Birth Control App Malfunction Results in Unwanted Pregnancies

The Natural Cycles app, which monitors a woman’s menstrual cycle and also takes into account body temperature, previous cycles, and sperm survival rates, is a certified contraceptive in Europe. It predicts a woman’s most fertile time of the month using an algorithm. The app, which is marketed as a fertility tracker in the United States, is used by about 700,000 women around the world. The app has gained popularity among women who want options that do not involve hormonal or invasive birth control.

But a Swedish hospital, Södersjukhuset, has reported the app to a government agency that regulates medical devices, after 37 women sought abortions after getting pregnant while using the app for contraceptive purposes.

According to CNN, the company behind the app said that unplanned pregnancies were inevitable, especially as the number of women who use the technology increases. “No contraception is 100% effective, and unwanted pregnancies is an unfortunate risk with any contraception,” the company said in a statement. “At first sight, the numbers mentioned in the media are not surprising given the popularity of the app and in line with our efficacy rates.”

On the company’s website, Natural Cycles says that about 1 in 100 women who use the app for a year will become pregnant. This is comparable to the 99 percent efficacy rate of oral contraception. But given the recent complaint by Södersjukhuset, the company is conducting an internal investigation.