Gone are the days of tracking your menstrual cycle on a calendar or journal.
Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever mobile fertility tracker, Natural Cycles. It is a hybrid between non-hormonal contraception and technology making waves in the women’s health industry.
Natural cycles can be used as a method of contraception to prevent pregnancy in women.
The app contains an algorithm that helps women track days they are estimated to be fertile, a form of contraception known as fertility awareness. It was designed for women 18 years and older, of premenopausal age.
So how is the app able to track levels in the body? Users are required to take their temperature on a daily basis first thing in the morning using a basal body thermometer. They then have to enter the results into the app. This allows the app to track subtle changes along with a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Basal body thermometers are more sensitive to changes in temperature than a normal thermometer so it will detect minor rises in temperature, an indicator of fertility.
“At Natural Cycles we are all about combining scientific research and mobile tech to empower every woman worldwide with knowledge about her body, menstrual cycle and fertility,” according to the Natural Cycles website. “That way she can make a conscious decision on whether and when she wants to get pregnant. Choice is power.”
Women using the app for contraception should not have sex during the days they are most fertile, unless they are trying to get pregnant. Though there is no foolproof way to avoid unintended pregnancy, unless you abstain from sex, the clinical studies of Natural Cycles were promising.
There was a “perfect use” failure rate during clinical trials involving over 15,000 women. That means that over the course of a year, 1.8 out of 100 women who used the app will become pregnant on a day the app predicted they would not be fertile.
So far, Natural Cycles has enjoyed more than 900,000 subscribers, or “Cyclers”, worldwide according to its website. Users pay either a $10 monthly or an $80 annual subscription fee, which includes the basal thermometer.
The company was founded by Swiss-based wife and husband duo, Elina Berglund and Raoul Scherwitzl. Natural Cycles is now headquartered in Sweden and recently expanded an office location in New York.