Thursday, September 15, 2011

Birth Control…There’s an app for that?

Q: I use a period tracker app on my smart phone.  I only had sex twice this last cycle and both times were on days that it said I wasn’t fertile.  I’m now pregnant and I don’t understand how this app could have been wrong. Please help.

A: Period predictor and tracker apps are free, easy, and a must-have for many smart phone equipped women.  They help track symptoms, period duration, anticipated start dates, and much more! 

What they cannot effectively predict is fertility, especially if you are using it for birth control.  Apps cannot predict how long sperm will live, how long it takes your egg to travel down the fallopian tube, accurate ovulation, or even a fertile period that is anything more than a calculated guess. 

Our bodies are each very unique.  Certainly the timing of a woman’s cycle is somewhat predictable, but relying on an app (or what amounts to a computer program) to determine what’s going on in our bodies without any biological input is a mathematical guess at best.  It simply cannot accurate predict what is going on with the limited information (usually dates) that you input.

Consider this; you are standing at a very busy intersection with heavy traffic.  You need to cross the street and you have two choices:  First, you push the button on the pedestrian console and watch (and wait) for the light to change, indicating it is safe to cross.  Or, you have just downloaded this fabulous app that is smart enough to let you know when it is safe to cross the street based. You are on the curb, what do you do?  Look at the light, street, and traffic or look at your phone?  Which do you trust more to keep you safe from a car that is running a red light – your own senses or your phone?

It’s the same when attempting to use a period tracking app for birth control.  Are you really going to trust your phone to keep you from getting pregnant? 

I’m sorry that you have had to learn the hard way that there is no app that functions as birth control.  Anytime you have sexual intercourse you risk getting pregnant, no matter what your smart phone tells you.