Introducing Clue Birth Control, a mode within Clue, the app you already know and trust to track your period and other menstrual experiences.
Clue Birth Control is based on an algorithm that uses the data you enter about your cycle, combined with millions of data points from landmark studies, to predict which days are high or low risk for pregnancy. When you enter the first day of your period, Clue Birth Control uses your period start date to calculate your pregnancy risk for each day of your cycle. On high risk days, use a barrier method such as a condom every time you have sex that may result in pregnancy.
Clue Birth Control doesn’t require a prescription or visit to a clinic but when starting any new method of birth control, it can be helpful to have a discussion with your healthcare provider. Since digital birth control is very new, not all healthcare providers know about it yet. To make sure Clue Birth Control is right for you, keep this list of questions and answers handy to review with them.
Is Clue Birth Control considered a fertility awareness-based method of birth control?
Yes, Clue Birth Control is considered a fertility awareness-based method (FABM). Like other fertility awareness-based methods, Clue Birth Control can prevent pregnancy by predicting when a person’s fertile days occur in the menstrual cycle. If you are practicing fertility awareness as a birth control method to prevent pregnancy, you need to avoid having sexual intercourse or use a barrier method of birth control, such as a condom, during the fertile period. Fertility awareness-based methods are an entire group of methods, some of which are more effective than others (1, 2).
Clue Birth Control is more accurate and simpler to use than many other types of fertility awareness-based methods because you only have to track your period start date and it does all the calculations for you. Clue Birth Control uses a special type of math called Bayesian modeling that combines data from large studies about cycle length and fertile days combined with your personal cycle data to predict cycle days that are high risk and low risk for pregnancy. This is how the algorithm personalizes your predictions based on your cycles.
Is Clue Birth Control digital contraception?
Yes, Clue Birth Control is digital contraception because it is a mode in a mobile app and is designed to prevent pregnancy by monitoring your fertility. As a software application, it is considered a type of medical device and has undergone rigorous scrutiny by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - an approval process called premarket clearance. This sets Clue Birth Control apart from other birth control apps that aren’t evidence-based and determined to be effective in an independent, peer reviewed clinical study. Many free apps claim to provide fertility predictions, but their prediction efficacy has never been proven. Clue Birth Control is FDA cleared and clinically tested, meaning that you can trust it as a safe and effective digital contraceptive method. Read more below about the effectiveness rate.
How effective is Clue Birth Control?
Clue Birth Control is 92% effective with typical use(3). Typical use describes how well a method works among a group of people who admittedly do not always use the method correctly and consistently (2). Clue Birth Control is 97% effective with perfect use1 (3). Perfect use describes how well a birth control method prevents pregnancy when used correctly every time. Perfect use of Clue Birth Control means that a person using it logs the first day of their period correctly every month, checks the app every day to understand their risk for pregnancy, and always uses a barrier method such as a condom when having sex that may result in pregnancy on high risk days. The effectiveness of Clue Birth Control was determined by an independent study conducted at Georgetown University (3). You and your healthcare provider can read the study here to see all of the details.
What are some of the pros of Clue Birth Control?
Clue Birth Control works without hormones, so that means it doesn’t cause side effects. This is important because while women stop using hormonal birth control for many reasons, side effects are often one of them (4, 5). Clue Birth Control works by using data about a person’s natural menstrual cycle, providing important and empowering information about when pregnancy could occur. It’s also easy to use and only requires your period start date each cycle. There’s no need to enter other information like basal body temperature (BBT) or cervical fluid although you can track these and other measurements as part of the app..
Who is a good candidate for Clue Birth Control?
Clue Birth Control uses your period data to predict when you are fertile, so it works best for people whose periods are mostly predictable and don’t vary too much (9 days or less variation in cycle length over the last 12 cycles). Your cycles also need to be between 20 and 40 days long. Before you talk to your healthcare provider about using it, you can explore Clue Birth Control mode and complete the eligibility screen to make sure you meet all the requirements. You can also download the User Manual to read more about the requirements.
If you are currently taking hormonal birth control, have recently stopped, have a non-hormonal IUD, or have recently been pregnant or breastfeeding, Clue Birth Control might not be right for you until your periods have returned to their typical patterns (read the full requirements in the User Manual). You also need to be between 18 and 45 years old.
What your healthcare provider needs to know about Clue Birth Control
You can start using Clue Birth Control without visiting your healthcare provider. If you do want to talk to your provider about Clue Birth Control, keep in mind that it is brand new, so it’s possible you may be the first person to mention it to them. Rightfully so, the first thing most clinicians want to know is the effectiveness of a form of birth control. Together, you and your provider can refer to the chart below to compare Clue Birth Control to other methods of birth control to decide if Clue Birth Control is right for you.
Even though the use of fertility awareness-based methods is on the rise (6, 7), there is a common misconception that they are not an effective form of birth control. This is due to a few different reasons. “Fertility awareness-based method” is a term used to describe a broad category of birth control that includes many different types of methods like the rhythm method, which is based on cycle length, the TwoDay Method, which is based on changes in cervical fluid, and the Symptothermal Method, which uses information about basal body temperature and cervical fluid (7). For many fertility awareness-based methods, there is a lack of high quality research on their effectiveness, meaning that we don’t actually know how effective they are with perfect use (8). These methods require following specific guidelines, so they can be particularly sensitive to incorrect and inconsistent use. Many people may only follow the guidelines loosely which decreases the efficacy (9). Importantly, fertility awareness-based methods are not a "set-it-and-forget-it" method of birth control like some long-acting contraceptives because they require active participation and consistently correct usage from the person who uses them (8).
You can refer your provider to this clinical update for more information about the effectiveness of other fertility awareness-based methods of birth control and how they are studied. Clue Birth Control just became available, so it’s not in this review at the moment, but they can read the research to support the effectiveness of Clue Birth Control here.
Your provider will also want to know that unlike most FABMs, Clue Birth Control has been clinically tested and cleared by the FDA as a medical application for use as contraception to prevent pregnancy. The research to support the effectiveness of Clue Birth Control was conducted by researchers at the Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) at Georgetown University. These researchers conducted a registered clinical trial in compliance with international Good Clinical Practice to test the effectiveness of the algorithm Clue Birth Control uses to predict high and low risk days of pregnancy (2).
Most importantly for you, your provider should know that Clue Birth Control is side effect free because it doesn’t use hormones. It does require consistent participation from you, including entering your period start date each cycle and checking the app each day you have sex. On high risk days, you need to use a condom or another barrier method, every time you have sex that may result in pregnancy. There will be 16 high risk days each cycle when you start using the app. As the app learns more about your cycles, you could have as few as 11-13 high risk days each cycle. Remember, Clue Birth Control does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is recommended that you and your partner(s) are screened for STIs before starting a new contraceptive method.
If your healthcare provider has more questions about Clue Birth Control, they can read more on our page for clinicians.
Clue Birth Control will be launched in the USA in 2022. We are excited to bring Clue Birth Control to other countries soon. This will take a little more time, but we’re on it.