Wednesday, January 23, 2013

NFP Charting for the Modern Family

A common question we receive when teaching natural family planning classes is  what computer based NFP applications we recommend.  Having never found one that I truly fell in love with, we had a list of several for folks to try out but continued to hunt for the perfect application to fill this need.  We recently decided to give MyFertilityMD a test run to see if it would fill this need for us.

MyFertilityMD is an application currently available for apple based products only.  There are plans in the works to have it available for other phones and for computer/web based usage but it is currently only available for folks with iPhones, iPods, and iPads.  To be completely honest, this was a huge initial downfall for me.  I live in a world where smart phones do not exist, iPads are a nifty toy other people own, and an iPod is just not at all for me.  But my husband was very excited about testing out the application so he put it on his iPod.  Given that we are charting my cycle and I never like to mess with his iPod, well, let's just say this initially set us up for issues.  However, this bump in the road is entirely based on the fact that I personally do not use the equipment the application is meant to run on.  If you own such devices yourself, you can trust you won't have the same issues I did.  Let's just say the first time my husband pulled out the app and started to grill me on the state of my mucus observations, he got a look as I snatched his iPod from his hands and said this just is not going to work.  No, I'm not at all squeamish about discussing such things but I prefer to answer all chart related questions myself and not feel like I am taking a pop quiz.  Alan gets points for trying to be supportive and all but, um, that was just not happening.

So that part aside, what exactly is MyFertiltyMD? Simply put it is a program designed to help you chart your fertility signs.  The application is fairly expensive when compared to other apps but when you consider you are paying $5 for something you will use every single month for years to come, the cost is very reasonable. If you are a Billings or Creighton user, the charts in this app will look very familiar to you. You'll see the red, green, and white baby stickers and be very comfortable with the way it looks. If you use another form of NFP, the chart may take a little getting used to visually. Each day the program asks you a series of simple questions regarding your bleeding and cervical mucus and uses the information to determine if you are currently fertile.  You are also given the option of entering other information including basal body temperature, ferning, and cervical position.  If you run into any questions, you have the option of sending an email to a doctor who will get back to you with an answer quickly.  You are also able to use the program to email your charts to your NFP provider.

I would not at all rely on this program to actually teach you how to use NFP.  The program does come with instructional videos on how to use the software but as we like to say, it gives you just enough information to get you into trouble.  In other words, you are given a very brief overview of the basics that will give you a false sense of security.  The program does not tell you exactly what they are using to determine your fertile day or how to make a determination yourself.  For me, this is a major drawback to the system.  MyFertilityMD advertises itself as being organic and healthy and allowing you to avoid the negative side effects of birth control but fails to explain to you the methodology that allows you to do so.  I am a huge believer in giving people all the information so that they can make their own determinations and not have to rely on someone else to do the figuring for them. Yes, you can tell me you are using a sophisticated algorithm to determine my fertile days but unless I can see it, I am not comfortable with trusting that I would make the same determination if doing it myself.

Would I recommend this program to other people? Absolutely but only if I knew they already had training and experience in using NFP.  I do not believe in giving people tools without proper knowledge and instruction first.  Will I use this myself? Not at this point.  It just does not meet my current needs.  I can't imagine it would be easy to chart when Alan is out of town with his iPod for starters.

So, yes, this is a wonderful program that does fill a need for many people.  However, it is just not right for my personal use and as an NFP instructor, I feel it needs to do more to actually explain to the user how fertile determinations are made so that a couple can completely understand what they are seeing on their chart.

We were given a free download of the MyFertiltyMD application in exchange for an honest review of the program.  We were not compensated in any other way and this review expresses my opinion only.  My husband has his own opinion which you can find at his site.

1 comment:

marya said...

This app was created to teach the user to observe their bio-markers. To learn all the rules for each method can be labor intensive, and time consuming, and not everyone has the opportunity or money to invest in the training required. Our patients were clear examples of people who didn't have the time, the patience or the money to get trained in NFP. Although we encourage people to learn the methods, the philosophy, and science behind NFP, the app is a good way to include all walks of life, regardless of their means. Compared to any other method of NFP, MyFertilityMD is the least expensive, and least labor intensive. The Apple App was developed first because it was the most difficult platform. There is a limited amount of space that each app is allowed, so MyFertilityMD works within the constraints of the ios rules.
The website will be available shortly for everyone who has internet access. MyFertilityMD is a tool. It can be relied on for accurate fertility status, or it can be used as additional information for someone who uses their own NFP method, and they can compare. MyFertilityMD does not publish it's algorithm but is working to publish effectiveness data that will foster confidence in any user.