A Fitbit for periods

Fertility tracking apps help women know when they’re ovulating

(ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

Fertility tracking apps, such as Kindara, are helping women to find out exactly when they can and cannot get pregnant. The new technology is an application of the fertility awareness method (FAM), in which women chart their menstrual cycles in order to predict when they might be fertile. A woman can only become pregnant during ovulation, a 24- to 48-hour period, and sperm can only survive in the body for as long as five days. That means there are only six days per month when sex can lead to conception — the trouble is knowing when ovulation starts.

The basis behind fertility tracking apps is that ovulation creates externally detectable signs, including an increase in body temperature and the secretion of egg-white mucus from the vagina. If practiced perfectly, fertility awareness can be almost as effective as the pill at preventing pregnancy — a 2007 study in Germany found that under conditions of perfect use only 0.6 percent of patients became pregnant over the course of a year.

Given the practical difficulty of predicting individual ovulation, however, few doctors endorse FAM as a form of contraception. But the tech entrepreneurs behind period tracking apps say that by gathering unprecedented amounts of data about understudied aspects of how female bodies work, they can revolutionize reproductive medicine. And, for starters, apps such as Kindara are using tools, such as Kindara’s custom thermometer, the “Wink,” so that women can know, not guess, when they’ve started ovulating.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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