Fertility apps: the ‘next wave’ in solving global family planning crisis
Every year, lack of access to contraception causes about 85 million unplanned pregnancies and a host of negative associated health outcomes. One expert said this global health crisis can be mitigated with apps that allow women to understand and track their fertility.
The challenge to provide universal contraceptive access is an old problem, but there are new challenges. A few were created by the Trump administration, which reinstated – and expanded – the Global Gag Rule, freezing government funding to many foreign NGOs providing family planning, maternal and child health, nutrition and other critical health services.
Global family planning expert Leslie Heyer is one of many advocates who warns that the funding cuts will have devastating consequences for women and their families, especially in the developing world.
Heyer is the founder of Cycle Technologies, a provider of family-planning tools to women worldwide. Some of Cycle’s methods – like CycleBeads and Dot – provide forms of contraception requiring nothing more than a mobile phone. Heyer said these digital options can be accessible, cost-effective alternatives to traditional contraceptive methods, which are often reliant on fragile supply systems and subjected to restrictions under policymakers.
She explained that fertility awareness apps are now more accurate than ever, thanks to sophisticated algorithms that deliver information that women can use to understand when they are fertile and to plan their pregnancies when they are ready. Such methods have been approved as modern contraceptive methods by the World Health Organization.
Cycle Technologies officials said their products have been used by more than 6 million women in more than 60 countries.
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