FDA Allows Controversial App to Be Marketed as Birth Control

The Food and Drug Administration is allowing a controversial app to be marketed as an effective form of birth control in the U.S. Natural Cycles uses the basal body temperatures of women and data from their menstrual cycles to predict which days they are the most fertile and the least fertile. The company claims this method is 93 percent effective. The app marks “red days” when women need to use a form of contraception, while “green days” are billed as days when it is safe for women to have unprotected sex without the risk of getting pregnant. “[T]his new app can provide an effective method of contraception if it’s used carefully and correctly,” said Terri Cornelison, assistant director for the health of women in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “But women should know that no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device.” About 600,000 women worldwide reportedly use the app, but cases in Europe and in the U.K. show it has resulted in many unwanted pregnancies. The Swedish Medical Products Agency found that out of 668 women who sought an abortion at a Swedish hospital over a period of four months, 37 percent of them had been using Natural Cycles as their primary form of contraception. Natural Cycles claimed that the pregnancies were within its “typical use efficacy rate.”