While it is common knowledge that tracking one’s body temperature daily can help a woman predict when she is ovulating new research has found that inputting that information into an app is as effective for preventing pregnancy as the birth control pill.
A recent study carried out by researchers at Sweden’s prestigious Karolinska Institute and published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Healthcare involving more than 4,000 women found that an app, known as Natural Cycles is as effective, at preventing pregnancies as the pill.
Researchers found that, on average, for every 1,000 women that used the app correctly 100% of the time, 5 of them would experience an accidental pregnancy. And out of 1,000 women who either forget to input their temperature one or more times in a month or had sex on a red day, 7 of them could expect an accidental pregnancy.
The figures for the pill were considered similar: Only 3 women out of 1,000 who never missed a dose got pregnant, while 9 out of 1,000 women who missed a day taking a pill had an accidental pregnancy.
Since the app does not directly interact with the body, there are no known side effects associated with its use. By comparison, the pill has been associated with a risk of serious side effects including blood clots, depression and some types of cancers.
Natural Cycles works in a rather simple way. It measures when a woman is most likely to be fertile. To do this, a user must input her body temperature daily. An algorithm in the app then predicts when you are most likely to be ovulating.
A calendar in the app then shades days on calendar green or red. Green means there is a low chance of fertility so a couple can engage in intercourse, while red days means fertility is high and having sex could result in a greater likelihood of pregnancy. The longer a woman uses the app, the more accurate the algorithm gets in predicting when she is ovulating
The app is not free. Under an annual subscription, which costs $70, the company sends you a thermometer to use. There is also a monthly option costing $9 per month, though users have to have their own thermometers under that plan.
However, Natural Cycles is not the only product of its kind. Daysy, which bills itself as a personal fertility calculator, is a thermometer that attaches to a smartphone and also uses an algorithm to calculate when a woman is most fertile. It costs $330.