In a world first, an app has been certified as a contraceptive within the European Union, from a European health agency.
The Stockholm-based company was established by Elina Berglund and Raoul Scherwitzl, a couple with a background in physics who also designed the app. Elina was a member of the team that won the Nobel Prize in Physics, 2013 but the particle physicist left her job to develop her app idea not long after she assisted in the discovery of the elusive subatomic particle; the Higgs boson.
Having previously used a hormonal birth control implant, Ms Berglund and her husband began to consider having children and were unimpressed by the apps already on the market when they sought a natural way to avoid pregnancy.
Natural Cycles was launched in Sweden in 2014, determining a woman’s fertility based on her recorded daily temperature, in addition to their menstruation details. A red light represents days where the risk of pregnancy is high, indicating that the user should avoid intercourse or use protection, while a green light suggests a low risk of pregnancy.
A clinical study of 4,000 women was used to display the effectiveness of the app and during the trial just seven out of 100 women became pregnant, compared to approximately 24 out of 100 who were using a rhythm or calendar method.
Even though this app remains significantly less effective when compared to other forms of birth control, already it has garnered over 300,000 users, mostly based in northern Europe.
Ms Berglund highlighted that their company’s intention is not to replace other forms of birth control but to provide a more mathematically sound update of an ancient option.