There are many fertility- awareness- based birth control apps but Natural Cycles is the only one that’s certified by an EU Notified Body to be used as a contraceptive in Europe. So what is it and how does it work, exactly? To learn more about the app and to see if it’s the right fit for you, read on for our Natural Cycles review below.
What is Natural Cycles?
Brain child of Elina Berglund and Raoul Scherwizl, Natural Cycles is the first contraception that uses an algorithm, not hormones, to prevent pregnancy. It’s backed by clinical studies and is also certified as a class IIb medical device. As noted on their website for healthcare professionals, this puts the app in the same category as the condom.
Simply put, it’s an app that you can download on your phone. It also comes with a basal thermometer which you will use to measure your temperature every morning before getting out of bed.
Besides contraception, the Natural Cycles app also helps you get more in tune with your body and understand your cycle better.
How Does Natural Cycles Work?
Before we can jump into understanding how Natural Cycles works as a contraceptive, it’s important to understand a few things about a woman’s cycle and ovulation.
As noted in an article by Business Insider, when a woman ovulates, her body temperature slightly rises by around 0.3 degrees Celsius. It also remains slightly elevated throughout the rest of the cycle.
Business Insider goes on to explain that the ova (eggs) only live for about a day. Thus, if a woman were to have heterosexual sex after ovulation, she won’t get pregnant. However, know that sperm can stay alive in the uterus for around a week. So, if she were to have unprotected sex right before ovulation, there’s a chance that she can get pregnant.
Thus, the Natural Cycles app works by taking a woman’s cycle into account. It’s a data-driven app which uses an algorithm to determine when you’re ovulating and at risk of getting pregnant.
It does this by calculating your basal body temperature to understand and get to know your cycle. As noted on Natural Cycles’ website, this temperature reading is an indirect measure of your hormonal levels. Thus, the app will use this reading to determine whether or not you can get pregnant that day.
If your cycle is irregular, the app accounts for that too. Per Natural Cycle’s website, the app will still be effective; however, you may experience more red days. This is why it may not be the most suitable contraception for women with irregular cycles.
Natural Cycles will also take into account when you’re sick, temperature fluctuations, and sperm survival.
How Effective is Natural Cycles as a Birth Control Method?
According to a study by Berglund Scherwitzl and colleagues, with typical use, this app has a Pearl Index of 6.9 pregnancies per 100 women. That means, out of 100 women, 7 are likely to become pregnant in a year.
Note that not all birth control methods are 100% effective. The pill has a failure rate of 9% with typical use, and the shot has a failure rate of 6% if it isn’t taken correctly. There’s even a 1% chance of getting pregnant on the IUD, one of the most effective forms of reversible birth control!
In order for Natural Cycles to work effectively, it’s important to abide by the app’s recommendations. If it cautions you to use back up protection on a red day, don’t ignore it!
Note that you won’t be protected from STIs while using Natural Cycles. So, always use a condom (regardless of what method you’re using) to prevent the spread of infection.
How to Use Natural Cycles
Using the app is easy. You will measure your temperature with the basal thermometer provided first thing in the morning (around the same time) before getting out of bed. You will then enter your reading in the app.
Based on the data, the app will determine if the day is red or green. Red days will mean that you should use back up contraception like condoms. Green days will mean that you’re not at risk of getting pregnant, even without using back up contraception.
Upon initial use, the company notes that you may experience more red days than green. However, it’ll take around 1 to 3 cycles for it to learn your body’s cycle. Patience is key here!
Is Natural Cycles for You?
We get it. Dropping your hormonal birth control and switching over to the app may seem pretty daunting. So, how do you know if it’s right for you?
The company recommends the app to those women who are between 20 and 40 years of age who are in stable relationships. They also recommend it to women (and their partners) who are comfortable with using condoms or other backup protection red days.
Furthermore, the Natural Cycles app is most effective when used correctly. So, if you’re forgetful with the pill or patch, it’s better to opt for the IUD or implant as opposed to a method that relies on you (like the pill or Natural Cycles).
Overall, the app was created for women who are looking for alternatives. It’s a more natural and affordable approach. However, be sure to talk to your doctor when exploring the best birth control method for you!
Natural Cycles Review
On the Google Play app store, Natural Cycles has 4.6 stars out of 5. There are 7,744 ratings in total. Overall, reviews are mostly positive. On top of using it for pregnancy prevention, some women enjoy the fact that it’s a natural contraceptive option with no side effects, while others like having more in-depth information about their cycles.
On the Apple Store, Natural Cycles has a star rating of 4.7 out of 5. There are 338 ratings in total. Again, reviews are mostly positive. Women using the app have noted that they understand their body better and enjoy the fact that they do not experience side effects while using it as a contraceptive.
Overall, most users have found it to be an effective form of contraception. However, keep in mind that this method may not be suitable for everyone depending on their cycles and lifestyles.