Contraception is changing. Less women are using the pill, more women are transitioning to IUDs (the coil) and then there is the rise of contraception apps.
Over the past 50 years there has been endless research on the effects of different contraceptives on those who are taking them. From fluctuations in weight, to crippling depression, anxiety and periods so heavy and painful that they prevent some women from leaving the house.
Nikki Leigh from Falmouth said, “I was on the combined pill (Microgynon) for 3 years which gave me severe depression, anxiety, mood swings and migraines. It made my periods heavier and longer.” Other contraceptives can cause issues too, Chantelle Raigan White, 20, said, “I had a contraceptive implant put in when I was younger, but after 6 months I found out it was infected and had to have it removed. It took 4 attempts to get it out as the implant was in bedded in my muscle.” The implant is supposed to last 3 years.
In a society that sees natural and organic as the new way of living, it is not a surprise that women – especially those in the millennial generation – are switching to contraceptive apps that allow a natural way of preventing pregnancy. This does make you wonder, if we as a society are now so cautious of the products we buy and put inside our bodies, why should our contraception be any different?
An app called Natural Cycles, created by Dr Elina Berglund, allows women to track their ovulation and be informed as to when they are at a chance of getting pregnant on certain days. There is now an actual algorithm that prevents you from getting pregnant. The algorithm takes significant factors into account, such as fluctuation in your temperature, sperm survival rates and cycle irregularities. How it works? You take your temperature first thing in the morning with your two decimal based thermometer and put the details into the app, this allows you to measure your hormones levels which subsequently alerts you if you are fertile that day. Green days you are safe, red days you should avoid unprotected sex. You can only get pregnant up to 6 days on each cycle, and this app helps pinpoint those vital days.
What is truly interesting are the statistics. This app in particular is proven to be 99% successful when used perfectly and 93% with typical use, whereas the pill is only 91% with typical use and condoms with 98%. There is a price to pay for this though, as you have to pay £5.99 monthly or you can sign up for a year at £39.99. They also sell their own thermometers at £19.50 or this comes free with year.
Other apps have been created for women to help track their menstrual cycle and predict when their period is due, but Natural Cycles is the first app that allows women to rely on their cycle without having to put anything into their bodies to prevent pregnancy.
Contraception is changing for women in the age of devices and this may be due to the common problems that seem to arise and affect those who are using conventional types. No, not every lady suffers problems with their pill, implant, coil or condoms, but it could be very helpful for those who are seeking a contraception that allows them to live their life in an as natural way possible.
It does seem that some apps work more than others and that the algorithm used for Natural Cycles is pretty powerful and spot on with its predictions. Charlotte Seviour-Smith, 22, from Falmouth, was relying on an app called Period Tracker to avoid her fertile days when she fell pregnant at the end of 2015, despite having polycystic ovaries (a syndrome that causes fertility problems.) She said, “When I went for my first scan during my pregnancy the lady doing my scan commented that I ovulated later than usual, so I had actually had sex on my fertile days even though my app told me I wasn’t.” Charlotte attempted to go onto the pill after giving birth but suffered mood swings and heavier periods, now uses condoms.
It is quite apparent that with the introduction into the world of fertility apps and period trackers, that contraception in the digital age is changing. Whether it be for practicality reason, or because conventional forms of contraception are physically and mentally affecting your body, at least women now have the option to go natural.