FDA approves new form of digital birth control

Women can swap their birth control for an app


Courtesy of Natural Cycles

Promotional image of Natural Cycle’s birth control app.

Francina Sanchez

Women seeking a natural method of anti-contraceptives may have a solution after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an app to track a woman’s fertility last month.

Natural Cycles is a smartphone app designed to track a woman’s fertility by logging her body temperature to determine when she is fertile. The app also will log information of a woman’s menstrual cycle through a smart algorithm.

Natural Cycles said the algorithm is considered smart because it is continuously learning from its user’s input and adjusts to her menstrual cycle patterns.

According to Natural Cycles’ website, the method is 93 percent effective when women take their temperature at the same time every day. Natural Cycles said the data includes human error and is a reliable and effective method. According to their website, human error includes women having unprotected sex on a day the app tells them they are fertile or not logging their personal information accurately.

Information from the Natural Cycles website

Francina Sanchez -The State Hornet


In the app store, Natural Cycles currently has a rating of 4.8 stars with more than 2,000 user ratings. 

According to the FDA web page on birth control, less than one out of 100 women get pregnant by other methods such as an intrauterine device (IUD), implantation rod and contraception injections compared to the seven on a natural method.

“For people that don’t like taking pills or messing with their system, it could be a good alternative,” said Sacramento State student Noor Masarweh.

Women 18-years-old or older can sign up for the app directly from the Natural Cycles’ website. The app costs $79.99 for a year subscription and includes an oral basal thermometer. The other options are $9.99 a month or a free one-time month trial.

Sac State student Nancy Huynh says the app compared to most widely-used birth control wouldn’t be worth the money it costs.

“We don’t need this app because birth control is cheaper than $80 a year,” said Sac State student Nancy Huynh.  

In the U.S., under the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s health care law, any FDA-approved birth control should be available at no cost, but it is uncertain if the price of the app will be covered.

“If people do decide to use the app, I do think that it should be covered by insurance, even if it’s a more expensive option and kind of impractical,” Huynh said.

Birth control and emergency contraceptives are provided at the Student Health & Counseling Services (SHCS) at The WELL at Sac State, according to the SHCS website. It is unclear if students will have the option to get this method of birth control covered on campus.

According to the SHCS website, although many services are free of charge, it is not a health care plan for students and there is always the possibility of charged fees.

As of now, Natural Cycles does not have any information on health insurance coverage or reimbursement plans for the women who purchase the app.

“As a college student, I personally wouldn’t want to do it because I don’t have extra money to spare like that when I can just have regular birth control,” Masarweh said.

Sac State’s Health Services Administration Office said there were too many unknowns on the topic and did not want to make any further comments on the matter.