Why ASA is investigating Natural Cycles contraception app

Advertising watchdog launches formal probe following complaints the product is not as effective as it claims

pregnancy diet
(Image credit: Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

The Advertising Standards Authority has launched an investigation into marketing for the Natural Cycles smartphone app after some of its claims were called into question.

A spokesman for the UK advertising watchdog said it had received complaints about the app, which was created by a team of Swedish developers. The app described itself in a Facebook advertisement as “highly accurate contraception that has been clinically tested”, The Guardian reports.

“We would require robust substantiation from any company to support such a claim,” the ASA spokesman said.

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Natural Cycles uses a thermometer and machine learning algorithms to determine when a woman is fertile, says The Independent. It was certified in the EU as a medical device last year.

But a report published in January showed that at least 37 women at one hospital in Sweden became pregnant while using the app. This led to the country’s medicines agency being alerted.

The ASA has also received three complaints about the social media post that allege the claims are misleading and cannot be substantiated.

In response, Natural Cycles said cases of unwanted pregnancy were an “inevitable reality” with any form of contraception, the Daily Mail reports.

A spokeswoman for the app said: “We are in contact with the ASA and, since the investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate for us to speculate on the outcome.

“We can confirm however, that the ASA complaint in relation to the Facebook advertisement in question was actually raised in 2017. The advertisement which only ran for a few weeks has been taken out of circulation and we have accepted the draft recommendations very recently shared with us by the ASA.”

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