A Facebook advert for a “contraceptive app” has been banned after the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ruled it to be misleading.

The ruling, posted on 29 August, reveals the advert stated the Natural Cycles app “is a highly accurate, certified, contraceptive app that adapts to every woman’s unique menstrual cycle”.

The paid-for social media ad was posted on Facebook on 20 July 2017.

A video below the text also claimed the app, developed by Natural Cycles Nordic AB Sweden, “offers a new, clinically tested alternative to birth control methods”.

The ASA revealed it had received three complaints that challenged these claims.

The complaints were upheld by the ASA on the grounds that the claims made by Natural Cycles were “misleading”.

As a result, ASA ruled the advert cannot “appear again in the form complained about” and that any future advertising should not imply the app is a “highly accurate method of contraception” or “exaggerate the efficacy of the app in preventing pregnancies”.

Natural Cycles uses algorithms to determine ‘red’ or ‘green’ days, which indicate whether a woman is at risk of pregnancy in the event of unprotected sex on a specific day.

Women must take their temperature at the same time every morning to allow the app to track ovulation and menstrual cycle phases.

In response to the ruling, Natural Cycles said it respected the outcome of ASA’s investigation and that the Facebook ad was removed as soon as it was notified of the complaint.

The company added: “This investigation triggered an internal review of all our advertisements and the way that we communicate more broadly, to ensure our message is clear and provides women with the information they need to determine if Natural Cycles is right for them.

“As part of these efforts, every advertisement now undergoes a strict approval process by a dedicated taskforce to ensure that it gives an accurate overall impression to the viewer.

“We actively seek feedback from Natural Cycles users to help us improve the quality of our communications and, moving forwards, we plan to work even more closely with HCPs [healthcare providers], women and our user community to test and refine our marketing approach.

“Natural Cycles has been independently evaluated and cleared by regulators in Europe and the US based on clinical evidence demonstrating its effectiveness as a method of contraception.”

In January 2018, Digital Health News reported on claims that 37 out of 668 women who sought an abortion at one of Stockholm’s largest hospitals from September to December 2017 were relying on Natural Cycles for birth control.