Sad girl and phone
(Credit: iStockphoto/NelliSyr)

The app Natural Cycles is under fire after its advertised claims of being effective contraception fell short.

After 37 women sought abortion in Sweden after using Natural Cycles as pregnancy prevention, the Medical Products Agency stepped in. The Advertising Standards Authority is investigating the app's Facebook advertisements.

Natural Cycles claims to be a certified contraceptive app. But by who? Can there be such a thing? Natural Cycles took to their blog to defend themselves earlier this year.

"An unintended pregnancy is very unfortunate, and we care deeply each time someone that uses Natural Cycles as a contraception becomes pregnant. However, no contraception is 100% effective and unintended pregnancies are an unfortunate risk with any contraception," the blog post stated.

This is not what was advertised.

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On the surface, the app sounds like a dream--not having to take the pill and deal with a roller coaster of side effects. App users monitor their fertility by taking their temperature every morning. The app delivers a message of "Use protection" (red days) or "Not fertile" (green days).

The app is not exactly cheap, as a year's subscription totals US $79.99. First time users can access a month for free and then pay US $9.99 monthly otherwise. The necessary items include the app and a basal thermometer (included in your order). The instructions are complicated with a detailed diagram about when, how and how not to take your temperature, which is apparently accurate down to two decimal points.

The app's creators, physicists Elina Berglund and Raoul Scherwitzl, claimed to have studied more than 4000 women between 25 and 30. The women who used the app found it just as effective as the pill. The couple originally designed the app for their own purposes but decided it was too important not to share. The pair says the app is the perfect mix of mathematics and data analysis.

Olivia Sudjic disagrees.

"I was sold on shiny promises, a sleek user interface and the fact that a former Cern physicist, Elina Berglund, was at the company's helm. But four months in, it failed. Berglund helped discover the Higgs boson; but it turns out her algorithm couldn't map my menstrual cycle," Sudjic told The Guardian.

Berglund told The Guardian in 2016 her ideal candidate for the app was a woman who wanted children someday and just needed a break from the pill, not one who doesn't want children. It's an article, Sudjic said, she wishes she would've known about before she started using the app.

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Takeaways

  1. The Natural Cycles contraceptive app claimed to be as effective as the pill, yet is under investigation for false advertising on Facebook.
  2. While the app was designed by physicists, a number of women in Sweden were unhappy when they became pregnant.
Pregnancy test
(Credit: iStockphoto/highmagazin)

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for Download.com.