Contraceptive App ‘Natural Cycles’ Has Been Blamed For 37 Unwanted Pregnancies


by Georgia Aspinall |
Published on

A contraceptive app sounds like a dream come true, no more nasty side effects from the pill, no more painful IUD procedures. That is, until you read into it and realise it’s essentially practicing celibacy when your most fertile, or at least using protection when you are. Tracking your temperature to see if you’re on a ‘green’ or ‘red’ day, the app allows you to see whether or not you need to use protection that day.

Cynically, we read this and think, ‘hmm, maybe not’. However, a lot of women have put their faith in this app, which boasts 99% success and claims to be more effective than the pill. Now, after tens of thousands of downloads, the real results are in: unwanted pregnancies.

The Södersjukhuset hospital in Stockholm has logged a complaint with the Swedish Medical Products Agency, responsible for regulating medical devises, claiming that hospital staff had recorded 37 unwanted pregnancies in the last quarter of 2017 after using the app.

Around 125,000 British women supposedly used the app in 2017, after a study into its effectiveness found it was 99% effective under ‘perfect use’ and 93% under ‘typical’ use. This is 3% more effective than the pill. Perfect use means using the app correctly and consistently for one year, essentially taking your temperature first thing in the morning before getting out of bed every day for one year. Typical use means using the app correctly within that first year.

While it is approved by EU regulators, midwives at the Swedish hospital have reported the app stating they ‘have duty to report all side effects, such as pregnancies’. Natural Cycles have put out a statement in response, saying:

‘If you have a popular form of contraception such as Natural Cycles, then you also have to expect a certain amount of unwanted pregnancies from users using this method. Our studies have repeatedly shown that our app provides a high level of effectiveness similar to methods that require a daily routine.

‘We have not been involved in the study that SÖS is referring to so we cannot comment on specifics. However, we understand that it sounds alarming, but when Natural Cycles’ user base increases, naturally so will the amount of unwanted pregnancies coming from users using us, just as it would do with any kind of new contraception.

‘We agree with what midwife Carina Montin says, 'perhaps young people should use another form of contraception'.

We’re also inclined to agree that this app may be more suited to understanding your own cycle and fertility than necessarily using it as a contraceptive. While hormonal contraceptives aren’t perfect, by any means, they’re tried and tested methods in preventing unwanted pregnancy. We can only hope there’s more research into both hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptives, for both women and men, to protect against pregnancy in a less soul-crushing way, bringing a hot water bottle to work, way. Natural Cycles goal, ‘to increase contractive choice so that all women find a suitable method of contraception’ is one we should strive toward, but maybe not with their app- at least for now.

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