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Fertility startup Future Family switches to a subscription platform

Future Family, the startup offering more affordable plans for fertility services like IVF and egg freezing, is switching its model from small loans for these services to subscriptions. Fertility treatments are out of reach for most middle-income people in the U.S. The typical costs range from $12,000 to $20,000 for IVF, plus another few thousand for the genetic testing involved to ensure the fetus is chromosomally normal. To help, Future Family started out offering monthly payment plans for these services. However, after hearing from customers, the company has decided to switch to a subscription plan where customers can choose from several offerings and tailor a package that fits their needs. You might be wondering what the difference is: Either you get a loan for the services you want or you sign up to pay a certain amount as a subscription for x many months for the services you want. Either way, you get the services you want with an affordable way to pay for them. What’s new is the ability to pick the services you want, both upfront and and as you go. So, for example, if you go through egg retrieval and later realize you want to add genetic testing, you can now fold that option into your subscription plan. “We have now moved from a financing product with concierge, to a full subscription model that offers the flexibility of other consumer subscriptions,” a spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch. “Contrast this with other financing products that have no flexibility and no customization, and do not even include services like genetic testing.” Future Family was co-founded by former Solar City executive Claire Tomkins after she went through six rounds of IVF and spent more than $100,000 to finally get her baby, so Tomkins had some understanding of what someone might go through and how much they could rack up before seeing results. In the past year, the company has also added male fertility testing and expanded it’s ‘Touchpoint’ fertility program to include more than 200 clinics, and it has doubled its user base in the last six months. While we don’t have firm…

The FDA OK’d an app as a form of birth control

Don’t want to get pregnant? There’s a Food and Drug Administration approved app for that. The FDA has just given the go ahead for Swedish app Natural Cycles to market itself as a form of birth control in the U.S. Natural Cycles was already in use as a way to prevent pregnancy in certain European countries. However, this is the first time a so-called ‘digital contraceptive’ has been approved in America. The app works using an algorithm based on data given by women using the app such as daily body temperature and monthly menstrual cycles. It then calculates the exact window of days each month a woman is most fertile and therefore likely to conceive. Women can then see which days the app recommends they should avoid having sex or use protection to avoid getting pregnant. Tracking your cycle to determine a fertile window has long been used to either become pregnant or avoid conceiving. However, Natural Cycles put a scientific spin on the age-old method by evaluating over 15,000 women to determine its algorithm had an effectiveness rate with a margin of error of 1.8 percent for “perfect use” and a 6 percent failure rate for “typical use.” What that means is almost two in every 100 women could likely conceive on a different date than the calculated fertile window. That’s not exactly fool-proof but it is higher than many other contraceptive methods. A condom, for instance, has an 18 percent margin of error rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And though the app makers were able to convince the FDA of its effectiveness, at least one hospital in Stockholm has opened an investigation with Sweden’s Medical Products Agency (MPA) after it recorded 37 unwanted pregnancies among women who said they had been using the app as their contraception method. “Consumers are increasingly using digital health technologies to inform their everyday health decisions, and this new app can provide an effective method of contraception if it’s used carefully and correctly,” assistant director for the health of women in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health Terri…

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