle better, and they can truly be useful if you’re making plans a being pregnant. But in the intervening time, we don’t advocate relying just on an app for birth control due to the fact there virtually isn’t enough unbiased research on their effectiveness but.”

Contraception that doesn’t rely on perfect use, which includes the implant and intrauterine gadgets, is greater efficiency, she says, including that it’s miles concerning when generation groups feed into the narrative that “hormones are bad”.

Caroline Davis has been the usage of the combined contraceptive tablet for five years when she became told it turned into now not safe to accomplish that. She was in her mid-20s and had commenced getting migraines with the air of secrecy, that is related to a better threat of stroke on the tablet. Swapping to the progesterone-only pill made her experience terrible: “I bled each day for 2 months in order that they upped my dose,” she recalls. “The better the dose, the worse I felt. I had signs of despair: I had no electricity, desired to live under a mattress, and felt truly emotional.”

It became after listening to approximately Natural Cycles’ certification, that Davis decided to attempt it, and met her associate, who works in coverage, quickly after. By summer season 2017, she was the use of the app for around seven months and had reached the factor while she had more green days than red ones. She input her temperature around 25 days a month and avoided unprotected sex while advised.

In July, she went to visit her new boyfriend in Amsterdam, in which he turned into running. “He immediately said my breasts looked larger,” she remembers. “I ordered a larger and couldn’t drink it; it didn’t flavor right.” She becomes pregnant.



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