Tech companies working on contraception face a new landscape after Roe


The truth, founded in 2019, is a review and advice platform where users discuss the side effects and benefits of different types of contraception, and it connects users with medical consultations and prescriptions for control of birth defects. births. Users can participate in surveys and leave reviews, which Lowdown uses with healthcare professionals to provide medically verified information. Founder Alice Pelton said she saw a 60% increase in US-based users since the start of May. “I can only attribute this to the Roe v. Wade leak in early May,” Pelton said in an email. After the Dobbs decision in July, and US users surged again. Before deer was canceled, the company was already considering adding reviews of abortion experiences, and it says it will likely add them later this year.

Both Natural Cycles and Clue are fertility awareness methods and therefore both recommend using additional contraception such as condoms on high risk days. However, they are backed by algorithms and data that should make them more effective for the typical user than simply tracking a period on a timeline. For example, Natural Cycles also considers the user’s basal body temperature, which is an indicator of fertility. Since August 2, users can also measure their temperature with the Oura ring.

Apple also recently announced that its new Apple Watch Series 8 will be able to track temperature changes that may indicate ovulation – although Apple says these ovulation windows will be retrospective and the feature is not endorsed. by the FDA for use as contraception. Apple’s data will be encrypted and stored on the devices themselves, making them more secure than apps that share or sell data. This might be more appealing to users who are worried about sharing period and ovulation tracking data with law enforcement.

Natural Cycles, which is currently the only FDA-approved fertility tracking and birth control app on the market, claims its effectiveness with typical use is 93%, and Clue says theirs is 92%. . However, over the past few years, Natural Cycles users have raised questions about its effectiveness after they got pregnant using the app. (In 2018, the Swedish Medical Products Agency found that the app’s failure rate matched the company’s effectiveness rate, but it asked Natural Cycles to clarify the pregnancy risks, which it said. ‘she did.)

Natural Cycles also shares anonymized data with researchers for clinical purposes. studies with the user’s consent. Their in-house research teams work with researchers from institutions, who must sign a data confidentiality agreement. When Clue sends data to researchers, it’s also anonymized, so no data point can be traced back to a specific person.

However, the security of these datasets is the subject of much scrutiny and concern as states move to criminalize birth control and abortion. Users fear that information about their cycles could be shared with law enforcement. This data could, for example, become proof of a pregnancy that has ended. “Women’s health as a whole has been stigmatized. But now there’s a potential for this to not just be stigmatized, but criminalized, which creates a huge problem in terms of which users are going to trust these tech companies with their data. And will companies also be interested in entering this space,” Kraft said.

The Lowdown, Clue and Natural Cycles are based in the EU and therefore comply with the strictest privacy and security law in the world, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This means companies don’t have to respond to a subpoena or request from US law enforcement to turn over data, even if the user is based in the US. Users are covered by this law, regardless of their place of residence. When the Dobbs decision was disclosed in May, Natural Cycles also began work on developing an anonymous mode. In this mode, the company itself would not even be able to identify the user.

The Lowdown makes money selling doctor consultations and prescriptions, as well as selling products to help people with symptoms and side effects. It doesn’t track people’s cycles or sell its review data, and although users must register with an email address, they can create an anonymous account that doesn’t use their name. Clue and Natural Cycles also said they don’t sell their users’ data and instead make money from subscriptions. Elina Berglund, co-founder and CEO of Natural Cycles, said the company is also working with its legal team on how to protect its data. “It’s a new area to navigate, and the laws are still changing. So we want to be on top also on the legal side,” she said.


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