Health: The Fertility Awareness App, and a Controversy

The Story:

In recent days, several celebrities made well-known by their participation in the Bachelor/Bachelorette television franchise have publicly praised Natural Cycles, a fertility awareness app. This praise has in turn engendered some kickback from experts who caution that fertility awareness methods in general, high-tech or not, are unreliable methods of birth control.

Significance:

One example of this trend is Tia Booth, who has appeared both in The Bachelor and in Bachelor in Paradise. Booth wrote on a January 25 Instagram post that she no longer wants to take birth control pills. She said that luckily, a friend had informed her of Natural Cycles, “the first and only FDA cleared birth control app, and I’ve been using it ever since.”

Unfortunately, as critics of fertility awareness methods (FAM), in general, have often pointed out, up to 24% of women using FAM experience an unintended pregnancy within one year of typical use. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified FAM as one of the least effective family planning methods.

In Pill Form: 

Though many FAMs are low or no cost, the Natural Cycles app costs $89.99 a year. It calculates the days of a month on which a woman is likely to be fertile based on both menstrual cycle data and basal body temperature readings.

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