Birth Control Apps & Digital Birth Control
Table Of Contents
- What are birth control apps?
- How does a birth control app prevent pregnancy?
- How effective are birth control apps?
- What are the benefits of birth control apps?
- What are the disadvantages of birth control app?
- Who is it most suitable for?
- Where can I purchase digital birth control?
- The need for non-invasive, non-hormonal birth control
What are birth control apps?
Birth control apps, also known as digital birth control, are a new player in the landscape of contraceptive health. While monitoring fertility through period tracking is no new concept, advances in technology and the age of the smartphone have made this more user-friendly and accessible.
Different fertility trackers use different methods. For example, the Natural Cycles birth control app is powered by an algorithm which identifies fertility and allocates ‘green’ (fertile) days and ‘red’ (non-fertile days) accordingly.
How does a birth control app prevent pregnancy?
Smartphone skeptics may be wondering, how can digital birth control prevent pregnancy? In the end, it all comes down to a woman knowing her cycle. During the entire menstrual cycle, the fertile phase is actually only made up of six days. This includes the day of ovulation, and five days prior to this, as sperm can survive in the female reproductive system for up to five days.
A key indicator of fertility is basal body temperature. When using a temperature tracking fertility awareness method like Natural Cycles, users must be committed to taking their temperature every day. This should be done with a basal body thermometer (showing two decimal points), first thing in the morning when resting body temperature is at its lowest. Temperature data is then added into the app.
This digital birth control app works by determining ovulation in each cycle and the smart algorithm will learn to predict and forecast fertility over time. Ovulation can be identified by a spike in body temperature, this is caused by a surge in progesterone hormone levels.
Find out more about how Natural Cycles works.
How effective are birth control apps?
Because different birth control apps have different effectiveness levels, there’s no one answer to this question. However, Natural Cycles, the first FDA approved birth control app, has a typical use effectiveness rate of 93%. This means that over a year of usage an average of 7 out of 100 women will get pregnant while using Natural Cycles.
Typical use includes both method failure (a technicality with the app itself), or user error (having unprotected sex on a day which the app has identified you to be fertile). It’s worth remembering that other than abstaining from sexual intercourse, no method of birth control is 100% effective.
What are the benefits of birth control apps?
Digital birth control is non-invasive and non-hormonal. It works well as a long-term method as the more you use digital birth control, the more data the app has to learn about your unique cycle.
Thinking longer term, birth control apps are also useful tools when it comes to planning a pregnancy as the same fertility tracking method is used. Understanding the menstrual cycle is rewarding for many women too, as they become more attuned to their own bodies.
Summary of benefits:
- Side-effect free
- Non-invasive (no surgical procedure)
- No prescription required
- No major risk or health concerns
- Gives insight into female health and menstrual cycle
What are the disadvantages of birth control apps?
Digital birth control requires a level of commitment as you need to input data into the app almost every day. Digital birth control is not best suited to those with irregular cycles or with pre-existing conditions, like hyperthyroidism, which affect body temperature.
No birth control apps can protect against sexually transmitted diseases and users must use condoms or abstain from sex on days that the app has identified as fertile.
Summary of drawbacks:
- Does not protect against STIs
- Requires a regular routine and commitment
- Users must abstain from sex or use protection on fertile days
Who are birth control apps most suited to?
With the above in mind, it’s worth thinking about who will have the best experience using digital birth control methods. Because the fertility app technology doesn’t protect against STIs, it’s best suited for women who are already in committed relationships. These women should also be comfortable abstaining from sex, or using a condom on fertile days to prevent pregnancy.
If you have an irregular menstrual cycle or a thyroid condition, then digital birth control may not be the best option for you. The same goes for if you have fluctuating sleep patterns. This is because the birth control app may struggle to get to know and track your cycle as the data may be inconsistent, this in turn results in you being allocated more fertile days.
Digital birth control is very much about lifestyle, the more data you choose to put into the app, the more you are likely to get out of it. If you are interested in your own reproductive health and are looking for a natural alternative to the common methods, then digital birth control could definitely be a suitable option for you.
If you are planning on starting a family soon, but are not yet ready, then digital birth control could be a method of birth control for you. This is because you will not be on any hormonal birth control, so you will not have to transition back to being hormone-free before you try to conceive. You will also likely have raised awareness about your own fertility after you’ve been tracking your cycle.
If pregnancy is devastating or life-threatening, then digital birth control is not a recommended option.
Where can I purchase digital birth control?
No prescription is needed when it comes to birth control apps. You can purchase digital birth control online directly from manufacturers and download from the app store or Google Play depending on your device.
The need for non-invasive, non-hormonal birth control
While the idea of digital birth control might seem radical for some, the rhythm method or calendar method is one of the oldest forms of family planning around. There’s a reason these time-old methods haven’t fallen by the wayside as the landscape of women’s health has shifted. In part, this is because of their natural, non-invasive and non-hormonal properties.
Many women struggle with the side effects of hormones, or want to avoid putting anything inside their bodies. While the rhythm method or calendar tracking can be laborious and open to human error, many women still favour these methods because they’re side-effect free. Whether hormones don’t agree with their bodies, or they plan on starting a family soon, this manual tracking also allows women to gain insight into their own menstrual cycle.
In the age of the smartphone, manual charting with pen and paper is no longer something we have to worry about. Non-hormonal, non-invasive birth control has become more accessible through birth control apps. Data can be collected, inputted and calculated in a matter of seconds. While this is still a daily lifestyle commitment, and isn’t the best method of birth control for everyone, it’s a welcome new option for many.
It’s worth also mentioning that digital birth control from Natural Cycles uses more advanced calculations than the traditional rhythm method. Temperature is measured daily using a basal body thermometer, data is added into the app, and the smart algorithm then calculates fertility accordingly. It is not simply a case of writing down dates and looking at predictions from your last period.