Period tracking apps have now become a life staple for people who have periods. It is great for multiple reasons, and now a popular period-tracker Clue has announced one more reason to be thankful for them—digital birth control.
The app was given clearance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to launch a ‘digital contraceptive’—which they claim to help users prevent pregnancy based on the start date of a user’s period. They plan to launch ‘Clue Birth Control’ later “this year”.
I personally use the Clue app (iOS, Android) as an easy way to track irregular period cycles. The app gets smarter with every update—and you can track almost everything to do with menstrual health like how light or heavy the bleeding is, the kind of pain you’re having (cramps, headaches), your emotions, how much sleep you get, sexual activity, energy, and so many others that you can add or customise.
Clue is also able to predict your fertility window. However, you have to note that its predictions aren’t might not be precisely accurate as you can accidentally log the wrong date, or aren’t specific enough in your tracking options. Additionally, the app only bases their data based on a regular menstrual cycle—so if you have an irregular cycle, their predictions might still be off.
While Clue’s announcement of its ‘digital birth control’ is exciting, you should also be cautious about using actual birth control because of the same reasons. Clue says that its digital birth control is “92 percent effective” at preventing unwanted pregnancy when accounting for some errors, and “97 percent effective under perfect use”.
“Clue Birth Control is only suitable for women, aged between 18-45, who have regular periods,” said Clue, “Users must also be able to track their period; check the app each day they have sex; and be prepared to use a condom or avoid sex that may result in pregnancy on high-risk days.”
Even though Clue itself is a free application, Clue Birth Control will be a “premium” priced feature. The prices have yet to be announced, but Clue Plus can be bought at RM39.90 a month, or RM159.90 a year.
Clue Birth Control will additionally make prospective users go through an eligibility process. They will need to “demonstrate eligibility by being able to provide key information, including about their own cycle”—which means that people with irregular period cycles won’t likely be eligible.
If the user can’t show eligibility the app will “boot them out”. Users whose cycle becomes too irregular for the product to work properly will also be prevented from continued use.
“This is someone who—as I envisage as a physician—potentially wants to get pregnant in the next couple of years but is not ready and does not want to use hormonal birth control for whatever reason and is already using condoms,” said Clue’s chief medical officer Lynae Brayboy.