An App That’s Also Birth Control? Would You Trust the Tech on...

An App That’s Also Birth Control? Would You Trust the Tech on this Biggie?

I really hope this app actually works...

Birth control on your phone? Yep, that’s really a thing now. There is a birth control app. Yikes! The big question is, would you trust the tech to keep you a baby-free-zone? 

Nuclear physicist Elina Berglund’s app is about to become the first technology-based contraceptive. Her app, Natural Cycles, isn’t approved everywhere. But, the German inspection and certification organisation Tuv Sud is set to classify it under the medicinal category IIb.

So, why an app? And, how does it actually work?

The point here is that the app is a tested contraceptive method that doesn’t interfere with how your body functions. Seriously. There are no hormones making you fat, moody and bloated to deal with. On top of that you don’t have to remember to take a pill every day, get a shot or have something inserted.

natural cycles app contraceptive
The team from Natural Cycles who are releasing an app to assist with birth control

The app uses your body’s natural cycle (um yeah, that’s pretty much where the name comes from – get it?) to predict if you can conceive on any given day. Okay, so remember when you weren’t a mum but wanted to be one? Maybe you got pregnant right away. Or, maybe you didn’t. If you didn’t, you may have spent your time trying to figure out when you might happen to ovulate.

One of the factors that went into the ovulation equation was your basal body temperature (BBT) – that’s your first-thing-in-the-morning temp. This app uses that first morning temperature to calculate whether or not you’re having a fertile day.

This techy contraception doesn’t just take your regular ol’ temp. It needs a reading that goes down to two decimal points. Why? The app is super-precise and needs to measure the teeny tiny differences from day to day during your cycle. It then uses your temperature readings (and a few other factors, such as sperm survival and possible irregularities in our cycle) and feeds them into a carefully calculated algorithm.

The algorithm gives you the ‘safe’ days to have unprotected sex. In other words, it tells you when you aren’t ovulating, didn’t just ovulate and aren’t about to ovulate. It also tells you the days when getting busy is a major non-no (that is, unless you’ve decide to add to your family).

natural cycles app contraceptiveEven though the app has shown accuracy in clinical testing, don’t expect it to work perfectly from the moment you adopt it as your contraception (even the makers let you know this on their website). The app needs a few months to learn your cycle. This may mean more ‘red’ (red days are the no sex days, and green ones are the go-ahead times) days than not at first. The longer you use the app, the more likely it is that you’ll have an increased number of ‘green’ days. It’s literally working out the formula specifically for you!

If you’re doubting this app, you aren’t alone. In 2015 the Swedish Medicinal Products Agency contacted Berglund, telling her to stop using the word “contraception” in reference to her product. As the agency investigated Natural Cycles, reports that the app was somehow tricking young women surfaced. It took more than a year for the founder (and her co-founder husband) to get justice. With the current German approval, and studies that back-up the effectiveness of the app, Berglund is back in business. Okay, so she was never really out of business. But, Natural Cycles did suffer amidst negative reports and the backlash from the Swedish Medicinal Products Agency’s investigation.

Don’t cry for the app too much –  it’s now getting plenty of attention in a positive way! Of course, you should always talk to your medical professional before starting any new birth control method. Every woman is different, and every woman has different needs. Whether you absolutely adore this app, or you aren’t entirely sure about it, a technology-based birth control is pretty cool.

Would you let your phone tell you when to baby-dance and when to put on the stay away from me flanny pyjamas? Would you trust an app to keep you baby-free? Is this the future? Or just a flash in the contraceptive pan? Either way it’s an entirely new way to manage your family planning.

Erica Loop
Erica Loop is a mum, parenting writer and educator with an MS in child development. Along with writing for websites such as PBS Parents, care.com, Scary Mommy, mom.me, Modern Mom, education.com and others, she also is the creator of a kids' activities and art blog.