It seems there is an app for everything in this day and age, doesn’t it? This month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proclaimed its endorsement of Natural Cycles, the first-ever digital birth control for women age 18 and older, which graphs a patient’s fertility so that she knows which days to avoid intercourse. Created by a women’s health tech company based out of Stockholm, Sweden, the app has been permitted for contraceptive use in Europe since 2017. Natural Cycles require the patient to take her basal body temperature — that is, her temperature at rest — each morning upon waking, as well track her menstrual cycle, and input that data into the app. Relying on her self-reported information, Natural Cycles analyzes the data and warns the user to “use protection” (red days) when she is fertile and lets her know she is “not fertile” (green days) the rest of the time.
Keep in mind that the app is available in the App Store, Natural Cycles comes with a 30-day free test, after which the service is available for $79.99 per year, with a basal thermometer included; or for $9.99 per month but without a basal thermometer, which would need to be purchased discretely. Digital birth control seems to have taken the principle of fertility apps — that is, ovulation-tracking apps that assist women with getting pregnant — “and reversed it,” said Dr. N. Edward Dourron, a reproductive endocrinologist and fertility expert at Southern Fertility and Surgery Services in Chamblee, Georgia.
Side Facts on Birth Control in General (Two very popular forms)
- On the Birth Control Shot: The birth control shot (sometimes called Depo-Provera, the Depo shot, or DMPA) holds the hormone progestin. Progestin stops you from getting pregnant by stopping ovulation. When there’s no egg in the tube, pregnancy can’t happen. It also works by making cervical mucus heavier. When the mucus on the cervix is thicker, the sperm can’t get through. To get the shot’s full birth control powers, you must remember to get a new shot every 12-13 weeks. That’s about every 3 months, or 4 times a year. The shot must be given to you by a doctor or a nurse, so you must make an appointment and then remember to go to the appointment. It sounds simple, but sometimes things come up, so you plan for that.
- On the Birth Control Pill: Birth control pills are a kind of medicine with hormones that you take every single day to prevent pregnancy. There are many different brands of pills. The pill is safe, inexpensive, and operative if you always take it on time. Besides stopping pregnancy, the pill has lots of other health benefits, too. The birth control pill works by stopping sperm from meeting an egg (which is called impregnation). The hormones in the pill halt ovulation. No ovulation means there’s no egg hanging around for sperm to fertilize, so pregnancy can’t happen. The pill’s hormones also condense the mucus on the cervix. Thicker cervical mucus makes it difficult for the sperm to swim to an egg — kind of like a sticky security guard.