MaterCare International is pleased to announce Dr. Elvis I. Šeman presenting in our 2019 Rome Conference programme.
Dr. Šeman is presently medical lead in urogynecology at Flinders Medical Centre and Senior Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Flinders University, South Australia.
He is also a board member of MaterCare International and Treasurer of MaterCare Australia.
His Rome Conference presentation is entitled "Natural Cycles Fertility App gets FDA Approval to Prevent Pregnancy".
Objective: Review the background to the Natural Cycles fertility app gaining FDA approval as “digital contraception” in 2018, assess “will it wither or whither can it go,” examine the role of apps in relation to the 3 primary evidence-based Fertility Awareness-based Methods (FABM) of family planning, and present a published evaluation of the performance of FABM apps marketed to avoid pregnancy (see reference).
Design: Review, cross-check and collation of relevant information from appropriate sources.
Method: A review of media-based sources on Natural Cycles’ FDA approval, interview of FABM instructors familiar with method-specific apps, reading of relevant website information and publications. Reflection on the subject matter in relation to the conference theme.
Results: Natural Cycles is the first FDA-approved contraceptive app. Designed by 2 Swedish physicists and without consulting FABM experts, it relies on basal body temperature and an algorithm based on the rhythm method. Initial studies indicate a user effectiveness of 93% per year. The app is marketed through social media and, from the Catholic and medical perspective has several flaws: it is based on a contraceptive and product mindset; it doesn’t incorporate the most reliable fertility indicator (cervical mucus); it’s target consumers are women with regular cycles who plan to conceive and want a break from hormonal contraception; it recommends using the least effective contraception (barrier) during the most fertile time of the cycle.
Using a 10-criteria rating system to evaluate apps for avoiding pregnancy, Duane et al ranked Natural Cycles 15th out of 30 apps which predicted days of fertility. They concluded that relying solely on an app to use an FABM, without appropriate training in the method, may not be sufficient to prevent pregnancy.
Conclusions: Natural Cycles is the first and only FDA-approved contraceptive app. While it has proven efficacy, equivalent to the combined oral contraceptive, there are shortcomings in its underlying philosophy, design and marketing.
1. Duane M, Contreras A, Jensen ET, White A. The Performance of Fertility Awareness-based Method Apps Marketed to Avoid Pregnancy. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2016, 29: 508-511. DOI:https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2016.04.160022