condoms contraception app
A contraception app, used often instead of condoms or birth control, is being blamed for unwanted pregnancies. Pictured: A general view of condoms at an event held by the Barbados National HIV/AIDS Commission on the eleventh day of an official visit on Dec. 1, 2016 in Bridgetown, Barbados. Chris Jackson – Pool/Getty Images

More than 50 women in Sweden who said they used the Natural Cycles app as contraception ended up pregnant and reported their cases to the Medical Product Agency, according to a statement from Natural Cycles. The app, a certified contraceptive in Europe, has about the same failure rates as the pill, but only under certain circumstances, according to experts.

“Natural methods, when used correctly, are very very effective,” Richard J. Fehring, professor, and director of the Marquette University College of Nursing Institute for Natural Family Planning, told International Business Times.

The Natural Cycles app uses an algorithm to calculate the days a woman is fertile and therefore most likely to get pregnant and when used properly, it claims to be about as effective as the pill. The app requires that users take their temperature each morning and input it into the app, then after some calculations, the app says whether users are “not fertile,” or should “use protection.”

Research done on the app shows that when it's used correctly, or “perfectly,” as one study about the method said, the app is 99 percent effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. When it’s used under “typical use” conditions, it's about 93 percent effective, the same study found. These effectiveness ratings of contraceptives are measured using the Pearl Index.

This holds true for other forms of contraception as well.

“We’ve known that there’s an enormous difference between typical use and perfect use for the pill and the condom,” James Trussell, a professor at Princeton, and a co-author on the study published in the journal Contraception, told IBT.

Just as using a condom every time increases the chances that the contraception will be effective, so does using the app properly.

“If you’re not entering the data it can’t tell you what to do,” said Trussell.

The app needs the temperature data to calculate whether ovulation has occurred or not. An increased body temperature is indicative of the end of ovulation and the rise of progesterone in the body. Women are more fertile during the days leading up to and through the day of ovulation. So when a woman tracks her temperature and the app detects an increase, the app is able to calculate that ovulation is complete and the woman is no longer fertile.

“Natural methods work better too with a committed couple and a committed relationship,” Fehring pointed out. That’s because there’s usually a better understanding between couples and a resolve to prevent pregnancy if they’ve discussed it."

Other natural methods have been around for centuries. The calendar method, for instance, helps women estimate when they might ovulate and is 91 percent effective when utilized correctly, according to the World Health Organization. Other methods like the TwoDay Method or the Basal Body Temperature Method can also be used either independently or together quite successfully.

These older methods can be done more accurately with the help of technology that can help confirm ovulation these days as well.

“There’s a lot of high technology out there that can really be very accurate,” Fehring said.