The world’s first certified birth control app entered the scene 10 years ago when Natural Cycles launched in Sweden. The app gained FDA Clearance as a method of contraception in 2018, and according to customer testimonials, it has become a favorite with women seeking a hormone-free birth control option in the United States ever since. Today Natural Cycles boasts a worldwide user base of more than 3 million, but what’s behind the hype for this Swedish birth control app?
1. It’s a Certified Medical Device
There are a ton of apps out there that offer period and fertility tracking, but Natural Cycles is the only one that’s also a regulated medical device in the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore. Its FDA clearance means it meets the Class II product requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The app also has regulatory clearance in the EU and UK, where it has been CE-marked as a Class IIb medical device.
Natural Cycles’ traditional certifications demonstrate that the app meets the requirements to be used for birth control and has been reviewed by regulatory authorities. Natural Cycles is the only app that has been certified to be used as a method of contraception. Natural Cycles’ certifications also extend beyond its use as a medical device to protecting your data since Natural Cycles is compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and follows the FDA’s own cybersecurity requirements. Unlike other apps, Natural Cycles is available in some clinics and pharmacies, putting it next to other contraceptive methods you might find at your doctor’s office. You can also download Natural Cycles from the app store from anywhere.
2. It’s Based on the Science of Your Cycle
Natural Cycles is a birth control app that’s built with the latest technology, but the way it works comes down to basic biology. While it’s become commonplace to use contraception every day to suppress the natural hormonal fluctuations that trigger ovulation, an alternative way to prevent pregnancy is to find the fertile days in the cycle and avoid unprotected sex on those days instead. That’s exactly how Natural Cycles works: It’s able to find your fertile window based on body temperature, which rises slightly after ovulation. Keep in mind that external factors can impact the accuracy of this metric, so individuals measuring with a thermometer should take consistent readings as soon as they wake up every morning at the same time.
Natural Cycles also requires users to add their period data to the app, and there’s the option to add ovulation test results, too. This can help the algorithm learn the pattern of your cycle even faster.
Once the app’s algorithm has gotten to know your unique cycle based on your temperature data and details regarding your menstrual cycle, it’s able to predict your fertility window. The app gives a “Red Day” (when you’re likely to be fertile and need to use protection) or a “Green Day” (when you’re less likely to become pregnant). It’s important to note that it may take a few cycles in order for the app to more accurately predict your fertility.
3. It’s Free From Hormones (and Side Effects)
Hormonal birth control, such as the pill or the IUD, contain varying levels of the hormones estrogen and/or progesterone. These synthetic hormones are linked to side effects including headaches, tender breasts, mood changes and a decreased sex drive. Many people switch to Natural Cycles after experiencing side effects from their previous method, according to internal company data.
Natural Cycles entered the scene at a time when women were demanding more from their birth control. Today individuals are looking for an option that works for them, refusing to put up with side effects from methods that haven’t changed in decades. Natural Cycles offers a hormone-free alternative for those who don’t want to use a hormonal or invasive contraceptive. Natural Cycles is free from side effects, and now is free with US insurance, too! Learn more about how to get your NC° subscription reimbursed.
4. You Can Use It To Plan Pregnancy
When Natural Cycles co-founder Elina Berglund set out to create the world’s first birth control app cleared by the FDA, she had her future family in mind. After getting a hormonal implant removed, Elina was looking for a hormone-free option she could use until she was ready to start a family. She wanted to give her body time to adjust without hormonal birth control, while still effectively preventing pregnancy. After discovering a disappointing lack of options, Elina used her background as a physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research to create Natural Cycles: Armed with the power to analyze big data and the ability to code she spent a year working on the NC° algorithm.
Using the same science to plan pregnancy as you can to prevent it is one of the great benefits of the app. Natural Cycles users can switch to NC° Plan Pregnancy whenever they are ready. Research shows that women who use Natural Cycles get pregnant in three cycles or less on average. Without using Natural Cycles, 9 out of 10 women will become pregnant naturally within the first 12 months of trying.
5. It’s Now Compatible with Apple Watch
When it comes to collecting temperature data, Natural Cycles users have previously been able to measure two ways: using either a basal thermometer or with the Oura Ring, a cutting-edge smart ring that’s fitted with temperature sensors. Natural Cycles has now launched its integration with Apple Watch, offering women worldwide another way to use the birth control app.
Measuring with Apple Watch is as simple as wearing the watch on your wrist overnight while you sleep. Your temperature data is collected and analyzed by the Natural Cycles algorithm. All you need to do is wake up in the morning and check the app to get your fertility status for the day. Learn more about how Apple Watch works with Natural Cycles.
If wearing a measuring device overnight isn’t for you, you can also measure in the morning with a basal thermometer; get yours for free with an annual subscription.
6. It Can Be Up to 98% Effective When Used Perfectly
The reliability of a method is at the forefront of most people’s minds when they set out to choose their birth control. How effective a method is can be impacted by a number of things, including how the method works and how much effort is required from the user. For example, long-acting methods like the IUD and the birth control upper arm implant are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy because after they are fitted, you can forget about them and let them do their thing.
Other methods like the pill have slightly lower typical use effectiveness rates because they require us to do something daily. If we skip a pill or take it at the wrong time, this is an example of typical use. Whereas taking the pill at the same time each day every day would be an example of perfect use. The pill is 93% effective with typical use and more than 99% effective with perfect use.
Natural Cycles is also 93% effective with typical use, and it is 98% effective when used perfectly. To use Natural Cycles perfectly, all that’s required is abstaining from sex or using protection on Red Days.
7. Your Data Is Always Protected
Natural Cycles takes data privacy very seriously. It uses advanced data protection methods such as encryption and pseudonymization, and unlike many other apps, it promises never to sell your data. As a European company, its worldwide users also benefit from Natural Cycles GDPR compliance.
Every Natural Cycles user gets access to NC° Secure, our comprehensive privacy protection program that was designed to keep you and your data safe. As an FDA-cleared medical device, Natural Cycles is also required to comply with the FDA’s cybersecurity requirements.
The contraceptive landscape is changing, with new players like Natural Cycles putting the power to prevent pregnancy back in women’s hands. If you’re interested in trying the world’s first birth control app, Forbes Health readers can access a 15% discount plus get a free bluetooth thermometer via this link, or with code FORBES15 when you visit naturalcycles.com.