Clearing Up the Air about Natural Birth Control

So, for those of you that have been reading this blog for a while, and particularly if you’ve read this article, I’m going to sound a little repetitive here. We’ve said this many times before, but alas, it looks like I have to say it again.

The other day, we discovered an article on Bustle.com about our app. Getting covered on other sites is usually a great thing, but the title of this particular article (“Smartphone App Kindara can Help Aid in Both Pregnancy and Pregnancy Prevention, but We’re Sticking with the Pill”) burst that bubble pretty quickly. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to correct some errors in the article and set the record straight.

First and foremost, the author of the post writes:

“The Kindara app helps women track their natural fertility cycles. These types of trackers aren’t new — ovulation calculators have existed for years. But Kindara also hopes to help women get off of their hormonal birth control.”

Here’s what’s incorrect about this paragraph:

1. Kindara is not an ovulation calculator. If you’re trying to get pregnant, then you have access to an option fertility prediction feature that can help you to plan ahead for when you may be fertile. We acknowledge that the prediction is not always 100% accurate, and strongly recommend that women confirm their fertile days by tracking their basal body temperatures and cervical fluid each day. However if you are charting your fertility for birth control, then you do not have access to the prediction feature, specifically because it’s not always accurate. You have to learn to chart your signs each day, and you have to learn how to interpret your chart to know when you’re fertile, and when you’re not.

2. Kindara does not hope to get any woman off hormonal birth control, if she wants to use hormonal birth control. We advocate that all women use the method of birth control that’s best for them. For some women, this is the Pill. For others, hormonal birth control is not an option. We aim to provide education and spread awareness about the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) so that women know that the option exists, should they decide they don’t want to use hormonal BC.

Later, the author writes:

“The rationale behind the app, known as “fertility awareness,” is a relatively common birth control method… .This method hopes to prevent pregnancy by telling women when to abstain from sex. When conducted properly, fertility awareness has a pregnancy incidence rate between 1 and 9 percent. Add human error to the mix, like miscalculating or forgetting ovulation days, and that risk jumps to 25%.”

The statistics in the paragraph above are from the Brown University Health Education website. However on Brown’s website, there aren’t any sources backing the statistics up, so I don’t know where they were pulled from. However, dedicated studies on the Fertility Awareness Method have shown that FAM is over 99% effective – just as effective as the Pill.

FAM is based on science – after a woman ovulates, the egg can live for only 12-24 hours if fertilization does not occur. Sperm, on the other hand, can live for up to 5 days in fertile cervical fluid. The combined fertility of the male and female (and accounting for the possibility of multiple ovulation) means a woman can get pregnant during only 5-7 days each cycle. But, because it’s not possible to know when ovulation will occur until after it’s already happened, and because you need to wait a few days after ovulation to confirm that it actually occurred, the fertile window (where pregnancy may be possible) is longer, and the total length varies per woman, and per cycle. Again, only through tracking your fertility signs each day will you know when your fertile window is.

I admit the Fertility Awareness Method requires that you learn the method thoroughly and commit to tracking your signs each day. The bottom line is, the Fertility Awareness Method isn't for everyone. If you're happy with another method of birth control, that's great! But if not, we want you to know that another option exists. Whether you decide to use it is completely up to you :)

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