Our current society is no stranger to synthetic drugs, chemicals and hormones. A prime example of this is The Pill, which injects hormones into a woman’s body to help prevent pregnancy. These hormones induce side effects like nausea, weight gain, and mood changes.
Maxim Hygiene’s January Fierce Woman of the month, Dr. Elina Berglund, a former CERN researcher, decided that enough was enough and wanted to give women the opportunity and choice to reclaim control of their bodies and sexual health without having to use traditional synthetic contraception. In 2012 Dr. Berglund and her husband, Dr. Raoul Scherwitzl, who both have PhDs in physics, made the choice to leave their jobs and embark on an adventure to create a natural birth control method for themselves and other couples. In June 2013 they launched an application known as NaturalCycles, the world’s only birth control app.
NaturalCycles is a hormone-free alternative to popular contraceptives, like the pill, for women who are fed up of side-effects. All a woman needs to do is measure her temperature in her mouth every morning, tap it into the app and voila, she can check her fertility. A ‘green day’ is 99.9% safe and a ‘red day’ is when a woman is at risk and should wear protection. The method is 100% natural and 99.9% safe, as clinically proven in a study recently published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health.
Check out our exclusive Q&A with Dr. Berglund below to learn about NaturalCycles and this ambitious woman’s efforts towards naturally improving women’s health.
At Maxim Hygiene, we define a Fierce Woman as a “glorious female creature whose idea of beauty is hinged upon the idea that she can change the world with each choice, each moment and each breath of her life.” Who in your life is a Fierce Woman and why?
My daughter! It’s incredible to see how she discovers the world a little bit every day and has already figured out how to make everyone around her do exactly what she wants them to do. She has definitely changed my world for the better!
What inspired you to found NaturalCycles? How long did it take you to develop the technology?
I noticed an unmet need when I started using other available hormone-free methods, which were difficult to use, old-fashioned and inaccurate. I knew I could apply my knowledge from CERN to creating the basis of NaturalCycles, to determine when a woman is ovulating. I left my career at CERN with the hope of making it available for all couples and now my dream has come true in just over a year.
Do you currently have any competitors? If so, how does your company set itself apart? How many women currently use NaturalCycles?
Our competitors are focused towards helping women get pregnant based on the calendar method (period tracking). This is not a fail-safe method as it only offers the percentage likeliness of getting pregnant. Calendar methods help women plot their cycle but assume that all women’s cycles are the same. However, when determining a woman’s fertility NaturalCycles takes into account the fact that every woman’s cycle is unique and most are irregular.
NaturalCycles’ clinically proven algorithm accurately pinpoints a woman’s fertile window, only giving women a ‘green day’ when 99.9% sure they are safe. Competitors that are aimed towards birth control are not as effective often giving women more red days, and do not map women’s cycles with graphs, monthly calendars and cycle statistics like we do. We now have over 15,000 users and with a total of 420000 days on NaturalCycles there have been zero unwanted pregnancies.
Your product is a great natural birth control method, but you must face lots of skepticism and criticism from consumers as it is relatively new. How do you combat this hesitation/wariness?
Often by default, hormonal contraceptives are offered to women from an early-age, which masks a woman’s unique cycle and lead many women to be out-of-touch with their own fertility. This in turn has meant that many women have forgotten the basics in fertility thus making the uptake of natural alternatives, like NaturalCycles, a daunting prospect.
Our job is to educate both women and men about the importance of fertility and how it all works, for instance did you know that women are only fertile 6 days a cycle? With this understanding, women learn that getting pregnant on green days is almost impossible and that natural alternatives, like NaturalCycles, are effective and can benefit both people in a relationship. No hormones for her and less condoms for him!
Where do you see the company going in the future?
Following a recent investment round we are focusing on growing our team and spreading the ‘natural and safe’ word across the globe. We plan to progress NaturalCycles alongside our user’s evolving needs and have some exciting plans in the pipeline. We think the future of birth control lies in knowing your body rather than altering it with hormonal contraceptives and are looking forward to the day when the term ‘green day’ and ‘red day’ are used in everyday life!
If you hadn’t founded NaturalCycles do you think you would still be working towards improving women’s health in some way?
NaturalCycles was the one opportunity for me to help women directly, which is why I seized the idea and drove it to people’s bedside tables. Particle physics aims to determine the makeup of our universe as a whole, not the makeup of unique individuals and their health. I never imagined that my background in physics would be used towards finding a solution for women’s everyday biological needs and thanks to today’s ubiquitous access to technology we have made it happen!