Ladies, take note! Smartphone apps alone may not help you plan pregnancy, according to a new study which reviewed nearly 100 fertility awareness apps and found that most do not employ evidence-based methodology.
The study also found that many apps include a disclaimer discouraging use for avoiding pregnancy, researchers said.
“Smartphone apps are increasing in popularity because more and more women are interested in using natural or fertility awareness based methods of family planning because they want to feel empowered with greater knowledge of their bodies,” said Marguerite Duane from Georgetown University in the US.
However, researchers said that the effectiveness of fertility awareness based methods (FABMs) depends on women observing and recording fertility biomarkers and following evidence-based guidelines.
Apps offer a convenient way to track fertility biomarkers, but only some employ evidence-based FABMs, they said.
Success using FABMs depends on many factors, including the ability to accurately make and classify daily observations. But researchers said relying solely on an FABM app may not be sufficient to avoid pregnancy.
For the review, more than 95 apps were identified. Of those, 55 were excluded from evaluation because they either had a disclaimer prohibiting use for avoiding pregnancy or did not claim to employ an evidence-based FABM, researchers said.
They evaluated the remaining 40 apps for accuracy using a rating system based on criteria used by Family Practice Management.
Each app was rated on a five-point scale for 10 clearly defined criteria, which were weighted based on their level of importance for avoiding pregnancy.
“Of those reviewed, 30 apps predict days of fertility for the user and 10 do no. Only six apps had either a perfect score on accuracy or no false negatives (days of fertility classified as infertile),” researchers said.