Wednesday, 21 March 2018
The female nuclear physicist who created a fertility app
Meet Elina Berglund: a nuclear physicist who will be known as the woman who developed the first natural cycle fertility app to have been internationally certified as an effective means of avoiding pregnancy.
“It feels incredibly exciting that there is now an approved alternative to conventional pregnancy prevention methods, and that it’s possible to replace medication with technology,” Berglund told Business Insider.
The app, called Natural Cycles, was founded in Switzerland by Elina Berglund and her husband Raoul Scherwizl. They created the app as a way to go “beyond contraception,” and to “get to know your body and unique cycles,” according to their website.
“At Natural Cycles, we are all about combining scientific research and mobile tech to empower every woman worldwide with knowledge about her body, menstrual cycle and fertility.”
The app works on a sympto-thermal based system. Using mathematics and advanced technology, the app tracks a woman’s recorded daily temperature through an algorithm which determines fertility, making it a competitive alternative to hormonal birth control and contraception for women who would otherwise use them.
This information allows women to know exactly where they are in their cycle, and even considers factors such as temperature fluctuations and cycle irregularities in order to make accurate predictions about ovulation.
While the Catholic Church teaches that the use of contraception is immoral, because it intentionally separates procreation from the sexual act, it does approve of fertility mapping methods like natural family planning. Though Berglund's app was developed to be used as a contraceptive, it can be used as a form of natural family planning.
Natural family planning methods, such as the Billings Method or Creighton Model, help women and families achieve pregnancy – or prevent pregnancy, if there is a just reason to avoid it – by tracking natural cycles, which is similar to the concept behind the Berglund's app.
Business Insider pointed to a clinical study which concluded that the Natural Cycles prevention method is as effective as the pill in spacing pregnancies – without the side effects.
However, getting to this point was not easy for Berglund and her husband. Not long after its founding, the Natural Cycles app began to receive severe investigatory restrictions from the Swedish Medicinal Products Agency.
Eventually, the app recently received official recognition and approval from Tüv Süd, a German inspection and certification agency.
In the future, Natural Cycles has big plans to make up for lost time: they are targeting the U.K. with a big marketing sweep, and have their eyes on the United States – if the app gets approved by the FDA.
The app currently has more than 150,000 users in over 160 countries around the world.