Contraception is important for many women and one of the most common reasons they visit their doctors. However, not every form of birth control is right for every woman.
For example, women who have particular medical conditions may require some guidance from their physician or OB/GYN who would recommend the safest form of birth control.
That's the reason why medical providers are in constant search for good point-of-care resources providing contraception information.
One of the best known and most important resources is the United States Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive (US MEC) published by CDC in 2010.
These guidelines are comprehensive and evidence-based recommendations for the use of specific contraceptive methods by patients who have certain characteristics or medical conditions, which are also available as a mobile app for Android and iPhone.
The Contraception app is useful for any provider who works with patients on contraceptive issues. Originally published in 2012, the app has been updated to include the latest recommendations from the recent 2016 US MEC guidelines as well as Selected Practice Recommendations (SPR) for contraceptive use.
Upon opening, the app displays simple home page allowing providers to search the MEC by a medical condition or contraceptive method, as well as view practice recommendations in a separate section.
Tapping to view contraception guidelines by condition, opens an alphabetical list consisting not only of various medical conditions but also age, therapy and habits, such as smoking, which could all affect the use of contraceptives. Medical conditions range from anatomical abnormalities, breast disease, cervical cancer, to hypertension, obesity, and uterine fibroids. Patient's history and risk factors are included as well.
Opening the condition with a plus symbol next to it usually expands the list displaying additional qualifiers, while the conditions with arrow sign would open to the list of recommended methods, including IUD, implants, pills, and so on, along with the recommendation levels, which are color-coded (green to red) and range from 1-4. The method is less recommended if the number is higher.
There is also a list of emergency contraception methods, as well as additional methods that should be considered.
Tapping on method opens a page with a brief comment on recommendation, with clarification or evidence (if applicable).
There is also 'View SPR' button that explains each method in more detail, including initiation, exams and tests, follow-up recommendations, recommendations for bleeding irregularities, management of specific conditions, etc. Of course, these recommendations depend on the type of the method they explain.
The MEC by Method section, as its name suggests, displays various contraceptive options ranging from intrauterine and hormonal contraceptives to withdrawal and sterilization.
Selecting the method of contraception opens a list of conditions, which is abbreviated to addresses the use of a particular contraceptive method in patients with specific medical conditions that might be affected by contraceptive use.
For example, if you want to check how combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs) might impact the patients with deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism, tap on both, which would bring up a list of further qualifiers, including history of DVT/PE without therapy, with anticoagulant therapy, based on surgery type, etc.
By choosing the most suitable condition and the qualifier that best fits, you'd get the appropriate recommendations for your patients.
Again, the recommendations are color-coded with four levels. If the chosen method is not recommended for the particular medical condition, a level 4 in red would be displayed. Recommended methods are shown in green with a level 1. Levels 2 and 3 shown in light green and pink, indicate a more cautious approach, providing evidence information and comments.
MEC by Method section also includes additional information on emergency contraception and recommendations for other contraceptive methods.
Finally, the SPR section on the home page includes all practice recommendations in one spot, along with a quick reference on how to be reasonably certain that a woman is not pregnant and when women can stop using contraceptives.
There are also several other sections in this app, including About, Full Guidelines, Provider Tools, and Resources.
About section contains an introduction to MEC and SPR methods, describes how to use both methods and recommendations provided in the app, explains MEC levels, and more.
Full Guidelines, as its name suggests, links to the full guidelines on the CDC website, while Provider Tools section contains PDF documents of various charts and guidelines regarding contraception, family planning, examination and follow-up instructions, management recommendations, and more.
The last section in the app, named Resources contains external links to various resources on the CDC website, such as STD Treatment Guides and Preconception Health.
The design of the app is clean and simple, with an easy-to-use interface. However, I had a slight problem with navigation, namely with the Home button. The home page would be displayed, but the previous page would still sticking out from the right portion of the screen.
The app features History button, which tracks all the pages you visited and enables you easier access. While this is useful, after a while it can become crowded and confusing. A better option would be having a Favorite section and a star icon on every page, enabling users to bookmark them.
Overall, CDC Contraception is an amazing app and useful tool for all providers who need to guide their patients in contraception use and help them choose the safest form of birth control.
The app is written in technical language, which makes it suitable for medical professionals only.
Benefit: Any provider who prescribes various contraceptive methods to their patients would benefit from this app