An app to prevent pregnancy? Don’t count on it
Fertility awareness apps are being championed as a new approach to contraception. In reality, while the technology may be new, women have been predicting the fertile days in their menstrual cycles to prevent pregnancy for a very long time.
But the growth of the “femtech” industry, alongside a seemingly growing wave of younger women looking to move away from hormonal methods of contraception, has led to a renewed interest.
Fertility awareness methods and apps can help women better understand their bodies, are relatively cost-effective, and have no side-effects.
Yet at the same time, the apps rely on dedicated daily monitoring and data entry, and strictly abstaining from unprotected sex for several days each month. They also leave significant room for user error.
Most importantly, their effectiveness remains to be properly proven with research evidence.
How many women are using them?
We don’t know exactly how many Australian women use these apps, but a 2016 survey found 2.8% of contraceptive users aged 18 to 51 were using a fertility awareness method of contraception.
Anecdotal clinical experience points to a small but increasing number of women who may at least be trying a fertility awareness app.