Risky cycle apps: “Many fail the test”

Cycle apps in the test
Photo: CC0 Public DOmain/Unsplash – Rob Hampson

Cycle apps can help with contraception or family planning – at least that’s what many users hope. Stiftung Warentest examined 21 apps and only considers five of them to be reliable.

Cycle apps are actually intended to provide reliable information about fertile and infertile days or at least help you better understand your own cycle. But relying on digital calendars can be risky: “Many fail in our test,” writes Stiftung Warentest.

Half of the cycle apps fail the test

Eleven of 21 cycle apps tested failed the test with a grade of “poor”. The reasons: their way of working. According to Stiftung Warentest, these apps work mathematically, so they work on the assumption that each cycle lasts exactly 28 days and ovulation occurs on day 14. In some cases, they calculate forecasts for the coming cycles from the average values ​​of past cycles.

But: “It doesn’t fit with real life,” complain the testers. Because cycle lengths can vary from month to month. Anyone who relies solely on this mathematical approach could seriously make a mistake – and risk an unwanted pregnancy.

Five additional apps are only “sufficient”. Only five cycle apps in the test achieved a “satisfactory” test rating and are therefore recommended to a limited extent.

In addition to the measurement method, the testers criticize deficiencies in data protection in many apps – such as password specifications and the number of permitted login attempts – and in the terms and conditions. Some providers did not want to respond to inquiries about the personal data stored.

Symptothermal method preferred

Apps that use the symptothermal method are more reliable than the ones mentioned above – they all perform better. To do this, users record their body temperature (“basal temperature”) in the app every day shortly after waking up. This increases slightly shortly before ovulation. The changes in the cervical mucus, the quality of which is also recorded in some apps, also provide information about the time of ovulation.

However, gynecologist Lisa-Maria Wallwiener warned Stiftung Warentest that both methods require practice. She advises against learning the symptothermal method using only the instructions in the apps.

These are the test winners

Good to know: The benefits of the symptothermal method are scientifically proven – if they are used correctly. And yet even the test-winning apps that use this method only achieve a “satisfactory” grade. There are deductions, among other things, for deficiencies in data protection and the general terms and conditions.

The five best cycle apps in the test are actually only three, as they were tested in the Android and iOS versions:

  • “myNFP” (Android and iOS)

  • Lady Cycle (Android only)

  • “Ovolution” (Android and iOs)

All three get a grade of 2.8. The basic version of “Lady Cycle” is free, “myNFP” costs around 40 euros annually, and “Ovulution” costs around 35 euros.

Tip: Regardless of family planning, it can make sense to document cycle-related symptoms such as mood swings or pain. According to Stiftung Warentest, this is possible with the apps Lady Cycle, MyNFP and Ovolution.

The complete cycle app test is available in the October issue of test magazine and at www.test.de.

Tips for using cycle apps

  • In order to get meaningful results, you must enter the data regularly and accurately. The smartest algorithm in the world cannot correct incorrect data.
  • Most apps require you to measure your basal body temperature. To avoid mistakes, it is important that you follow a few basic rules and have enough practice (see: Measuring basal temperature: This is how the temperature method works).
  • The cycle apps can provide good support for hormone-free contraception. However, if they do not take into account all the parameters of the symptothermal method and you are not sufficiently familiar with how to use the method, apps are not enough.
  • So it’s best not to rely on apps alone for your contraception or family planning – at least not without practice.
  • If you have any questions, uncertainties or recurring symptoms, be sure to seek medical advice.

Collaboration: Daniela Staber

Read more on Techzle\.com:

  • Nutrition in the cycle: The right nutrition for every phase of the cycle
  • Contraception without hormones – an overview
  • Adenomyosis: What is behind the form of endometriosis

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