Natural Cycles is an alternative to hormone containing birth control in the form of an app. It requires women to take their temperature every day using a basal body thermometer and to enter the reading into the app, which also tracks a user’s menstrual cycle. However their advertising has come under fire as users say their claims of ‘99% effectiveness’ and ‘clinically tested alternative birth control’ are misleading.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has now banned an advert on Facebook and has warned Natural Cycles ‘not to exaggerate its efficacy’.
The ad in question was a paid-for post on Facebook which stated “Natural Cycles is a highly accurate, certified, contraceptive app that adapts to every woman’s unique menstrual cycle. Sign up to get to know your body and prevent pregnancies naturally”. A video below the text said “Natural Cycles officially offers a new, clinically tested alternative to birth control methods”. The advertisement will not be allowed to go onto Facebook again with it’s current wording.
The review of the app found that there was a difference between typical use of the app and it being used perfectly. The ASA felt that figures presented to users such as the 99% effectiveness were based on the perfect user and not a typical user therefore for the latter, the system may not be described as highly accurate. The effectiveness of the app is more likely to be 93% when used in typical circumstances.
A non-hormonal contraceptive is clearly a popular idea, since its launch in 2014, the app now has more than 300,000 users who pay a monthly or annual fee for the service.
The app is also being investigated by Sweden’s Medical Products Agency (MPA) after it received 60 complaints relating to unwanted pregnancies as a result of using the app
The app is advertising on Facebook again with the new 93% figure.
Natural Cycles told the BBC, “We are committed to being open and transparent in our communications to ensure our message is clear and provides women with the information they need to determine if Natural Cycles is right for them. As part of these efforts, every advertisement undergoes a strict approval process. Natural Cycles has been independently evaluated and cleared by regulators in Europe and the US based on clinical evidence demonstrating its effectiveness as a method of contraception.”