WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The US FDA has approved Natural Cycles app as a form of birth control in North America.
- According to its website, the app uses an algorithm that “analyzes your body temperature to tell you exactly where you are at in your cycle and when you need to use protection to prevent a pregnancy.”
- In Sweden, there have been 37 women who claimed they’ve gotten pregnant while using the app.
The US Food and Drug Administration has finally approved a birth-control app, for the first time, in North America. The app, Natural Cycles, claims to gauge fertility.
The app was designed by physicists Elina Berglund and Raoul Scherwitzl, a husband-and-wife tandem from Sweden. It calculates and recommends when a couple should refrain from intercourse or when to use protection by tracking a woman’s period and her basal body temperature –no pill-taking or medications involved. When used exactly how it is prescribed, Natural Cycles helps prevent pregnancy.
It is the first app to acquire regulatory approval in Europe as well, however, it hasn’t gone without controversy as there have been 37 women who claimed they’ve gotten pregnant while using the app.
Assistant director for women’s health at the FDA’s Center for Devices, Terri Cornelison, states “Women should know that no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device.”
Scherwitzl explains, “Just like with the pill, you have scenarios where women take the pill everyday”, and then there are “scenarios where they don’t take it every day,” resulting to decreased reliability.
Like the age-old contraceptive approach, the calendar method, Natural Cycles is categorized under fertility awareness in the wide scope of birth control.
In 2016, a study done by the founders regarding the app’s efficiency was published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care. The study revealed that 7 out of 100 women got pregnant (based on 4,000 women participants, ages ranging from 18 to 45), all of which used the app in a typical fashion, accounting for common slip-ups that occurred.
The rate is very low, according to the CDC, in comparison to the traditional calendar approach which has a 24% average fail rate. Digital contraceptive apps still have crucial limits. But it can “provide encouragement” as Susan Walker, professor of sexual health at Anglia Ruskin University, wrote in an article for The Conversation.
She adds “While smartphone apps may provide encouragement, they can’t stop [men and women] from … sex altogether.”
The app’s effectiveness also relies on other factors, including both couple’s commitment to follow the app’s recommendation; to use protection or refrain from sex. It’s tough to control behavior when it comes to sex, and it’s still not a surefire way to prevent pregnancy.
Scherwitzl concludes, “In the end, what we want to do is add a new method of contraception that women can choose from without side effects…I think there are many women who this will be great for.”
Source: Business Insider