We hear it a lot. “How is tracking my period going to prevent pregnancy?” Or, “Oh, that’s nice, you guys have developed a period tracker, I use something similar.”
But behind every single Cycle Technologies contraceptive product are four defining principles that make it more than just another period tracker or fertility app. Here’s what they are:
A lot has changed in the past 50 years. Technology, for instance, has advanced rapidly, but contraceptive products haven’t.
Take just the traditional birth control pill. Different versions of the pill get tweaked here and there, but they’re very much the same product as they were 50+ years ago.
Many contraceptive products - the pill, IUDs, the shot - are made by pharmaceutical companies who focus on the needs of healthcare providers, sometimes more than the needs of the end users.
While these products are a good option for many women, there are also a lot of women who want something else – ideally something without side effects.* Women need innovative contraception designed with their needs, not just a healthcare provider’s needs, in mind first and foremost.
Cycle Technologies uses advances in technology to design options that address women's unmet contraceptive needs. Our technologies our for women who want to have control over their bodies, who don’t necessarily want to use hormonal contraception and who may also be facing other challenges - costs, access, and cultural or individual barriers.
We are firm believers in the power of simplicity. When it comes to product design and user experience, simplicity is key.
This is especially true when it comes to birth control solutions.
If they aren’t simple, people won’t use them correctly, will need training to use them correctly, or won’t use them at all, because they don’t want to deal with the hassle.
When we launched our first fertility awareness product – CycleBeads - back in 2002, it was because there was a void. Globally, very few women were using a modern fertility awareness method (FAM) despite interest and demand.
Why? Because existing FAM methods were difficult to teach and to use. They required extensive counseling as well as daily charting, temperature taking, and/or checking for other fertility signs. It was not possible for these methods to be offered, much less used, widely in most settings.
Since the launch of CycleBeads, nearly 6 million women from all over the world have used this simple, effective method.
CycleBeads has been incorporated into health programs in +60 countries and offered through Title X clinics throughout the U.S. It’s the only fertility awareness method offered widely in many mainstream health programs around the world.
Not to state the obvious, but any product or service claiming to be a contraceptive needs to have rigorous evidence backing it up.
That’s why we work with professionals.
While we do our own research, we count it a privilege to partner with third party research teams like Georgetown’s Institute for Reproductive Health as well as other reproductive health experts and data scientists to compare the efficacy and impact of our technologies.
As technology has evolved, we’ve continued to do significant research to determine exactly what factors we need to know to predict fertility, and whether tracking other fertility signs in the age of fertility apps might be simpler and/or provide better information to users.*
So far, the answer is NO.
Recently we launched an app called Dot, which builds on our work with CycleBeads. Dot only requires users to enter the start date of their last period.
The algorithms behind Dot, based on Bayesian statistical analysis, evaluate global metrics as well as user-specific data to predict the user’s next period as well as her conception risks each day of her cycle.* The longer a woman uses Dot, the more accurate the predictions will be.
Our Dot app is currently undergoing a contraceptive efficacy study so we can see exactly how it compares to other modern contraceptive methods in terms of pregnancy prevention in perfect use and typical use. It’s the first study of its kind on a fertility app – using gold standard contraceptive efficacy design.
Because a contraceptive option without science behind it is no option at all.
Key to our mission here at CT is our global focus.
You may get sick of hearing this number from us, but 214 million women globally have an unmet contraceptive need*. 214 MILLION. That number is astounding when you really stop to think about it. Those women drive us to keep innovating to create contraceptive options that work for women everywhere.
And we are.
While we love providing our North American and European users with advanced contraceptive options, we also love taking our work around the globe to women in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Venezuela and in Rwanda and your country.
We want women everywhere to be able to take charge of their reproductive health. And we design our technologies and our work to make this happen.
Research by outside organizations has shown that our products are effective* and that they are having an impact – reaching women who have unmet contraceptive need.
We’re changing lives. But, we won’t be satisfied until 214 million is replaced with 0.
* References for this article:
Sedgh, G., "Unmet Need for Contraception in Developing Countries: Examining Women's Reasons for Not Using a Method", Guttmacher, (2016).
Li, D. et al, “Personalized Estimation of a Woman’s Most Fertile Days”, European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, (2016): 323-328. Print.
Simmons, R. et al. “Assessing the Efficacy of An App Based Method of Family Planning: The Dot Study Protocol”, Journal of Medical Internet Research, Volume 6, Issue 1 (2017).
Standard Days Method of Contraception: Evidence of Use, Implementation and Scale-Up
Cycle Technologies is a socially minded consumer product company based in Washington, D.C. The company creates Brilliantly Simple™ solutions to address global health needs with particular focus on reproductive health technologies. Since 2002 the company has worked with researchers, healthcare partners, and technologists to identify, develop, and make available leading edge ideas that fit its mission. To see more about the company’s initiatives, visit http://www.CycleTechnologies.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.