An app for that

Scientist develops app that might replace the pill

Contraceptive pills (PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Elina Berglund Scherwitzl, a Swedish scientist with a Ph.D. in particle physics who was part of the CERN team that discovered the Higgs bosom, has developed an app which helps prevent and plan pregnancies. She developed the app, Natural Cycles, to monitor her own fertility using  a sensitive thermometer and a sophisticated algorithm to help predict women’s menstrual cycles. Women are asked to take their temperature in the morning and input that info into the app — which can then map and predict her ovulation, alerting her in real-time when she enters the five days before ovulation (when she is at risk of getting pregnant). Berglund originally developed the algorithm for herself, being fed up with only being able to use hormonal contraception. It worked so well for herself and some of her colleagues, that she decided to develop it further, and hired a team of medical researchers. A recent clinical study by the company shows that — when used correctly — the app can be as efficient as the pill in planning or preventing pregnancies. However, women are obviously not protected during “fertile days,” so it cannot entirely replace contraception in that sense. In Sweden, the app is therefore marketed as a “fertility monitoring device” which “can be used to avoid pregnancies.”

“I’m still surprised that there hasn’t been such a product before,” Berglund says. “I have been thinking about this since I was a teenager, because I didn’t feel well from taking the pill.” She claims that her app is a more “equal” form of birth-control, as the burden with regular contraception lies very much on the woman. Her app, she says is “more of a couple’s thing – the woman measures her temperature and the man sometimes has to wear a condom.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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