First things first: There are lots of reasons why people need and want birth control, from STD protection to acne treatment. But if you're looking to either avoid or achieve pregnancy, there may finally be a phone app that's got research backing up its reliability.
Georgetown University researchers have been investigating fertility apps for some time. In 2016, they released a study showing that vanishingly few apps were ultimately medically suitable. Now, however, the team has found an app that, when used correctly, is "as effective as other modern methods for avoiding an unplanned pregnancy," according to a press release.
Preliminary results from the Institute of Reproductive Health indicate that the family planning app Dot may be "comparable to other modern family planning methods such as the pill, injections, and vaginal ring." More than 700 participants tracked their menstrual cycle for between six months and a year, and of those who used the app correctly, none became pregnant when they didn't want to be.
That does mean it's important to follow the app's guidelines, since it uses an algorithm to figure out a person's highest-fertility days, and as with most birth control methods, relying on just one may not prevent every single pregnancy. If you want to give the app a try yourself, contact [email protected], although the app is available for Android users only at present. But it may presage a future in which parents-to-be can more fully and freely decide when it's right to start a family, without relying heavily on time-consuming doctor visits.