Pair behind cutting edge birth control and pregnancy planning app Natural Cycles share their story.
Established when the company’s founders were themselves in search of a natural, non-invasive, and effective form of contraception, birth control and pregnancy planning app Natural Cycles is now more than six years in the making and boasts more than 900,000 users. CE marked in Europe and cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as birth control, the pair behind the Natural Cycles app share a small portion of their fascinating story.
Natural Cycles was founded in 2013 by Elina Berglund and her husband, Raoul Scherwitzl. As a former member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, Berglund was part of the team that discovered the Higgs Boson particle. This, she reveals, was one of the most significant discoveries ever made in particle physics. “The discovery,” says the Natural Cycles CEO and co-founder, “went on to win a Nobel Prize.”
Scherwitzl, too, has a background in particle physics. “In addition to my background in particle physics, I’d always aspired to be an entrepreneur, using my knowledge of physics to make an impact within society,” he explains.
The idea for the Natural Cycles app was first conceived when Berglund and Scherwitzl began to think about starting a family. “I’d stopped using hormonal birth control, and, in my search for a natural alternative, I learned that a woman’s body temperature changes throughout her menstrual cycle,” says Berglund. The Natural Cycles co-founder then started analyzing her own temperature and applying her statistical knowledge from particle physics to detect ovulation and map out her fertile days. “The more entrenched I became in my own fertility data, the more I was learning about my body,” she explains.
Using the techniques she’d learned through the Higgs Boson project, Berglund created an algorithm to analyze temperature readings to identify fertile and infertile days. “It was Raoul who first suggested that we turn my fertility algorithm into an app, to allow others to benefit from our innovation,” she adds. Berglund then spent the next year perfecting her algorithm and learning how to code an app. “It was then that Natural Cycles was born,” she reveals.
From their background in scientific research, Berglund and Scherwitzl knew that a crucial step in making Natural Cycles a success would involve gathering clinical data to support the efficacy of the app in preventing pregnancy.
The pair have remained committed to continuing clinical research and, in 2017, took part in one of the most extensive studies ever of its kind tied to birth control, conducted and published in the peer-reviewed journal Contraception in partnership with scientists from the Karolinska Institute and other research centers.
In the same year, Natural Cycles became the first, and so far only, app to be CE marked for use as birth control in Europe. Eighteen months later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also granted the same clearance for Natural Cycles, making it the first application of its kind in the United States.
So, what does the future hold for Natural Cycles? “Right now, we’re pioneering an era in which women are more aware and in control of their bodies than ever before,” says Berglund. “Moving forward, we want to continue to empower women to take control of their fertility,” she adds,, “whether that’s to prevent a pregnancy, or to plan one.”
To learn more about Natural Cycles, or to download the Natural Cycles app, head to https://www.naturalcycles.com/.