Fertility apps- don’t get complacent

There are hundreds of fertility apps which claim to help users plan or prevent a pregnancy – these come in all manner of forms and some will be more effective than others. Without independent evaluation, we can’t say for certain which will be effective at achieving this.

The Natural Cycles fertility awareness app has just been approved as a class IIb medical device, but it is important that people realise that this medical classification does not guarantee that the app will effectively prevent pregnancy.

It is important that people realise that this medical classification does not guarantee that the app will effectively prevent pregnancy.

Natural Cycles and other fertility awareness apps are based on fertility awareness methods (also known as natural family planning) which involve monitoring different indicators of fertility in order to establish which days are fertile days (days that a woman could conceive).

Women who wish to use fertility awareness-based contraception are advised to receive guidance from a qualified teacher to learn how to effectively monitor the different indicators. Apps currently do not come with this teaching, leaving room for misunderstanding and inaccurate use.

Apps currently do not come with this teaching, leaving room for misunderstanding and inaccurate use.

As well as requiring regular, consistent monitoring of fertility indicators, all fertility awareness-based contraceptive methods rely on women abstaining from sex or using condoms correctly during the fertile window. If women don’t follow these instructions perfectly, their risk of pregnancy greatly increases.

Diana Mansour

Diana Mansour is Vice President, Clinical Quality, Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

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