A “contraceptive” app designed to help users plan sex using the rhythm method has been reported to the Swedish Medical Products Agency (MPA) after 37 women (out of over 600 surveyed) said they got pregnant while using it.
The Natural Cycles app claims to measure a user’s body temperature during the menstrual cycle and notifies them when unprotected sex is less likely to produce children. A calendar in the app shows less fertile days in green and more fertile days in red, alerting users to the need to use extra protection on days when unprotected sex is more likely to lead to a fertilized egg.
Boasting hundreds of thousands of users, the app is the product of Dr. Elina Berglund and Dr. Raoul Scherwitzl, a Swedish married couple. They secured $30 million in funding in November, according to Engadget, and the app has been certified for contraceptive use by a German regulatory body.
The Södersjukhuset hospital in Stockholm, Sweden conducted the survey last year. They queried women seeking abortions starting in September and did so through the end of the year.
Natural Cycles says the popularity of the app is owed to surging demand for hormone-free contraceptive options. And in a series of statements, they make it clear that the company isn’t concerned about this new report.
In response to the findings — which come as Natural Cycles seeks FDA approval for use as a contraceptive in the United States — the company has said “no contraception is 100 percent,” adding that an accidental pregnancy is “an unfortunate risk with any contraception.”
The company says “To have 37 unwanted pregnancies out of the 668 mentioned in this study at Södersjukhuset means that [5.5 percent] of women who stated they used Natural Cycles also had an unwanted pregnancy.”
In a follow-up statement, they added:
Natural Cycles has a Pearl Index of 7, which means it is 93 percent effective at typical use, which we also communicate. Our studies have repeatedly shown that our app provides a high level of effectiveness similar to other methods.
— Natural Cycles (@NaturalCycles) September 26, 2017