The world’s first and only digital birth control

Photograph of multiple packets of pills
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch

By Jasmine Lowen-Hill
Sub-edited by Jasmine Wing

Natural Cycles was hailed as a revelation when it came out – saving hundreds of thousands of women the hassle of doctor’s appointments and waiting lists for pill prescriptions or implants.

And the premise behind is logical. In return for a £60 subscription, you get access to an app and a thermometer accurate to two decimal places. Input your temperature as soon as you wake up and get predictions as to when you are ovulating and most likely to get pregnant, and when it is probably safe to have unprotected sex.

No form of contraception is 100% effective. With perfect usage – that is, by a woman in her twenties with regular menstrual cycles, a routine lifestyle and a stable partner – Natural Cycles is 99% effective, just as good as condoms, but also allowing the user to get to know their body and, when they are ready, to plan their pregnancies too.

However, not every user of Natural Cycles is a perfect one, and with normal usage, this contraceptive method is only 93% effective. That’s still fine, but this method of contraception can be pricy, and if it isn’t as reliable as it says on the tin, then what are your alternatives?

Of course, the traditional contraceptives such as condoms, birth control pills and implants will always be the most effective. But if you are interested in using your cycles to predict your ovulation, or ‘no-no’ days, then you can just use your favourite period tracker app.

Flo is a popular menstrual tracker – but it is even better at predicting ovulation because it uses not only your period dates but also your symptoms to make accurate guesses. You can log your basal temperature here too if you would like to increase the accuracy, but this is without the subscription, so all you would have to purchase if you did that is a thermometer.

It is also great because it gives you a vast berth of ten days on which you are likely to get pregnant – therefore the risks are relatively low, and by taking your own measures – such as leaving an extra few days at the beginning and end of your predicted ovulation, then this should, in theory, work perfectly.

This is, of course still dependent on how regular your cycles are, and it is the current medical advice to avoid using digital birth control methods if getting pregnant within the next year would devastate you.

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