It’s just one day left till 8th march the International Women’s day. Can we please take a moment and appreciate this birth control app: Natural Cycles.
Who would think an app can be used as birth control?
This is a product that makes me feel like I live in future. All you need to do is measure your temperature in the morning and then register it in the app. The app will analyze the data and tell you to use protection or not for birth control purposes. (or chances to conceive if you are planning a pregnancy).
Natural cycles is the world first app to be certified for the use of contraception. It also acts as a tool for fertility tracking and planning pregnancies. The company’s mission is to increase contraceptive choice and empower women to take control of their fertility, championing a vision where every pregnancy is wanted. Founded originally in Switzerland, the company now has its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden.
Ok, so now you might be wondering how this app works. Here are some of the features I used for the past 10 months as birth control:
This is what you see when you open the app:
You type in the temperature from your measurement and write in some notes if you want to. Notice that the option *don’t count this measurement*? That is in case you are feeling sick, hangover or slept 2 hours more or less than usual, and the temperature would not represent your fertility accurately.
Here is the overview you get after the app analyzing your temperature:
It also shows the entire cycles’ temperature in a chart:
Some days the app would send you messages suggesting you take an ovulation test to help with prediction. Or just reminder of periods or saying happy birthday!
After a few weeks of measuring, you will see more information about your cycle patterns in statistics:
Using this app gave me a chance to get some insight about my body, things I would never notice otherwise.
I figured that being away from my boyfriend will make me stop ovulate. (A sign of true love you think? 😂) And eating ice cream before menstruation gives me the worst PMS experience. I also think working out more often tend to shorten my cycles. Unfortunately, my cycles are highly irregular, but I am glad to see that my body is recovering and I have become more aware of its pattern.
My experience with hormone and menstruation has been a struggle since I was much younger. I got my period when I was 12 years old and for some odd reason, I enjoyed it a lot. It is a symbol that I am a woman with functioning reproductive system, and it made me felt “mature”. Yeah, I know, I was a super silly girl. But those sweet little days did not last. When I was 18 and decided to stop eating meat, I stopped menstruate for half a year because of poor nutrition, stress and winter depression. It was cured by some traditional remedies the doctors gave me but menstruation has always been problematic since then.
That was my first year in living in Sweden, the winter depression was confusing and my body was not having it. I started to have less and less menstruation during winter times, and the PMS symptoms have become so severe that I sometimes almost passed out and have to stay in bed for days.
The doctors told me that it wasn’t uncommon for me who was almost underweight to have irregular menstruation cycles. All they can do is subscribe me some birth control pills. Big mistake. I got skin rashes, allergies and mood swings that drove me crazy and had to stop the pills. And the worst part is that my uterus wanted to revenge brutally because I tried to control it with the hormone. Yep, it wanted to show me who is the boss, I suppose. Sometimes I might not menstruate for 4 to 5 months, and when I do, I kept bleeding for 3 weeks. I desperately needed to have a heart to heart conversation with my uterus, and ask it what the hey is going on and why!? That is when I started to pay attention to fertility tracking.
If you don’t have much experience with fertility tracking with temperature records, you will be amazed by the science behind this app. When I saw Natural cycles commercial 2 years ago, I was VERY skeptical. I know that people who are trying to conceive often track their basal temperature and draw charts to find out the best time to conceive. Using the same methods in a reverse way to prevent pregnancy seems to be very risky to me, but turn out I was worrying for nothing.
I have been using the app for the past 10 months and no pregnancy for me. *knock on wood* I never talked about it with people, mainly because I don’t know if I trust it enough to recommend to anyone. I also feared that if one day I got knocked out I will become a laughing-stock. But after 10 months of accurate predictions of ovulation and menstruation, I feel quite confident and strongly think this app has the potential to replace hormone birth control. Here is why:
1.Pills with hormones may cause mood swings
I actually never considered until I watched a hilarious video why women are crazy from Anna Akana. And I had an *OMG* moment because I realized that the worst time in our relationship was the time when I took birth control pills. Of course, there are other factors as well but I think the hormones definitely made it worse. Being a hypersensitive person as I already am, these hormones was like adding fuel to the fire. I’m not sure who suffered more, me or my boyfriend.
2. Pills with hormones may cause weight gain, nausea, upset stomach and fluid retention
Personally, I had experience with all these symptoms when I was using one type of pills called Yasmine, not the other kinds. But after this, I felt very cautious towards birth control pills because of all the uncertain side effects. I would rather stay away from hormone treatment unless it’s absolutely necessary.
3. Changes the level of sexual desire
It might partially be related to the mood swings, but again, it is different from people to people. Like Anna said in her video, the hormones tricks your body into thinking it’s pregnant so it won’t get pregnant. Doesn’t that sound a bit… unnatural? I wouldn’t choose a birth control methods that makes sex less desirable since that’s the reason I use birth control in the first place.
Although I do love this app and will continue to use it, I think there are rooms for improvement.
My first wish is the app to be connected with the thermometer directly so we wouldn’t need to register every morning manually. Doesn’t that sound super futuristic! ‘laziness is the mother of invention.’ Am I right? Secondly, I wish to know more what does the statistic reflex on my fertility and healthy, and maybe even some suggestions or reminders for the yearly check up with gynecologist etc. I also wish it can contain more educational information about female physiology so that more girls will learn to get in touch with their bodies from very young age.
From another point of view, I also wish that there is something similar for guys. I might be a bit carried away here but I wouldn’t want to make them feel left out, right? There could be an app for guys to record the lifestyle, track their fertility and improve sexual experience. And I would be so thrilled to see if NC could come up with something for men for preventing pregnancy. You never know where science could be taking us. Plus there are many couples suffering from infertility, and male infertility accounts for 40% of the cases, according to the CEO of Glow, another fertility tracking app that adds fertility tracking for men, but only for pregnancy planning purposes. It is the only app that also tracks men’s fertility and the moment but I am looking forward to seeing more in the market.
Last thing about this Natural cycles: It isn’t free. I am using a yearly subscription and will certainly continue to pay for this app until I find something better. Right now I am paying 590,00 Swedish kronor per year and that is equivalent to 66.16＄ or 52.98 £, which I don’t think is a big price to pay compare to other types of birth control like condoms and birth control pills. Although it also depends on how many ovulation tests you take because these tests aren’t cheap as I thought.
Disclaimer: I am not sponsored to make this blog post. I enjoyed this product and would like more people to get to know it.