Do Fertility Apps Work? The Good, The Bad, and The Complicated.

July 19, 2016

 

Health technology is booming.  As Cycle Technologies’ Founder, Leslie Heyer, points out, mobile technology is changing global health, giving people unprecedented access to information they did not have in the past. So, it’s no surprise that these tech advancements are even changing the contraceptive options available to women globally.

 

According to the World Health Organization, there are +225 million women worldwide who have an unmet need for family planning. Can fertility apps help address this unmet need?

 

YES! Some of them can.

 

The Good: Technology is empowering people with access to information that they did not have in the past.

 

A select few of the fertility apps on the market are based on modern fertility awareness methods and designed for pregnancy prevention. According to a recent study in the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine, only 6 of 40 fertility apps that were reviewed by the researchers had either a perfect score on accuracy or no false negatives (Psst…we were really happy to report that CycleBeads® was included in the top three. Sadly Dot™ was too new to be included in this research.) These apps address many of the reasons that women cite for not using contraception – side effects being the #1.

 

When it comes to reproductive health and specifically family planning, mobile technology has the potential to be a game changer.  Providing effective, side-effect free, fertility awareness options that are widely usable and accessible to anyone in the world entirely through a mobile device can go a long way towards achieving the global goals.

 

This is great news for all of us. Really, really great news!

 

The Bad: Misleading women into thinking their fertility apps are giving them information they are not.

 

At last count there are almost 1000 “fertility tracking apps” in the marketplace. Many of these make outrageous claims – “choose the sex of your child”, “know what foods to eat to increase your fertility”, “get pregnant 8x faster”, etc.  These apps are doing women a disservice and frankly, doing a disservice to the whole industry by undermining its credibility.

 

Even the relatively respectable fertility apps don’t always make it clear that they are designed to do different things.  A user has to dig into the fine print to see if the app is designed for contraception or not.

 

Hint: Very few fertility apps are designed for pregnancy prevention even if they tell you up front to choose your “mode”.

 

Can my fertility app tell me what day is ovulation?  

 

NO. There is NO app out there that can pinpoint your day of ovulation. It’s just not possible. They can give you an idea of when they think you are likely to ovulate. But, there is no app that can tell you when you are going to ovulate.  If an app tells you “you are ovulating on this day” - buyer beware!

 

It’s no wonder that users and even the media are getting confused. The world of fertility apps is a crowded, largely unregulated space with many developers making outrageous claims, and others being vague about how to use the information they give. It’s enough to make you run back and take a pill.

 

The Complicated: It’s a bloody mess out there but we’re here for you.

 

Ok. We hope we haven’t scared you away. Here’s what you need to know before using a fertility app:
 

  1. Decide how you want to use the app, and make sure that the apps you’re considering actually support that goal.
     

  2. Make sure you know what method the app is using and that it is a modern, proven method. If an app tells you that it’s based on “magic” or a “proprietary algorithm” that they aren’t willing to tell you about, think twice.
     

  3. Make sure the app comes from a respected source especially if you plan to make real fertility decisions based on it. Even if the app claims to be based on an actual, tested method, the implementation of this method is critical.

 

Our goal at Cycle Technologies is to provide women with contraceptive options that meet their needs.  All of our apps - Dot, CycleBeads, and TwoDay Method, are family planning apps based on years of scientific study and research with top experts in the field. Simply put, they are based on proven, effective family planning methods and designed to be easy to use.

 

About Cycle Technologies:  We’re a socially minded consumer products and technology company that creates brilliantly simple solutions to help address global health needs. Since 2002 we’ve worked with researchers, healthcare partners and technologists to identify, develop and make available leading edge ideas that fit its mission. To see more about our company’s initiatives, visit us at www.CycleTechnologies.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for up to date information.

 

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