A few months ago my social media feeds were filled with people raving about a great new app that helped track your fertility cycle, and therefore could be used as a method of contraception. This isn’t a sponsored post, I was just interested in trying it.
Like a lot of us, I was on the pill pretty much constantly from 15 to just before I had Elle. I’ve tried what feels like hundreds and hundreds and never found one that seemed to work for me. Going back on the pill after having Elle was the nail in the coffin for my relationship with it as my hormones went so wild I’m certain the pill contributed to my fragile mental health post baby. So being able to monitor my fertility using an app, rather than adding hormones to my body felt like a really refreshing alternative.
You can read all about the reliability of using Natural Cycles on their website. For me, the fact that it’s backed by clinical research and has been certified in Europe as a medical device intended to be used for contraception made me feel like I could trust it. Using a double decimal thermometer you are sent when you purchase the app, you simply measure your temperature each morning and tap it into your phone. I wouldn’t usually put my fertility in the hands of a tech company like Parsed, offering iphone app development services is quite different than fertility services but this is kind of like a hybrid between ancient knowledge of the feminine system and modern technology. With all the issues with hormones I’ve had, I welcome the change. If you’re fertile then the app tells you that you must use other methods of protection if you intend on having sex. If you’re not fertile – then that means you can have sex without using another method of contraception and you won’t get pregnant. This is much more clearly communicated via the app’s GREEN and RED days.
For some, this is a sticking point and they feel that because you have to use alternative methods of contraception on red days, the app shouldn’t really be classed as a contraceptive.
In terms of functionality the app is actually really great. I was unsure about whether I’d enjoy using it or not, as I’m not a numbers person, but the fact that it’s YOUR data makes it kind of fun. You’re supposed to measure your temperature each morning at the same time before you get out of bed. It even sends you encouraging messages, telling you you’re doing a great job – which lets face it, as a parent, I’m going to revel in this kind of praise wherever I can (HAHA). It also allows you to indicate whether you’re ill or hungover, essentially anything that may be a reason for an unusual temperature reading. Plus you can add whether you have any spotting or your period.
The app is clever in that you can switch over from ‘preventing a pregnancy’ to ‘trying for a baby’ which allows you to make the most of those fertile days.
My favourite feature however, is the fact that the thermometer stores your last reading so that the next time you turn it on, you can still add it to the app. This is great if you’re really not a morning person and the thought of reading numbers and tapping them into your phone as you wake up fills you with dread. I tend to add mine once I’ve had my fifth cup of tea of a morning.
So far, I’ve been tracking my cycle for just over a month. It’s been a little rocky as this last month has involved a hideous sickness bug (higher temp than normal), a broken phone which meant access to the app was tricky for a few days, and a camping holiday with no wifi which resulted in me having to write down a weeks worth of readings. Luckily the app allows you to add backdated readings.
There have been lots of red days, so in terms of changing our contraceptive habits (is that a phrase?! I’m going with it…) nothing much has happened. The app is also asking me to purchase an ovulation testing kit which I thought was a little sneaky. I’d rather this was included in the first place, along with the app and the thermometer. (I paid £39 for the app and the thermometer which I didn’t think was too bad for a years subscription. And would have paid a little more for the ovulation kit to be included).
Would I recommend it? Well so far, yes in terms of functionality and understanding your cycle. But I’m going to give it another couple of months before I can recommend it as a contraceptive tool. What do you think lovely RMF readers? Has anyone else tried the Natural Cycles app? Or does the thought of leaving your contraception to technology freak you out? I’d love to know!