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The rise of fertility apps highlights serious issues with contraceptives today

The rise of fertility apps highlights serious issues with contraceptives today

Many women have made a dramatic change in their use of contraceptives of late. Specifically, use of “contraceptive apps” such as Natural Cycles, a smartphone app that predicts the days on which a woman is fertile and can be used for contraception (as well as planning pregnancy), is on the rise.

By closely tracking a woman’s cycle and temperature, such apps designate unprotected sex safe or unsafe each day. When unsafe, the use of barrier methods of protection is advised.

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Natural Cycles was developed by CERN scientist Elina Berglund and her husband, Raoul Scherwitzl, whose scientific background has lent the app a certain kudos. And as “the only app certified for contraception” in Europe and, as of August 10, the US, women who might otherwise be suspicious of the method, which is at the end of the day simply jazzed up natural family planning, have taken the plunge.

The fact that many women are spurning more “medical” kinds of contraception, such as the pill or IUD, in favor of such apps, along with discussion in some cases of their failures, are once again drawing public attention to the hazards of being a pre-menopausal, heterosexual, sexually active woman.

The risks of contraceptives range from milder side effects to rare but potentially serious complications. These, of course, come alongside the ever present risk of unintended pregnancy through contraceptive failure.