Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra Users Can Now Use Natural Cycles as Birth Control

Natural Cycles is a digital birth control app that uses an algorithm to predict the user’s fertility status based on their basal body temperature. The app requires the user to input their temperature data every morning, either manually with a basal thermometer or automatically with a compatible wearable device. Natural Cycles is the only cycle-tracking app that has been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as birth control.

How does the Apple Watch integration work?

The Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra models, as well as the new Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches, come with temperature sensors that can measure subtle changes in the user’s body temperature during the menstrual cycle. These sensors can also provide ovulation estimates based on the user’s temperature data. The Apple Watch integration allows Natural Cycles users to import their temperature data from the watch to the app, without having to take their temperature manually every morning. This makes the process more convenient and seamless for the user.

Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra Users Can Now Use Natural Cycles as Birth Control
Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra Users Can Now Use Natural Cycles as Birth Control

Why is this a big deal?

The Apple Watch integration is a big deal for several reasons. First, it shows that Natural Cycles is expanding its reach and compatibility with popular wearables that have advanced health-tracking features. The Apple Watch is one of the most widely used smartwatches in the world, with a global market share of about 30 percent in 2022. By integrating with the Apple Watch, Natural Cycles can potentially attract more users who already own or plan to buy an Apple Watch.

Second, it demonstrates that Natural Cycles is committed to providing accurate and reliable data for its users. The Apple Watch has two temperature sensors, one under the display and one closer to the skin, that can measure both ambient and body temperature to eliminate environmental bias. This can improve the accuracy of the temperature readings and reduce the risk of false positives or negatives in the fertility predictions.

Third, it reflects that Natural Cycles is following the latest trends and innovations in reproductive health tracking. Wearable temperature data is becoming more popular and accessible as a way to monitor one’s fertility status and plan pregnancies. Natural Cycles was one of the first apps to pursue this technology back in 2020, and has since received FDA clearance for two wearable integrations: the Oura Ring in 2021 and the Apple Watch in 2023.

What are the benefits and limitations of Natural Cycles?

Natural Cycles has several benefits and limitations as a digital birth control method. Some of the benefits are:

  • It is non-invasive and hormone-free, which means it does not have any side effects or interfere with the user’s natural cycle.
  • It is empowering and educational, as it allows the user to learn more about their body and cycle, and make informed decisions about their reproductive health.
  • It is environmentally friendly and sustainable, as it does not produce any waste or require any disposable products.

Some of the limitations are:

  • It requires consistent and accurate temperature measurements every morning, which can be challenging for some users who have irregular schedules or sleep patterns.
  • It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which means the user still needs to use condoms or other barrier methods if they want to prevent STIs.
  • It has a typical use failure rate of 6.9 percent, which means that out of 100 women who use Natural Cycles for one year, seven will get pregnant due to incorrect or inconsistent use of the app.

What are some important things to keep in mind?

While the Apple Watch integration is a welcome addition for Natural Cycles users, there are some important things to keep in mind before using it as a birth control method. Some of them are:

  • The integration only works with certain models of the Apple Watch: Series 8, 9, Ultra, and Ultra 2. Older models or SE models do not have temperature sensors and are not compatible with Natural Cycles.
  • The integration does not mean that the Apple Watch or its cycle-tracking feature in the Health app can be used as birth control on their own. The Apple Watch only provides temperature data that is fed into the Natural Cycles algorithm, which then determines the user’s fertility status. The user still needs to follow the instructions and recommendations from the Natural Cycles app.
  • The integration is not a substitute for medical advice or consultation. The user should always consult their doctor before starting or stopping any birth control method, and inform them of any changes in their health or cycle. The user should also seek medical attention if they experience any symptoms or complications related to their reproductive health.

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