Be wary of fertility awareness apps

Couples need to understand their fertility before using an app
By Becky Knapp
Recently, another headline boasted that the latest app to chart a woman’s fertility “just made practicing NFP a whole lot easier.” Knowing the rudimentary aspects of sales, that may catch anyone’s eye who may be attempting to navigate the aspects of fertility through a method of Natural Family Planning. Although the technology of a fertility app may offer some conveniences, I would offer several points to consider before choosing to jump into charting your cycles with an app.
Married couples are best served when they learn a method of Natural Family Planning from a reliable source. In a study recently published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine notes that “Relying solely on an app to use an FABM, a fertility awareness-based method, without appropriate training in the method, may not be sufficient to prevent pregnancy”
While a fertility app may appear to offer more convenience and ease of recording, many of the apps studied are not constructed on evidence-based fertility awareness-based methods such as Billings, Creighton, two-day, symptothermal, symptohormonal, standard days, and lactational amenorrhea methods. Instead, apps may use a calendar rhythm calculation - which is not something new, but rather actually is a step backwards to a less effective means of identifying fertility.
To actually use a FABM, most understand this means the couple will have times when they abstain from genital contact if they are intending to postpone a pregnancy. Some fertility apps promote the use of contraceptives-including barriers and the morning after pill as a part of the “method.” This certainly contradicts the dignity of the human person and is not a FABM.
Modern methods of FABM empower the couple to make a decision as to how they want to use the system-whether to achieve or postpone pregnancy. The couple, when well taught, has a very high level of understanding of their fertility. This results in a high level of effectiveness.
Relying on an app to tell you if you are fertile or infertile may seem appealing. But this reliance on technology causes us to relinquish some of our freedom. There is a difference between an app that simply provides a means of recording information and an app that “interprets” the information recorded and then recommends directions based on the information.
Knapp is the program coordinator of Natural Family Planning for the Office of Marriage and Family Life. She is a registered nurse and a Certified FertilityCare Practitioner and Educator. She has taught the Creighton Model FertilityCare System for 23 years in the Diocese of Wichita and the Midwest.

Want to learn reliable fertility awareness?
Would you like to learn an evidence-based fertility awareness-based method of navigating your fertility that maintains the dignity of the human person and marriage, remains open to love and life and is highly effective whether you want to achieve or postpone pregnancy? Contact the Office of Marriage and Family Life 316-685-5240; www.catholicdioceseofwichita.org/NFP.
Visit their Facebook page: Marriage and Family Life Wichita, for an extended version of this article with references and links to more articles about fertility apps.