An online advert for an app that claims to provide a reliable and effective alternative to contraception has been banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The watchdog found that the Swedish company’s claims that its app and thermometer combination were “highly accurate” and “provided a clinically tested alternative to other birth control methods” were found to be misleading.

The ASA warned Natural Cycles “not to exaggerate” its efficacy and said the Facebook advertisement must not appear again in its current form.

In its ruling, the ASA reviewed the clinical literature and whilst it did not dispute the claims made by the firm in perfect-use settings, it noted that “only 9.6% of cycles were considered as perfect-use, where the app had been used precisely as instructed”, which would significantly reduce the reliability of the birth control method in real world “typical use” settings.

Overall, the ASA found “the evidence did not demonstrate that in typical-use it was “highly accurate” and because it was significantly less effective than the most reliable birth control methods…in the context of the ad the claim was likely to mislead”.

Natural Cycles said it respected the outcome of the investigation and removed the ad in mid-2017 as soon as it was notified of the complaint.

Launched in 2014, 300,000 women currently pay a monthly or annual fee to use the app and associated basal body thermometer to track their menstrual cycle based on small changes to resting body temperature. Earlier this month it became the first digital method of birth control approved by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in the US.


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