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How do you fancy handing over control of your contraception to an app? Well, with technology taking over every other aspect of our life, it was only a matter of time until it started managing our fertility too.
The freedom that came with the launch of the contraceptive pill in the 1960s was a massive game changer for women – not only freeing us up sexually, but also having a huge impact on our careers, education, family life, the works.
Culturally and in health terms, one of the biggest breakthroughs of the twentieth century, Loretta Lynn’s 1975 ode to the freedoms and choices that the contraceptive pill gave to women, “The Pill”, is a fantastic window into what women’s lives were like before it. And Kirsty MacColl’s sparklingly derisive line in ‘A New England’, “I put you on a pedestal you put me on the pill” sums up just how we came to rely on it – and maybe from a male point of view, expect it.
The hormonal contraceptive pill works by mimicking the natural hormones of the female body, preventing pregnancy because ovulation just does not occur. Perfect; but in a time when we are increasingly concerned about everything we put in our bodies, there’s a need for an alternative that for some can no longer be ignored. It’s a new century after all. No surprise then that some women are flushing their pills down the toilet and seeking out natural methods of contraception.
There are lots of ways you can go when choosing the method of contraception that is right for you. There is no ‘one size fits all’; every woman is different, with different needs and priorities. But it’s been proven* that you’re more likely to get it right and avoid an unplanned pregnancy if the method of contraception you are using matches up with your lifestyle and personal preferences. This is why contraceptive choice is so important. Increase the options, and more women will be able to find a contraceptive that is right for them. Simple.
With all this in mind, it’s great to see new contraceptive methods being developed that offer more choice to fit women’s changing needs and twenty first century mindsets. One option is offered by Natural Cycles; an app that marries a smart algorithm with monitoring of basal body temperature. The CE certified and FDA cleared app requires women to measure their temperature at least five mornings a week and input it to the app. It then calculates the users’ fertile and infertile days and informs them when they can have sex without protection; although of course this does not protect against STIs. It’s simple – you’re either on a red or green day – and on red days you have to use condoms or abstain to prevent pregnancy.
It takes time for Natural Cycles to sink-in to your own personal ‘rhythm’, so expect more red days in the beginning – but the number of green days will increase with time. Studies have shown that Natural Cycles is 93% effective with typical (or common) use. This means that 7 out of 100 women become pregnant within a year.
The other benefit that comes with Natural Cycles is of course, a real understanding of your own menstrual cycle – which can work in reverse if you ever decided to plan a pregnancy. Natural Cycles is designed for women who are 18 years of age or over, and the typical user is 30 and in a stable relationship, implying some routine. I guess you need to make sure you are taking that temperature most days to make a success of this, otherwise expect to receive more red days than average and need to use protection more regularly.
So how do you feel about giving control of your contraception to a digital app? Maybe Loretta’s “Oh daddy don’t you worry none ’cause mama’s got the pill”, could be updated to “Oh daddy don’t you worry none ’cause mama’s got the app!”
Learn more on the Natural Cycles website: www.naturalcycles.com
*Madden T, et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015;213(1):46.e1–46.e6.