Will an app on your phone replace the pill?


In a huge move the FDA just approved the first contraceptive cell phone app. The app, called Natural Cycles, is made by a Swedish startup company and has already been approved for use in the EU. It is the first mobile medical app approved for contraceptive use in the US!



It works on the principle that you can only get pregnant at certain times during your menstrual cycle. The app uses an algorithm to calculate these days based on your menstrual cycle and daily body temperature data submitted by the user.


How this method works:


The release of an egg from the ovary is called ovulation and usually happens around day 14 of a 28 day menstrual cycle. Fertilization happens when a sperm meets an egg that is released from the ovary and must happen within the first 1-2 days after the egg is released. However, healthy and vigorous sperm can survive in the vagina for up to 5 days (waiting…) so even if you have sex four days before ovulation there is a good chance you can get pregnant!


Safe Days – days when you can have unprotected vaginal sex and not get pregnant – are 3 days after ovulation all the way up until 5 days before your next ovulation.


The approved app helps monitor this and lets you know when you can and can’t get preggers. It uses input from you regarding your body temperature which should be measured every morning as soon as you get out of bed. Right before ovulation your body temperature drops to around 97 to 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit and after ovulation your body temperature rises by about half a degree F (0.5 F). Monitoring for these temperature changes helps the app predict when you’re ovulating and thus what your safe days are!


Are you sure this works?


The Basal Body Temperature method itself has a bad rep. Previous studies showed that apparently 24 out of 100 women who use that method for one year would get pregnant. However studies on this new app that incorporates body temperature into its algorithm show that the app has failure rates of only 1.8% for “perfect use” and only 6.5% for  “typical use.” These studies involved 15,570 women who used the app for 8 months on average. It seems like the Natural Cycles app’s algorithm is pretty reliable!


Here at MD Lingo – we appreciate that and prefer less surprises 😉


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