Contraceptive App – Yep, That’s Right!
“There’s an App for That”
And now there’s one you can use as a contraceptive method. The new, researched supported, Natural Cycles smartphone app takes readings of your basal body temperature to determine whether you’re fertile on a given day or not. The app gives its users a “green day,” for non-fertile – meaning contraception is not needed to prevent pregnancy – or “red day,” for fertile – indicating a contraception method is needed.
Resembles Family Planning Method
The method is very similar to family planning, where a woman determines which day she ovulates on and abstains from sexual intercourse, or uses a contraceptive method on days around ovulation. The difficulty with this method is that ovulation doesn’t always happen on the same day every month, so family planning can be off by day or two – accounting for its less than great track record. The Natural Cycles app utilized basal body temperature (and optional luteinizing hormone) to determine exactly when hormone levels are rising and the body is becoming fertile. It still seems a little “ify” but studies are showing very good results.1,2
Efficacy on Par with Pill
The efficacy of using this method is apparently comparable to using the pill – with about 0.5% false “green days,” or days when the app says that a woman is not fertile, but she actually is. Basal body temperature readings are taken each morning, upon rising, and inputted into the app. A 2-digit decimal place thermometer is needed, because the fluctuations in temperature needed to gauge the hormone differences are slight. There is certainly a need for consistency and routine commitment in using this method. And it may seem a little strange, but it could also be the wave of the future. Especially for women who aren’t going to use hormonal contraceptive methods anyway, this is an alternative that is more precise than simple family planning. It’s also a great way for women to learn more about their body.
- Berglund scherwitzl E, Lindén hirschberg A, Scherwitzl R. Identification and prediction of the fertile window using NaturalCycles. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2015;20(5):403-8.
- Berglund scherwitzl E, Gemzell danielsson K, Sellberg JA, Scherwitzl R. Fertility awareness-based mobile application for contraception. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2016;21(3):234-41.
Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.