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First-ever approved fertility app more effective than the pill, experts say

Published on 13/02/17 at 09:45am

Fertility app Natural Cycles has become the first-ever smartphone application and software solution to be approved by experts as a viable alternative to conventional contraceptive methods.

Developed by Dr Raoul Scherwitzl and Dr Elina Berglund, the app works by recording daily under-the-tongue temperature readings and utilises an algorithm to give accurate feedback on the user’s fertility to aid in preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Natural Cycles has been approved for use in the UK by Tüv Süd, a European regulatory body employed by the Department of Health and acting on behalf of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) following extensive clinical trial testing. Research gathered from the trials placed the app’s effectiveness at 99.5%; by contrast, the NHS places the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill at 99%.

“Women around the world are interested in exploring effective non-hormonal, non-invasive forms of contraception, and now they have a new, clinically verified and regulatory approved option to choose from,” explained Dr Berglund. “Our high-quality clinical studies, together with the required regulatory approvals, means we can provide women everywhere with a new option for contraception. Natural Cycles allow women to better understand their bodies so they can make choices that are right for them.”

Dr Berglund was previously part of the team that discovered the Higgs Boson at CERN, or the European Organisation for Nuclear Research – a feat which won the 2013 Nobel Prize. Berglund utilised statistical methods developed during this time to create the app’s algorithm.

The £6.99 app is already in use by over 150,000 women in 161 countries and is recommended solely for adult women, not for teenage users.

“Natural Cycles is not recommended to those who are very young or very keen to avoid a pregnancy since there are other more effective methods,” remarked lead author Kristina Gemzell Danielsson, from Swedish medical institute Karolinska Institutet. “The efficacy is far below that of intrauterine contraception or implants, but similar to that of the pill when used in real life.”

“Most of our users are 20-35 years old and less than 0.5% of our users are below 20,” added Dr Scherwitzl. “We do not have data for teenagers nor do we advertise to them. Our product is ideally suited for women in a relationship as well as women who feel bad from their currently used contraceptive.”

Matt Fellows

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