Using The Natural Cycles App As A Contraceptive

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. 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!

mm
Fern lives by the sea with her baby girl Elle, her partner Matt and their little dog Drake. They spend most of their time at the beach, and if you see one of them, usually the other three aren’t far behind.

25 Comments. Leave new

Hi!
I’m definitely interested! Coming off the pill to conceive was quite liberating and I’ve found that I now don’t have the inclination to arrange a pharmaceutical contraceptive.
I’ve downloaded the app for the free trial just to have a gander. X

Reply

Hi Charlie, definitely have a look and let me know what you think. It’s not a quick change as it takes time for the app to really understand your cycle, but I’m hoping the dedication is worth it!!! xxx

Reply

I haven’t tried this app but I did track my temperature before conceiving my first child. My period were irregular but I wanted to see if there was a pattern to when I ovulated.

It sounds like there’s lots of science behind this, but a couple of questions I’d have are, firstly, but your temperature rises after an egg is released and as sperm can survive inside you for up to a week, isn’t there a risk that you could still fall pregnant by some rogue sperm lying in wait?

Also, drinking alcohol can affect your temperature and give an incorrect reading and you also have to be quite religious about taking your temperature at the same time; does this App account for these too? It would be great if it did as I definitely do not want more children but am struggling to get my husband to agree to a vasectomy!

Reply

I read this on their website, if that helps:
” Tap ‘Skip today’ or ‘Deviating temp’ in the add data view when you feel sick, hungover or have slept 2 hours more or less than usual.”

Reply

Hi Cat, as Ann-Marie says the app accounts for deviating temperatures which is really useful. On the sperm survival thing, I’m sure this must have been considered in the research – I’ll have another read of the paper and see what I can find xx

Reply

Hi Cat, here’s the link to the info on their website about considering sperm survival http://ask.naturalcycles.com/customer/portal/articles/2002645 xxx

Reply

I have been reading into this as interested in using it. However sperm can survive up to a week and my daughter was conceived 12 day she after sex, his swimmers must be determined 😂 So after knowing that information from my doctor that most sperm survive a week but some don’t I have decided not to take the risk as defiantly don’t want number three at the moment!

Reply

Oh gosh Jill what persistent little blighters 😉 Cat has mentioned this above, and it’s made me want to go and read the science paper again…I can’t believe that they wouldn’t have considered this xxx

Reply

They must have surely considered it….worried I’ve given the wrong number of days but checked with my friend who works with families trying to conceive with IVF and confirms it can happen. It’s not common but not unheard of for them to survive so long. Don’t want to have to take hormones though so still intrigued by it as a few bloggers are talking about it at the moment.

Reply

I’ve linked to the info on their website about this in a comment to Cat above Jill, it’s definitely interesting and something I’m going to stick with I think 🙂

Reply

I’m so doing this – thanks for doing this write up Fern! I absolutely hate the Pill and haven’t gone back on it since my son was born. I feel like I’m now so much more aware of what my body is doing ever since he came along (I’ve paid a lot more attention to mybody since I’ve been pregnant / given birth – you realise what it’s capable of and that you should take care of it…!) so this sounds ideal. 🙂

Reply

Kate I think you’d really like it. Definitely give it a go 🙂 Totally agree on the body thing, I’ve really enjoyed understanding what my body is doing xxx

Reply

Oh interesting I also signed up to this a few months ago. I have only been using it for a few months so I am not 100% trusting it but for the first month it was all red days because it needed to get to know my pattern. Also I read that it may even be on the NHS as a form of contraception so it must be prettt accurate.
I have had the implant for a long time and although I am not quite ready for a baby I decided that I didn’t want fake hormones in my body and wanted to know what was normal for me. What was side effects and what was just me.
So far it has been unbelievably accurate, predicting the exact day I start my period, which I didn’t expect straight away as I thought I had an irregular cycle but it knows all things! 😊

I would totally recommend it. But with all forms of contraception if you are having sex there is a risk and you have to be prepared for that. The statistics of people getting pregnant whilst on the pill are outstanding! So many people don’t realise if you are sick ect that the pill can lose its effectiveness. At least with natural cycles it’s my body and my choice, I feel like I know more about myself. For me right now it feels like the right choice.

Reply

Glad to hear you’re having a positive experience using it Stef. I think I need another couple of months under my belt. I was shocked at how little I actually knew about my own cycle before I used this xxx

Reply

Hmm I have to say I would be pretty unsure about this. I think it sounds great as a fertility tracker, but as a contraceptive I would caution as others have that sperm can live rather a long time… Also, I would be worried that the data might be sold on, cue lots of fertility adverts etc on Facebook or wherever. I’m always very cautious about data being stored on an app. I’m sure they have very solid privacy rules in place but still something I would want to read into much more first.

Reply

Hi Annie, I will extract the research about the longevity of sperm ASAP, it’s on my list of jobs for today 🙂 Actually the data thing isn’t something that bothers me, I much prefer myself and my mental health when I’m not on the pill and so this app feels very freeing for me. I suppose it’s a price I’m willing to pay, but it’s definitely not for everyone xxx

Reply

I’m really intrigued too. I’m so much happier and easier to live with off the pill, and have been using barrier methods only since 2011. Three periods of trying, three pregnancies, two babies. Very lucky. But it seems expensive (but that’s made me wonder how much I spend on condoms annually hmmm) and I’m not sure I could persuade my husband that it is reliable.

But great to see innovation and conversations about the pill and its patriarchal problems. Side effects that caused the trial of a male version to be cancelled dismissed out of hand etc..

Reply

Absolutely agree it’s great to see more options out there, this one still involves complete female dedication 😉 but heyho it’s a start as it’s side effect free. If you do give it a whirl let me know xxx

Reply

I started using this about 3 months ago Fern. I think its great, I still have a lot of red days but I think thats just for the first few months of it trying to work out your cycle. It suggested that I use the ovulation kits too which I have (but ones I got from amazon) but now it sent me a message to not bother until instructed now (very firm!) as it will take a while to sort it out. I am up for any contraception that doesnt involve hormones/putting weird things permanently in your body that don’t belong there, so I am hoping in a few months time it will be really accurate and lots of green days! 😉

Reply

Oh that’s interesting Vanessa, maybe depending on the result it needs time to see if you’re ovulating a few days before or after it thought you were? Hope that makes sense, it did in my head! Here’s to lots of green days for all of us 🙂

Reply

I am so interested in this too and was just reading about it a few weeks ago. I’m not married yet and don’t want a baby until after that so we’re talking a good 2-3 years away. However I feel like I don’t want to take the pill anymore, it’s been 15 years. I also think it has seriously dampened my libido. I would love to try coming off it but not sure if I am convinced this app is accurate enough just yet? Does it give any advice on switching from the pill? Do you need to have a natural cycle first?

Reply

Hi Bunny, the advice if you’re on the pill is to wait a week before you start. I actually think once you stop taking the pill your cycle returns to normal much quicker than you think. It feels like there’s a myth in the air that it takes years, but I really don’t think that’s the truth. This is all from personal/friends experience however, so not remotely backed up by Science!!! I had horrible side effects with the pill so I can totally empathise. I definitely think it’s one to start with caution, but it has all of the medical backing to be used as a safe and certified from of contraception xxx

Reply

I started using Natural Cycles about 5 months ago, saw all the adverts on my social media and decided to give it a go as an alternative to the pill, I think I had always got on with the pill as I didn’t think it affected me too terribly. I just didn’t like the idea of loading my body with hormones.

Initially I had so many red days and fluctuating temperature that I thought i would give up on it. But eventually I got into the rhythm of taking my temperature as soon as my alarm goes off. Once it works out your cycle you get loads more green days, I too take my temperature turn the thermometer off and input the data once I’ve showered and am feeling a bit more human!

As it happens we started trying for a baby last month so I changed the settings and instead was told of my more fertile days, and then as luck would have it today I’ve changed my settings *once again* to ‘preggo cycler’

Reply
Catherine O'Brien
19th September 2017 9:30 am

Just another word of caution! I’m a big fan of cycle tracking and was using an app and carefully doing this after my son was born … lo and behold I conceived again just 3 months later during my ‘non-fertile’ days! So I’m currently 6 months pregnant with a 9 month old crawling around. It’s all very exciting but do be careful with cycle tracking apps if you absolutely don’t want to get pregnant. I’m an endocrinologist (essentially a hormone doctor) so like to think I am pretty clued in when it comes to ovulation/cycle timing etc., but I am proof that sometimes life has other ideas! So I would happily use as a guide, but not trust any app or cycle tracking 100%.

Reply
Louise Charlotte
10th November 2017 10:58 pm

I am on cycle two and love this app 🙂 you can get the ovulation tests at boots super cheap – I got 5 for £4.50, boots own ones and they worked perfectly! I’ve lost weight, my skin has cleared up and my anxiety is gone! Best decision I’ve ever made.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *