UPDATE | Natural Cycles, One Year On: Would You Rely On An Contraceptive App To Prevent Pregnancy?

HONEST THOUGHTS & A FULL REVIEW OF THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE

A year ago today I sat down to research a new ‘contraceptive’ app that had been causing quite the controversy across social media. Natural Cycles was hailed as a hormone-free way to take control of your body, tracking your fertility using your basal temperature each morning and entering data into an app to show you when it was ‘safe’ to have unprotected sex; what was worrying about this new technology and their promotional posts that were starting to flood social media, was that there was very little discussion around the facts or transparency about the data – just ‘this has changed my life’ and a flurry of #ad declarations. Rightly so it started to cause waves and bloggers were called into question over their paid promotions; in the interests of providing a balanced view (and doing the research the majority of influencers failed to before they took money for promoting something so potentially life changing,) I spent the best part of half a day reading medical journals and research before writing up my thoughts.

The my findings are unedited and below, but one year on I wanted to address the increasing concern and negativity that has surrounded the app – and the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions that have resulted. A recent article in The Guardian, written by a woman who fell pregnant and had an abortion after using the app, positions Natural Cycles in an increasingly worrying light; rather shockingly, “a major Swedish hospital reported that 37 of the 668 women who had sought an abortion there between September and December 2017 were using Natural Cycles as their sole birth control.” That’s 6% of abortions in one hospital over only a few months being directly attributed to this method of contraception; the number of women that were probably too embarrassed to admit they were using the app (as well as those who fell pregnant and chose to keep the baby) would undoubtedly boost this even more.

What I find quite worrying is that one of the main bloggers who was paid to promote the app is now pregnant herself (planned or otherwise is none of my business,) but has failed to even address the fact she was using Natural Cycles as her method of contraception; what’s even more worrying is how this app is being positioned, with the majority of ambassadors being young aspirational women who have audiences that buy into everything they say. A quote from The Guardian says it all: “One paid-for post I saw featured a still life of a puppy, a pair of on-trend headphones, a self-help book and a thermometer, with a 250-word caption starting with “5 things I need in the morning.”‘ How are they allowed to position such a serious product in such a frivolous manner? Why are us bloggers allowed to get away with unethical, verging on misleading and trivializing something as important as fertility and contraception?*

Unsurprisingly the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) are now investigating Natural Cycles, their claims and their advertising – and not only because their 93% ‘success rate’ is based off users volunteering to share their stories, not clinical data. The Guardian article states that founder Elina Berglund in an interview “…described her ideal user as a woman who is planning to have children at some point, and who would like a break from hormonal contraception before trying. It’s not a good option for women who want to entirely avoid a pregnancy, she said. But somehow this message has got lost in Natural Cycles’ marketing.” I just can’t even.

My thoughts are now pretty black and white: this is not an effective form of contraception, but a tool by which you can plan a family and understand your body a little better. The risks associated with it are too high and the number of unplanned pregnancies make for worrying reading; I understand that other methods (particularly hormones associated with the pill) aren’t right for everyone and there’s an increasing backlash against them, but choosing to have unprotected sex will undoubtedly open you up to biological risks that you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand.

I’ll leave you with this quote from The Guardian as a summary of the downsides of this technology, because it’s all it took to convince me of the dangers: “With Natural Cycles, the slightest motion seemed to count. It was comedic until it became tragic; I got pregnant when the predictions of fertile and infertile changed back and forth in one day, turning from green to red, after I had unprotected sex.” Would you chance it? I know I wouldn’t.

(*NB: some influencers have dealt with Natural Cycles in an ethical, informed and transparent manner, but that’s definitely not the norm.) 

READ MY ORIGINAL AND UNEDITED ARTICLE BELOW 

—– DATED AUGUST 2ND 2017 —–

When I was fourteen I experienced one of the most mortifying moments of my life. During our weekly PHSE lesson, my 64 year old maths teacher handed out a supply of bananas followed by a flurry of little square metallic packets that could have contained elements of plague for all we wanted to touch them. Even though I attended an all girl’s school and didn’t have to attend with idiotic remarks from rather embarrassed boys, it was not an experience I would ever want to repeat. Sex education was brief, top-line and mostly consisted of the potential list of infections and diseases you could contract if you didn’t do it properly; there was no choice provided about contraceptive methods, no information on relationships in general and certainly no advice on what to do when it all goes a bit tits up (i.e. when you’ve had six jeagerbombs and wake up somewhere unfamiliar.)

It may be twenty years later, but I don’t think sex-ed has improved much in this country: we’re still struggling with an increase in STIs (figures published by Public Health England state cases of syphilis had jumped by 76% between 2012 and 2015 while cases of gonorrhoea rose by 53%,) even if teenage pregnancy is at its lowest since records began in the 1960’s. The majority of us still don’t really understand our bodies or how contraception works, and are generally ill-informed about sexual health. I’m a firm believer in giving young men and women as much information as possible, encouraging them to practice safe sex and look after their health as a priority – mainly because I feel like I’ve been scrimped along the way and haven’t been given the support I would’ve liked during the most important years of my life.

Contraception is such a important issue, but the method you choose is all about personal choice. Whether you opt for the pill, the coil, the implant, the injection or stick to trusty old condoms, every one of us will prefer their own combination to keep them safe from sexually transmitted nasties and unwanted pregnancies. Rather interestingly, a new form of ‘contraception’ has emerged in 2017 that has created quite the stir and debate, particularly after a lot of influencer endorsement: Natural Cycles. This innovative approach to pregnancy prevention is described as: “…an effective method of contraception. And so much more. It’s the app that gives you the knowledge to get to know your body and truly understand how your cycle works. It’s protection with more sexual freedom – minus the side effects.” 

In a nutshell, Natural Cycles involves an app and a thermometer which is used to measure your body temperature every morning before you get out of bed; it’s placed under the tongue and you enter your temperature into the app, where you’ll be given a notification of either a green (safe to have sex) or red day (possibility of getting pregnant.) Although it obviously doesn’t provide any protection against STIs, it is a fascinating alternative for those that either don’t want to ingest additional hormones or don’t get on with other forms of contraception. You know I’m all about the science, so I’ve done a lot of research into this method and reliance on body temperature as a form of birth control in general – as have Natural Cycles themselves. (In fact, there’s a whole science section on their website here.)

In order to prove the validity of the method, a retrospective study was commissioned by the brand and performed on 1501 cycles of 317 women aged 18 to 39; only 0.05% of non-fertile days were falsely attributed and found within the fertile window. (It’s worth nothing, however, that retrospective studies are flawed in that the data collected was not intended for the purpose in which it’s being used and may not always give an accurate representation.) Additionally, the app’s efficiency as a contraceptive method was examined on data from 4054 women who used it for a total of 2085 woman-years. (Side note: what the hell is a ‘woman year’? I can only assume this is a year’s worth of average cycles..!) The number of identified unplanned pregnancies was 143, which works out at around 3.5% of the women involved; ten of the pregnancies were due to the application falsely attributing a safe day within the fertile window (that 0.05% I mentioned earlier,) and the rest presumably being due to incorrect use of the app. The overall cumulative pregnancy probability results in a pregnancy rate of 7.5% per year: that’s about comparable with the contraceptive pill and actually better than condoms.

So in a nutshell, the science does prove that this can be a rather effective way of preventing pregnancy – if you use it correctly. However (and that’s a big however,) there are obvious drawbacks to this method. The first and most important is that it doesn’t provide any form of protection from sexually transmitted infections, so unless you’re with a long-term or trusted partner who you’re sure is tip top and healthy it’s a no-go without additional protection. It also doesn’t cover anyone who may experience things like PCOS, Endometriosis or thyroid problems (all of which can interrupt your cycle and also have an impact on body temperature, which the app relies on to be effective,) or even things like stress and sleep which can also have an impact on the way our bodies work. And the elephant in the room: there’s still a 7.5% chance you’ll get pregnant anyway.

Natural Cycles was approved as a class IIb medical device by Tüv Süd, which means it can be marketed as a hormone-free, non-invasive contraceptive option in Europe – however, there has been much industry-wide concern expressed as to the effectiveness and reliability of such a new method. The sexual health charity FPA, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FSRH) and Dr Cecilia Pyper of the University of Oxford and FertilityUK have all said that apps such as Natural Cycles often have complicated instructions that need to be strictly followed if they are to be effective; they’ve also stated that being classed as a medical device doesn’t guarantee the app will effectively prevent pregnancy. It’s also worth noting that the research was conducted by a company that is essentially funded by the app developers, so there may be some kind of conflict there; it can’t be ignored that they may want to interpret the data to meet their marketing (and shareholder) needs.

In my opinion this kind of method could work well for those of you with a clean bill of health, a regular cycle, no problems with stress or sleep, the ability to commit to the daily temperature readings – and more importantly, the ability to either abstain from sex or use alternative methods during your red days. It’s a good alternative for those of you that don’t get on with the pill (it can cause weight gain, mood swings and lack of energy among other things) or don’t like the idea of injections or foreign objects being inserted into your body; it’s also a great method for those that can’t use alternative forms of contraception for religious or medical reasons. However, if you don’t fit this profile (and I would imagine it’s pretty slim pickings) then it’s not necessarily the solution you’re looking for.

What concerns me about this brand is that their research could potentially be flawed, so their claims aren’t necessarily completely accurate. A red flag was also raised for me when I’d seen they’d been paying for influencer endorsements and not effectively managing the communications that are out there (of all the pieces I’ve seen, only one mentions the fact Natural Cycles doesn’t protect against STIs) or ensuring their message is conveyed in a responsible manner. In the interests of transparency, I was approached to try the device and actively encouraged to “stop using your current form of contraception” without any mention of consulting with a doctor or protecting against STIs; that is simply irresponsible. Having been part of many medical campaigns over the years, I know how many governing bodies and approval processes there are before content can be made live, but in this instance there seems to be no hoops that Natural Cycles have to leap through in order to market their product – especially to so many young women who hang off every word and recommendation from their favourite influencer. It makes me feel uneasy.

I feel really strongly about informed choices and responsible marketing, so I felt strongly inclined to write up my own thoughts and research on a device I would have otherwise left lingering at the back of my office cupboard. Personally I don’t feel this is right for me, and as I’m not in a position to deal with an unplanned pregnancy right now it’s not a chance I want to take. However, I do see its potential value to those that have exhausted all other options and want a hormone-free contraceptive method. It’s all about finding what’s right for you and doing as much research as you can in order to be fully informed; when it comes to your sexual health, don’t treat is as flippantly as buying the latest foundation launch – because the consequences of a bad choice hang around for a lot longer.

IMPORTANT NOTES TO READ:
1. If you’re with a new partner or aren’t 100% sure your partner is free from any infections, always use a condom. It’s the only way to prevent the transmission of STIs.
2. Before stopping any medication or opting for Natural Cycles as your only form of contraception, always speak with your doctor and discuss your options.
3. If you are considering relying on an app as your birth control method, then ensure you read the instructions fully and follow them to the letter on a daily basis.
4. The research conducted into Natural Cycles could potentially be flawed, biased or inaccurate, so don’t believe everything you read or hear without questioning it and adding a sprinkling of common sense.


DISCLAIMER: I was not paid or asked in any way to write this post. I wasn’t actually planning on covering the concept until I saw a huge amount of discussion (much without any fact based opinion) on social media; I personally feel like it’s always important to have a balanced view point and all the information on the table to make a decision that’s right for you. That’s what I’ve tried to achieve here.

You can find out more about Natural Cycles here: www.naturalcycles.com
The service is priced at £39.99 for a year long subscription, alongside the thermometer.

Read up more about what the NHS says about the service, and its drawbacks, here.

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56 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    August 2, 2017 / 2:14 pm

    The worst thing about these sorts of devices are that they tell you not to have sex when you're the most fertile, which are the days when you naturally will want more sex!

    • Hayley Carr
      August 2, 2017 / 2:45 pm

      Haha abstinence is a challenge eh! Although they don't say 'don't have sex' more 'use a condom too'.

  2. Anonymous
    August 2, 2017 / 2:17 pm

    Really well balanced post and much more responsibly written than a certain other Natural Cycles post that I've seen today..

    • Hayley Carr
      August 2, 2017 / 2:45 pm

      Thank you. I spent a long time doing my research and trying to understand the product, its claims and the background to the stats.

    • Anonymous
      August 2, 2017 / 4:08 pm

      It shows! The other post is worryingly a lot less fact-heavy

  3. Marmalade
    August 2, 2017 / 2:50 pm

    This is so well written Hayley and actually a fascinating read! Plus an important one given the conversation around this product!Mel x mediamarmalade.com

  4. Zita
    August 2, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    Thanks for this really informative and thought-provoking post. I saw their ads pop up on all forms of social media and at first I was quite frankly shocked. I work in the medical device industry (but I'm not a physician), and knowing how complex the approval is for the devices, and all related the marketing communications, I could not believe that they can legally use the claims they do, without any fine print or footnotes. Or at the very least an indication/contra-indication statement. They are promoting this as something uber-scientific and modern, but I bet that a lot our grandmothers used this same method (the thermometer, without the app).And I agree that I don't feel comfortable with the fact they are using influencers to promote the product. In a normal scenario, getting a key opinion leader's testimonial for a medical device endorsement is fair ground (with contracts in place and avoiding any conflict of interest), but bloggers influencers etc. are not experts on the subject of sexual health (unless it's their day job 🙂 ).I'm all for having options and potentially avoiding hormone-based contraception and its side effects, but as you mentioned this method is only suitable for a relatively small segment (even though it is marketed as a general solution), so this may not become the next big thing in contraception/family planning.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 2, 2017 / 4:53 pm

      Absolutely Zita – my objection is that not all the information is provided, either by the brand or influencers they're working with. I've seen a lot of ads for this and nowhere do they mention STI risk or the potential for unwanted pregnancies to still appear. It's a very dangerous way to operate in my opinion.

  5. Jaime
    August 2, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    Hayley this is a great read- fascinating and informative. As someone who is 6 months pregnant and spent a good year trying to get that way, I am especially leery of this. I spent every month for over a year monitoring my cycles with apps and ovulation tests to try and get pregnant. What most sexual ed courses, apps, and books DONT tell you is that sperm can hang around for a couple of DAYS looking for its end target, so you could have sex on a day that Natural Cycles says you are not fertile, only for your ovulation cycle to start sometime in the next couple of days and bingo! In fact, that is exactly how we finally conceived. There are other factors in play too – male sperm count and swim rate, and female cervical fluid viscosity and amount (I know I know, it's very TMI but Christ someone needs to talk about this stuff! I am 34 and had no idea until I wanted to get knocked up lol) . Also I have the worlds most regular cycle and still ovulated on a different day every month, as if Mother Nature was playing a cruel prank on me. So by my average calculations you would have to avoid sexual contact for 6-9 days in the middle of the month just to be sure (or obviously find another form). Anyways, food for thought from a pregnant lady who spent the better part of her life trying not to get pregnant, then finally trying TO GET pregnant 🙂

    • Hayley Carr
      August 2, 2017 / 4:54 pm

      That's an issue I've seen pop up a lot today – the lifespan of sperm. I'm not sure what their argument is about that at all! More research needed. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

  6. WhatCaraSaid
    August 2, 2017 / 3:06 pm

    Perfectly written Hayley! X

  7. Alice Red
    August 2, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    To answer the question in the title: no! I don't think it's for me, I'm just too paranoid to trust an app (or to trust myself to use it properly). But as you said, it could be good for those who can't use other contraception because of medical/religious reasons.alicered.co.uk

  8. The Makeup Feed
    August 2, 2017 / 3:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I think sex-education is extremely important and even though this method may not work for everyone, it is out there and works for some people. xx, The Makeup Feed

  9. Terri Lowe
    August 2, 2017 / 3:27 pm

    I think my issue with this app is that it's just marketing itself as something it doesn't need to be? It's great as a period tracker and if you WANT to get pregnant. But as a contraceptive app it just seems positioned incorrectly? If that makes sense.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 2, 2017 / 4:55 pm

      It's been 'tested' as a contraceptive app so that's how they can make those claims. And I can only assume there's more money in contraception than conception?!

  10. Abigail Alice x
    August 2, 2017 / 3:37 pm

    I'm so glad i found this post because ive been seeing some discussion of natural cycles on twitter and i was incredibly intrigued. I think i wouldnt mind relying on natural cycles as contraception but i would have to read more scientific studies into it to give me peace of mind. i'm at the point in my life where a pregnancy would not be disastrous to me or unwanted so if an accident did happen i wouldnt be upset about it! my implant is due to expire soon and i cant wait to get it out and try a different form of contraception so i will be considering this.Abigail Alice x

    • Hayley Carr
      August 2, 2017 / 4:57 pm

      I've linked to the articles above – but to be honest there's not much info available beyond what I've stated, which is a touch worrying too.

  11. Anonymous
    August 2, 2017 / 3:41 pm

    This app literally changed my life to the better and improved my relationship. I had tried so many forms of contraceptives before and suffered a great deal of pain and stress. So happy I found this app. Seems like many people feel the same way – just read their app reviews. Another important information though – you have to be 18 to register for Natural Cycles. If you are not 18 they tell you to find an alternative through your doctor.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 2, 2017 / 3:54 pm

      A good point Anon, but I can't help but read between the lines and think you have an association with the brand?! Forgive me if it's not the case, but the language you use and the fact you're anonymous makes me jump to that assumption.

    • Anonymous
      August 2, 2017 / 7:09 pm

      Definitely a comment from the brand!

  12. Kirsty Merrett
    August 2, 2017 / 3:45 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I'm so glad you did! I have one of the conditions where it wouldn't work for me and you are right, sexual health and pregnancy can't be treated lightly

  13. Sophie Bird
    August 2, 2017 / 4:04 pm

    This is an updated version of the Rhythm Method. In the early 90s my friend had an early electronic version of this method.She had to take her temperature in the morning and input the details into an electronic device. After a while it would know her cycle and ask her for readings less often. There would be a green light for go ahead and a red for stop. She never got pregnant but I don't think they had sex very often. They soon split up.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 2, 2017 / 4:57 pm

      I love how you ended that comment 😉

  14. Alison
    August 2, 2017 / 4:04 pm

    Using basal body temperature to calculate safe sex periods has been around for a long time. Personally, I wouldn't rely solely on it for prevention. Its more likely to result in the opposite happening. Too many variables can throw it off. But its interesting that an app has come out of it.

  15. annared
    August 2, 2017 / 4:07 pm

    Excellent post and much needed. I've seen this app popping up on instagrams and youtube and was really concerned about how inappropriate the endorsements have been. It's one thing to promote Glossier continuously until it seems to be the only skin care and makeup brand in existence but contraception? As you've mentioned there seems little thought about the other purposes of contraception and how important it is to take medically qualified and sound advice. I think Mary on AnotherGirl'sLife vlogged about Natural Cycles recently wondering what people thought and a fair few of her replies were along the lines of, yes I know people who use this form of birth control and they're called parents. I think it's great when people use their influencer status to promote positive health campaigns like breast examination and smear tests but this is incredibly irresponsible.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 2, 2017 / 4:58 pm

      I agree with you – it's an odd way to promote a contraceptive method. I wouldn't have such an issue if the posts were well researched and balanced, but most of what I've read is very flippant and so vague.

  16. Carries Closet
    August 2, 2017 / 5:23 pm

    I'm using a similar app to log my cycles as recently come off contraception pill but because I want to know about my body's natural cycle and because I want to get pregnant at some point in the next couple of years. I would never condone it as a contraception guide though. STIs are also high in the over 60s at the moment too as they aren't as clued up about contraception and moving on to new partners after divorce or being widowed. Interesting blog thanks.

  17. beautyqueenuk
    August 2, 2017 / 5:32 pm

    It has at least got people talking as you say about a subject very few have any knowledge of and that has to be a good thing. I agree the knowledge we had from Sex Ed classes was frankly appalling and we got to use a cucumber rather than a Banana which could have mentally scarred many minds!! I just don't know why we don't talk more openly about cycles and pregnancy, STI's and why to do if you want a baby and what not to do if you don't or might be in a pickle and need some further help and advice.

  18. BritishBeautyBlogger
    August 2, 2017 / 5:43 pm

    I think the problem with this campaign is that it has been treated rather flippantly when the subject itself is anything but. If ever there was a case for choosing your marketing wisely and investing in those that will put the time, effort and research into it rather than treating like the latest lipstick, it's this. There are so many important facts and points that need to be made coherently and intelligently and it doesn't look as though many were given the help or tools to treat it with the seriousness that it deserves. I love your comprehensive and well researched post which is exactly the kind of post that the brand should have been aiming for in the first place.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 3, 2017 / 8:11 am

      I don't think they were given the info – but it's also our responsibility, as influencers, to do our own research and provide all the information we can. (All it took me was a look on the website and a quick google.) I was so very disappointed with one post and blogger in particular, who I deemed to be responsible and ethical; I hope learnings from both sides come from this.

  19. The Bookish Reader
    August 2, 2017 / 6:27 pm

    I've been charting (taking temperature, noting discharge and cervical position) for around 3 years now. If anyone is interested in charting I recommend 'Taking Charge of Your Fertility' by Toni Weschler (first published in 1995). It is a highly accurate form of contraception if used correctly. It's easy to mis-read the signs at the beginning but it only took me a few months to get the hang of it. I recommend charting to anyone who will take it seriously and do it properly. You don't need an app to do it, you can download paper charts from Toni's website, all you need is a thermometer accurate to 2 decimal places (less than £10 on Amazon).

  20. Anonymous
    August 2, 2017 / 6:31 pm

    It's a retrospective study, so I wouldn't rely on it heavily. Plus, although their numbers look large, they weren't following the women for very long – just five or six months on average. I would suspect that the longer the app is used, the higher the failure rate as people tire of abstaining or using an alternate method on red days.

  21. Laura
    August 2, 2017 / 7:27 pm

    Thank you so much for writing such an informative post about this! I heard about the app a few months back and have been very intrigued by it as I'm keen to get off my hormonal contraception, but I'm also a bit worried about it not working. Mainly that I wouldn't remember to take my temperature regularly or wouldn't use it properly in some other way. I think I might give it a try in a year or so when I should be in a position in my life where getting pregnant wouldn't be such a disaster. But we'll see! Anyway, just wanted to say thanks again for writing this – I'm sure it was such a useful post for many others to read as well, especially as there is so much misinformation floating around the internet at the moment! xLaura // Middle of Adventure

    • Hayley Carr
      August 3, 2017 / 8:14 am

      The more I look into it the more I don't trust it – even in the instruction pack it says don't take your temperature if you've been ill, had a bad nights sleep or being out drinking! Too risky IMO, unless you're in a position to get pregnant!

  22. Trona S
    August 2, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    I once used an app something like this, it didn't have the thermometer but the rest is similar, I'm now a mum ;D

  23. Anca
    August 3, 2017 / 5:55 am

    I didn't study in Britain and trust me, the sex education that is done is school it's great because it is, other European countries don't have it at all. I was surprised, when I worked as a volunteer at an AIDS charity to see how many people in their 20s and 30s have no basic knowledge of their bodies. Anyway, going to the app, I would never use something like this, the risk is too high. I don't this should be considered as an alternative form of contraception for religious reasons. If it's a form of contraception, it shouldn't matter if it's a condom, pill or app. I'm not sure if they are promoting it like this or not.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 3, 2017 / 8:09 am

      Many people are prevented from using contraception on the basis of religion; from my understanding this includes religions such as Islam and Catholicism. They're not permitted to use condoms or the pill etc, so this may be their only option.

    • Anca
      August 3, 2017 / 10:14 am

      I know that some people are prevented to use contraception for religious reasons. I'm just saying that this should apply to any kind of contraception, regardless if it's condoms, pills or taking their temperature.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 3, 2017 / 6:41 pm

      I don't really understand the point you're trying to make? But thanks for taking the time to comment!

    • Anonymous
      August 4, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      I think they're saying that, as this is marketed as contraception, it still should not be considered appropriate for religious people who are not supposed to use contraception. But while the spirit of the religious rule is 'do not do anything to prevent conception', in reality people do use the rhythm method (and this kind of temperature-based method). Though honestly, relying on any 'historical' method is probably going to end in pregnancy. Look at family sizes before modern contraception was introduced…

    • Hayley Carr
      August 4, 2017 / 4:11 pm

      Ok that makes sense, thanks for clarifying! So from a religious pov you can't even abstain to prevent pregnancy, not just avoid the pill/condoms etc?

  24. Stacie Clark
    August 3, 2017 / 6:35 am

    Great well balanced post! I am actually a Natural Cycles users and personally I really love it – I find it fascinating tracking my cycle and how changes in body are syncing up with what the app is saying. That being said though, I refuse to have sex now without a condom though! There's still that "just in case" thought! I had been on the pill since I was 13 though (27) and felt like it was time to let my body have it's own hormones, and after trying another form of contraception once and it triggering a 2 year long depressive episode (have a history of mental health) I didn't want to go down that route again. I am enjoying it, and like I said I find it fascinating, but I'm not trusting it 100% just yet! I also wasn't aware of all their paid endorsement, however I did find them through a paid Facebook ad from them 🙈 xxx

    • Hayley Carr
      August 3, 2017 / 8:15 am

      My Insta and FB feed is full of paid ads – none of which effectively promote what it is or how it works, nor the potential drawbacks! But I hope it works for you… I think I'd double cover myself just in case too!

    • Victoria - Florence and Mary
      August 4, 2017 / 12:43 pm

      It's a shame that your post, so thorough and informative is more detailed than those have been paid for – and I suspect not what Natural Cycles would've agreed in their brief. I'd actually be more inclined to investigate Natural Cycles further if I was 'running out of options' for contraception based on this post than those suggesting I should!Victoria FlorenceandMary.com

    • Hayley Carr
      August 4, 2017 / 4:11 pm

      I've heard this a lot! That the content in my post should've been the type of content in their paid for advertorials…

  25. Anonymous
    August 6, 2017 / 8:02 pm

    *shrug* this method strikes me as nothing more than a middle class version of the rhythm method. I wouldn't use this, or recommend anyone else did, unless they want to get pregnant.

  26. lynn
    August 12, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    Natural Family planning (NFP) OR Fertility Awareness (FAM)* is NOT the rhythm method. A proper Fertility Awareness system involves taking temperature AND other signs daily. It can be just as effective as the pill. As for empirical evidence, the sympthothermal method (a method that involves taking one’s temperature AND observing cervical fluid) perfect use effectiveness has been found to be comparable to the pill:https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070221065200.htmhttp://www.factsaboutfertility.org/sexual-behavior-and-the-efficacy-of-the-sympto-thermal-method/There are many more studies out there on NFP’s effectiveness. This is just a sprinkling.However, what I find strange and troubling about this app is that it uses temperature only. Anyone who has used NFP or FAM will be aware that the temperature rise only happens *after* ovulation has occurred. So, how on earth can this app tell you that you are safe by temperature alone? Temperature is low until you ovulate, and unless this app can read the future how can it predict the day of the temperature rise? Hence, this app could be giving you the green light the day you ovulate! Knowing what I know from my 10 years of happy FAM use, I would say that this app uses past cycles to fairly accurately judge the five day fertile window, and then confirms ovulation *after* the temperature rise. Without using the other sign (cervical fluid) to cross-check though, I would not trust it. I also would not recommend it to anyone with very irregular cycles (those with more than a seven day variation in length between each cycle), or post pregnancy/breastfeeding/peri menopausal women. I would instead recommend Toni Weschler's Taking Charge of Your Fertility Book for detailed info on FAM.OTOH, the devil’s advocate part of me wonders about the fact that the side effects of hormonal methods are nicely suppressed and played down, while an app like this is pooh-poohed by the NHS. As I said, it’s not a perfect method of natural contraception, and I would not find it safe enough. However, a quick pubmed search will shed interesting light on side effects and even fatalities of hormonal methods, yet the NHS and other health organisations truly give the impression that an unplanned pregnancy is worse than most anything. Those who have lost their vibrant daughters to blood clots or cancer will surely disagree.https://www.hormonesmatter.com/five-half-truths-hormonal-contraceptives-pill-patch-ring/https://www.hormonesmatter.com/real-risk-birth-control-study-take-charge-find-answers/Just giving the flip side of the coin anyhow. I just discovered this blog from Hannah Gale’s link, and I love it! Feck the haters too. Bet none of them have a successful blog. ;)*FAM differs from NFP in that it allows for the use of barrier methods during the fertile phase.

  27. Kate
    August 3, 2018 / 4:07 pm

    I can see why people who have experienced problems with the pill and/or other forms of contraception might be drawn to this app, but unfortunately it carries significantly more risk than those methods. I agree that this should have been made clearer in some of the posts I've seen about it. It's too important an issue for the usual focus on beautiful marble bathrooms and a dressing gown off one shoulder. xKate Louise Blogs

    • Hayley Hall
      August 4, 2018 / 10:22 am

      My thoughts exactly – how it's been positioned in most cases is extremely worrying.

  28. Erin Russell
    August 3, 2018 / 6:08 pm

    As someone who got pregnant on the pill at age 20, I cannot tell you how angry this app being promoted to people makes me. It is designed for people who have had kids, in long term relationships, people who know their cycle VERY well, people who don't want to get pregnant, but it wouldn't ruin their life/college/relationship if they did. Their adverts on youtube anger me to no end, and the blog posts. AAAAAAAH NOOOOOOOOO. Just no. I cannot say no enough. Erin || MakeErinOver

    • Hayley Hall
      August 4, 2018 / 10:22 am

      Erin, this is exactly it – and that's been lost along the way in their influencer endorsements. It's not suitable to young girls just looking for a hormone free alternative.

    • Hayley Hall
      August 4, 2018 / 10:25 am

      Thanks Alisha x

  29. Pam Scalfi
    August 8, 2018 / 8:53 am

    I remember reading your original post, and thinking "yeah no thanks". I wasnt going to rely on a app, no matter how much I dislike the pill at the moment. So glad you are talking about it!!Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  30. Hayley Pemberton
    August 19, 2018 / 11:52 am

    as someone who got pregnant accidently when using a similar app it is not something i would rely on. at the time i got pregnant i shouldnt have been able to. definelty a lot of misdirection and misleading with this app

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