Doubts cast over accuracy of many popular fertility and pregnancy planning apps

Many popular fertility and pregnancy planning apps may be inaccurate, suggest the results of a review of the available evidence, published online in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.

Despite their growing popularity, there’s little hard evidence to inform the use of these apps in practice, coupled with minimal regulation, note the researchers. And many apps seem to have been developed without any fertility specialist input.

The researchers included 18 relevant studies, published between 2010 and 2019 from 13 countries in their review. The data from these studies were then analyzed according to three main themes: fertility and reproductive health tracking (6 studies); pregnancy planning (4); and pregnancy prevention (11).

In terms of pregnancy planning, there is simply not enough published evidence to draw any firm conclusions, say the researchers, and what evidence there is, casts doubt on the predictive accuracy of these apps.

Several of the studies indicated that fertility apps can be successfully used as a means of contraception, but not all of them marketed for this purpose have been designed to include this feature, caution the researchers.

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