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Swedish Fertility Tracking App is First Certified Mobile Birth Control Method

SWEDEN  --  When it comes to pregnancy prevention, women have many options to choose from, including using their smart phone.

A fertility tracking app developed in Sweden has now been classified by the European Union as a medical device, which makes it the first mobile app to be certified as a method of birth control, as NBC's Sheinelle Jones reports.

"This is for women who would really like to approach family planning naturally," said Dr. Natalie Azar, NBC News Medical Contributor.

The app is called Natural Cycles, and prompts a woman to answer a series of health questions, including the date of her last period and how long her cycle usually lasts. A key component to the app and its effectiveness is tracking a woman's temperature daily, which can be done with any digital basal thermometer, measured at approximately the same time every morning. Once data has been submitted to the app, it lets a user know if they are having a green or a red day.

"A green day means that you cannot get pregnant. A red day means that you should use protection."

Natural Cycles conducted a study of more than 4,000 women using their app, and found with typical use the app is 93% effective when it comes to preventing pregnancy. According to the FDA, oral contraceptives are only 91% effective when measuring typical use.

"We created Natural Cycles based on our own need for an effective natural birth control method," said Elina Berglund.

Berglund--a Nobel Prize-winning Swedish physicist--created the app with her husband Raoul Scherwitz, and says it's their advanced algorithm that sets this app apart from other fertility trackers on the market.

"Seventy-five percent of our users use it to prevent pregnancies and 25% use it to get pregnant," said Scherwitz.

While the app is certified as a medical contraception device by the European Union, reproductive and sexual health experts are calling for more large scale and independent research so fertility apps are held to the same rigorous scientific standards as other contraceptive methods.

"It does not protect against STDs. It's only for conception or or to prevent pregnancy, and that's something that's very important to re-emphasize to women who would chose this method," said Azar.

But for some women looking to avoid pills, devices, or surgery, it's a green light for an effective natural birth control option.

The FDA has yet to approve any fertility apps in the U.S. as a certified method of birth control, but there are ongoing studies to prove their effectiveness.