It's no secret that things can get complicated for cross-border couples. Time zones, language barriers, and career changes keep “love refugees” busy.
And when sex – and birth control – comes into the mix, things can get messy.
Back in 2010, Swede Frida Stegeby picked up the stakes and moved to Oslo in search of new career opportunities. She didn't know how long she'd be there, but after meeting her Norwegian boyfriend, the Umeå native has yet another reason to stay in Norway.
“I met him at our workplace, the sports section of a department store,” Frida says. “I was his boss.”
Frida Stegeby. Photo: Private
Five years later Frida is still living in Norway, studying to be a nurse while working at a psychiatric care centre for children.
“Now I live with my Norwegian partner and our dog,” she says.
But the 28-year-old from Umeå soon found an unforeseen wrinkle in her international love story.
“I had used the pill for almost 10 years, but things like healthcare and medicine are not structured the same way in Norway,” Frida says. “When I went to the doctor to get the prescription for the same pills I've had for so many years, he told me that they were not approved here in Norway.”
The revelation started what Frida describes as a long process of testing various pills – but none of them seemed to work.
“I was never really happy about birth control pills again,” she says.
Meanwhile Klaara Malmberg, a 32-year-old Swedish expat living in London, was also searching for a new birth control solution – although her problem was hormones.
“I tried contraceptive pills but I found I had trouble with the hormones,” she says. “It changed my mood, and with the added dangers of blood clots and other effects, I decided I didn't want to use anything that was disrupting my normal cycle.”
Klaara Malmberg. Photo: Private
Klaara tried using other options with “less hormones”, such as an IUD, but wasn't happy with that either.
But a girl in need is a girl online, and luckily, both women stumbled across a natural solution – from Sweden.
“I started using NaturalCycles in January and I feel so good,” Frida exclaims. “Taking care of my body instead of changing it with hormones is one of the smartest changes I've made.”
Frida and Klaara both discovered NaturalCycles, a Swedish-Swiss birth control method, through bloggers.
“I was instantly curious, since I had been trying to find something that feels right for me,” Klaara says.
NaturalCycles - the latest Swedish startup to be making headlines around the world – was it.
“The biggest challenge is just remembering to take my temperature in the morning,” Klaara laughs.
Users of NaturalCycles take their temperature in bed each morning before getting up, data which is used to predict fertile days, presenting the user with ‘red days' and ‘green days' for safety of sexual activity, with 99.9 percent accuracy.
Frida agrees that measuring her temperature each morning was “problematic at first,” but now it has become a routine – one well worth the trouble.
“The best advantage for me is that it is completely natural,” she says. “Just the thought of that makes me feel better, and it proves that it's not only physically, but also mentally good for me.”
Thanks to NaturalCycles, the Swede's sex life is smooth sailing.
“The biggest difference for my boyfriend is that there are certain days of the month he needs to use protection, and maybe he's noticed that I am a little more balanced,” she explains. “It feels good to stop taking hormonal birth control pills especially as I dream of having children in the future."
And the natural way isn't just attracting Swedes. Lindsey Oredsson is an American ”love refugee” who has definitely gone native.
Lindsey, 32, moved to Stockholm eight years ago after meeting a Swede at university. Now the couple is happily married with a 2-year-old.
“I find healthcare to be pretty amazing in Sweden, and pills and other birth control methods are pretty affordable in Sweden,” she says.
Lindsey Oredsson. Photo: Private
But money wasn't the only consideration, and Lindsey switched to NaturalCycles last year.
“I stopped pills after reading studies about side effects from the chemicals,” she says. “I was considering invasive methods like Copper IUD implants when I stumbled upon Natural Cycles.”
When she discovered the method a year ago, Lindsey first thought the testimonials sounded “too good to be true” – but she was quickly convinced.
“I like that no chemicals are involved and that I no longer experience side effects like headaches and nausea,” she says. “This method removes chemicals from our lives and makes me feel more like myself.”
And of course, it also means fewer translation sessions for the international duo.
“My partner was helpful with translating birth control prescriptions from Swedish in the past, but I think he likes the simplicity of no prescriptions,” Lindsey says. “I think that it has been good for our relationship.”
So while culture clash may still be an issue, the three agree that the Swedish app helps remove uncertainty and hassle – just one worry less for cross-border love.
“It's easy,” Klaara says. “You get to know your own body with a little help from science. All you need is a thermometer.”
“Everyone can get to know their own body and how it works,” Frida says. “You don't have to go to the doctor or think about the language and local recommendations about pregnancy prevention. NaturalCycles has no borders.”
This article was produced by The Local in partnership with NaturalCycles.