Quick Guide to Fertility Apps
With over 400 fertility apps on the market today, you may be surprised that there aren’t more women using them. These apps aren’t just for planning when to have a baby; they can also be helpful in avoiding pregnancy by knowing where you are in your cycle on any given day.
However the apps are used, it’s important to input accurate information in order to get the best results. For couples looking to conceive, additional methods may be used to determine when ovulation occurs.
Women interested in taking control of their fertility find a fertility app very helpful in doing this. It allows them to determine when to have intercourse and when to take extra protective measures, such as using a condom.
How It Works
A typical menstrual cycle has three phases. These are:
- Menstruation: This is when a woman experiences menstrual bleeding or the shedding of the uterine lining, indicating she is not pregnant (in most cases).
- Follicular: During this phase, the egg follicle grows, and the egg is released at the end of this phase. That point is called ovulation. You can test if you’re ovulating with a simple urine test. This phase varies depending on the woman and even her lifestyle.
- Luteal: This period is the phase between the point of ovulation and when the next period begins. The luteal phase generally lasts 14 days.
The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, which makes it possible to figure out when ovulation occurs. It’s possible to become pregnant five days before ovulation and on the day of. You’re most fertile on the day of ovulation and three days prior. Within a day (24 hours) after ovulation, conception is no longer a possibility.
A fertility app requires you to input information on your cycle over several months, then it will estimate when your next fertile window occurs. This is then verified with continued information input.
Why Use a Fertility App
There are two main reasons you would use a fertility app. You may be trying to get pregnant and need to know when that is most likely to happen, or you could be aiming to avoid pregnancy.
If you are trying to pinpoint the best time for intercourse in order to get pregnant, timing is of the essence. An app will help you keep track of when you are most likely to ovulate.
Traditional methods of birth control have some serious side effects, particularly if you’re looking at taking hormonal birth control. Nearly 70% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 use some sort of birth control. Of those, just 16.6% of women ages 15-19 use the pill, with usage dropping to 5.2% by age 40-49.
Natural family planning is also referred to as fertility awareness and involves abstaining from sexual intercourse when pregnancy is most likely. Natural family planning is up to 99% effective, when used correctly. An app can help you track your cycle more accurately. This method is popular because it is non-hormonal and doesn’t have side effects. However, it isn’t accurate if you mix up dates, or fail to account for changes in your cycle due to stressors and outside factors.
Not All Apps Are the Same
With so many apps available to track your fertility, it can be difficult to determine which ones are best. This is particularly important if you are trying to avoid pregnancy. The best apps are not as simply as telling them when your period starts and ends. You’ll need to add in extra information.
If you want to be particularly thorough, it’s helpful to get some ovulation tests and double check the results of the app. It’s also important to input the required information for at least 3 months before you rely on the information provided by the app. Three months or three cycles is usually the amount of time required in order to accurately determine what your cycles look like.
Don’t have regular cycles? Between 9-14% of women have irregular periods and these don’t fit neatly into your average fertility app. Due to this, you’ll want to consider an app that allows for irregularity and still helps you plan accordingly.
Top Fertility Apps
Now that you understand how to use a fertility app and how they work, let’s look at some of the top options out there. These are the most accurate on the market and are highly rated by those interested in natural family planning and pregnancy.
Based on scientific data that is frequently updated, Clue is very accurate. It requires inputting your daily symptoms, including discharge, spotting, mood swings, and even energy levels. From this data, along with your period dates, the app gives you the heads up on fertile times, PMS, etc. The app is free for Basic and has a paid upgrade if you want more info.
This app lets you track everything from meals and sleep to exercise and your PMS symptoms. It’s also helpful in providing extra info on your period questions and includes a friendly community of other users. Ovia gives you a daily fertility score so you can check in a split second how likely you are to get pregnant on any given day. It’s also completely free, which is a big bonus.
For those women who are planning to use a fertility app for preventing pregnancy, Natural Cycles is your best option. It’s the only FDA cleared birth control app and is 93% effective. It educates women on the physical signs of fertility, including cervical mucus and a basal body temperature thermometer. You can also add your symptoms for more accurate PMS warnings. This app does require a subscription, plus a fee for the thermometer, but its accuracy makes this work well.
If you tend to have really irregular periods, then Flo is the app you need. It uses AI to work with your symptoms and help you predict fertile periods. Not only is it free, but it uses your own data to figure out when you’re fertile, rather than simply adjusting the data algorithm. Flo is highly regarded for its ability to be flexible.
While you do need to be careful with choosing the right app for your needs, a fertility app can be a great way to track cycles. These apps help women educate themselves on their bodies and learn to read the signals they are experiencing. Overall, it’s a huge leap forward in FemTech.