Given the proportion of Kenyan women not using hormonal contraceptives, the country appears to have a substantial need for a modern, natural family planning option. The CycleBeads® mobile phone application (app), a digital platform for the Standard Days Method® of family planning, could help address this issue.
After the CycleBeads app was promoted in Kenya in May–June 2015, a three-month pilot study was conducted to collect quantitative and qualitative data from 185 female app users. Chi-square testing, binary logistic regression and thematic content analysis were used to assess whether the app brought new users to family planning, to understand users' experiences and to assess how user experiences vary by distribution channel.
Participants learned about the app through nongovernmental organizations (17%), via digital media (33%) or from family or friends (50%). Most used the app to track their periods (54%) or prevent pregnancy (37%); a few used it to plan a pregnancy (7%) or for other reasons (2%). The main reason for choosing the Standard Days Method was fear of side effects from hormonal methods (64%). The majority of women found the app and method easy to use (53%). Among those preventing pregnancy, 42% had never before used a method. By midline, all participants knew when fertile days occurred, and most (97%) knew the method's cycle-length requirements. Women reported high rates of condom use (88%), abstinence (68%) and withdrawal (46%) on fertile days.
Offering the CycleBeads app to support women in use of the Standard Days Method may expand family planning options, reduce unmet need and make family planning more widely available.
At the time this article was written, Victoria Shelus was research officer, Nicki Ashcroft was program officer, Sarah Burgess was research officer and Monica Giuffrida was program associate—all at the Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Victoria Jennings is director, Institute for Reproductive Health.