Nav: Home

Fertility app 'Dot' found to be as effective as other family planning methods

March 18, 2019

WASHINGTON - Results of a first-of-its-kind prospective study with a family planning app find it to be as effective as other modern methods for avoiding an unplanned pregnancy.

Researchers from the Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) at Georgetown University Medical Center studied women's use of the Dot app over 13 menstrual cycles, or about one year.

Their study, published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Healthcare, is the first to test a fertility app using best-practice guidelines for assessing effectiveness of family planning methods. (13-cycle Perfect and Typical-use Effectiveness of the Dot Fertility App; Results From a Prospective Contraceptive Trial)

Using historical cycle data and a woman's period start dates, Dot's algorithm predicts pregnancy risk for each day of her menstrual cycle, flagging days of high and low fertility. As the app "learns" about her cycle over time, it personalizes a user's fertile window - the days of her cycle when pregnancy is likely.

The researchers found that the app had a typical-use failure rate of 5 percent and a perfect-use failure rate of 1 percent, which makes Dot comparable to family planning methods such as the pill, vaginal ring, and other fertility awareness-based methods.

"More and more women are using apps as a family planning method, so having an option backed by strong evidence of effectiveness is critical," says Victoria Jennings, PhD, principal investigator of the Dot effectiveness study and director of the IRH. "Women must be able to base their app choice on solid evidence about how well the method works and what's involved in using it. That's why it was so important that an app like Dot undergo a rigorous effectiveness trial conducted according to established study guidelines used to study other methods."

Researchers applied a research software to the existing app that included pop-up reminders, surveys, and instant messages. Using this software, 718 participants were prospectively enrolled in the study and followed for up to 13 cycles of use, with fewer participants "lost to follow up" than is typical for an online study. Participants provided daily sexual history data for 6,616 menstrual cycles." There were 24 confirmed pregnancies from cycles when participants used the method incorrectly (such as having unprotected sex on days of high fertility). One pregnancy occurred in a cycle in which the participant used Dot correctly.

The participant profile reflected the general United States population of women 18-39. The researchers found no association between pregnancy and sociodemographic characteristics such as age, ethnicity, and relationship status.

"This is a particularly important finding because it suggests that Dot can be appropriate for a wide range of women," Jennings says. "Given the widespread use of mobile technology, a digital method like Dot has the potential to reach many women with an unmet need for family planning."
-end-
This study was supported by the United States Agency for International Development grant (OAAOAO13O00083). Dot is owned by Cycle Technologies, which is solely responsible for the app.

About the Institute for Reproductive Health

The Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University Medical Center has more than 30 years of experience in designing and implementing evidence-based programs that address critical needs in sexual and reproductive health. The Institute's areas of research and program implementation include family planning, adolescents, gender equality, fertility awareness, and mobilizing technology for reproductive health. The Institute is highly respected for its focus on the introduction and scale-up of sustainable approaches to family planning and fertility awareness around the world. For more information, visit http://www.irh.org.

About Georgetown University Medical Center

Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC's mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. Connect with GUMC on Facebook (Facebook.com/GUMCUpdate), Twitter (@gumedcenter) and Instagram (@gumedcenter).

Georgetown University Medical Center

Related Pregnancy Articles:

Medication use during pregnancy is common in women with preeclampsia
Use of medications during pregnancy is more common in women with preeclampsia than in those without, according to a British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology analysis of women who gave birth at a hospital in Finland in 2002-2016.
Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.
Opioid use disorder in pregnancy: 5 things to know
Opioid use is increasing in pregnancy as well as the general population.
Medical imaging rates during pregnancy
Researchers looked at rates of medical imaging (CT, MRI, conventional x-rays, angiography, fluoroscopy and nuclear medicine) during pregnancy in this observational study that included nearly 3.5 million pregnant women in the United States and Canada from 1996 to 2016.
New research on diet and supplements during pregnancy and beyond
The foods and nutrients a woman consumes while pregnant have important health implications for her and her baby.
Obesity in early pregnancy linked to pregnancy complications
In a prospective study published in Obesity of 18,481 pregnant women in China who had never given birth before, obesity in early pregnancy was linked to higher risks of spontaneous abortion, preterm birth, and large birth weight in newborns.
Possible link between autism and antidepressants use during pregnancy
An international team led by Duke-NUS Medical School has found a potential link between autistic-like behaviour in adult mice and exposure to a common antidepressant in the womb.
Immigrant women more likely to be overweight during pregnancy
A new study in the Journal of Public Health finds that women in Norway from immigrant backgrounds are more likely to be overweight during pregnancy.
Stillbirths more likely if diabetes in pregnancy not diagnosed
Women who develop diabetes in pregnancy but are not diagnosed are much more likely to experience stillbirth than women without the condition, according to new research.
Do economic conditions affect pregnancy outcomes?
Economic downturn during early pregnancy was linked with modest increases in preterm birth in a Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology analysis.
More Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#544 Prosperity Without Growth
The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab