Health & Fitness

The accuracy of fertility apps

BY MICHAEL ROIZEN, M.D., AND MEHMET OZ, M.D.

King Features Syndicate

At age 73, Mick Jagger is about to become a dad for the eighth time, this time with girlfriend Melanie Hamrick, a 29-year-old ballerina. Now, we don’t know if she used a fertility app and the pregnancy was planned, or maybe she used a fertility app incorrectly and it was unplanned. There may have been no fertility apps involved at all, but for many young women, these digital menstrual-cycle monitors are a 21st-century solution to the rhythm method (notoriously unreliable) and another fun way to use a smartphone!

Fertility apps do enable women to monitor their menstrual cycles, but the digital programs have been getting a bad rap lately. The Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University did an exhaustive study of fertility apps and teased out the top 40 from around 100 that are currently available. From that pool they found only Ovulation Mentor, Sympto.org, iCycleBeads, Lily and Lady Cycle had either a perfect score on accuracy or no false negatives. (We could not locate info on one other reliable app they cited.)

But if you are going to rely on these, the study authors point out, learning everything you can about the app is essential. We suggest, to either achieve or avoid pregnancy, you’ll do best by pairing the app with another method. To check for optimal fertility, taking your temperature is smart -- it rises when ovulation occurs. And to avoid pregnancy, there’s always abstinence or contraception.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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