1st app using 'rhythm method' for contraception wins EU approval

The European Union approved the first mobile app designed for contraception, NPR reports.

The Natural Cycles app aims to prevent pregnancy by evaluating a woman's daily temperature and menstruation data. The app — which uses this information to calculate which days a woman is at a high or low risk of pregnancy — alerts users to avoid intercourse or use a separate method of birth control on high risk days.

Elina Berglund, PhD, a particle physicist who helped discover the Higgs boson particle, launched the app with her husband in 2014. She told NPR developing the mathematically-driven app dovetailed with her background. "Instead of looking for the Higgs particle, you're looking at women's temperatures and fertility data, which is a lot of fun," she said.

The app is not as effective as other forms of birth control, NPR notes. A clinical study of 4,000 women found it boasted a 93 percent success rate; by contrast, intrauterine devices are nearly 100 percent effective. However, Natural Cycles is more effective than the traditional rhythm or calendar method, which only boasts a 76 percent success rate.

The Natural Cycles app, which costs roughly $10 per month, currently has more than 300,000 users, most of whom live in northern Europe.

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