Inaccurate contraceptive app cause 37 unwanted pregnancies

Inaccurate contraceptive app cause 37 unwanted pregnancies

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Natural Cycles app is designed to show the woman's unresponsive days - apparently inaccurate

At least 37 women who used the Natural Cycles contraception app became pregnant within three months. This was reported by the Swedish public television broadcaster “SVT”. The idea of ​​the app is to recognize days of the menstrual cycle on which a woman cannot get pregnant. But apparently this method doesn't seem to work very well. The app is now being reported to the Swedish Medicines Agency.

The app is based on the method of contraception, in which the woman measures her body temperature every morning after waking up, since the temperature rises by about half a degree after ovulation. The woman then enters the temperature value in the cycle app. This data can be used to theoretically determine the days on which unprotected sex is possible without becoming pregnant.

37 reported unwanted pregnancies

The 37 unwanted pregnancies were reported because these women were seeking abortions in Stockholm's largest hospital, Södersjukhuset. The number of unreported cases is likely to be even greater. All affected women used the "Natural Cycles" app for contraception.

"It is a new method and we are seeing a number of unwanted pregnancies, so we report it to the Medical Products Agency," Carina Montin, spokeswoman for Södersjukhuset Hospital, told Swedish broadcaster SVT. The Swedish Medicines Agency is now starting a study on natural cycles.

App is approved according to EU law

The app is not approved by the "Medical Products Agency" in Sweden, but has been certified according to the EU legal framework for medical devices. The app has become known in particular because it advertises itself as a hormone-free alternative to the birth control pill, namely “Free from side effects”. The algorithm used was even checked by the TÜV.

The app operator responds

In a written reply to the broadcaster SVT, the app operator comments: "No contraception is 100 percent effective and unwanted pregnancies are unfortunately a risk for all contraceptives." Natural Cycles has a pearl index of seven, which means an efficiency of 93 percent that will also be communicated. In plain language, this means that out of a hundred women who use the app for one year as the only method of contraception, seven will still get pregnant.

The company shares the view that the app is not a suitable protection for young people, but points out that most users are in their thirties.

Red and green days

The operator of "Natural Cycles" advertises simple handling. A distinction is made between red and green days in the app. "Can I have sex without protection? Yes, on a green day. You cannot get pregnant at this time because you are not fertile, ”the operator defines the rules of the app.

The app is based on a unique algorithm that takes temperature and many other factors such as sperm survival, temperature fluctuations and cycle irregularities into account.

The app is popular worldwide

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, around 600,000 women worldwide should observe their cycle using “natural cycles”. The algorithm used to calculate fertility was checked for technical functionality by the TÜV. Of course, this makes the app appear to inspire confidence.

There has been criticism of the temperature method for a long time

The app is a further development of the temperature method, which has long been criticized for its inaccuracy. Infections, fever, alcohol consumption, jet lag, lack of sleep, shift work or interrupted sleep can lead to fluctuations in body temperature and thus falsify the measurement results. (vb)

Author and source information

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