Whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone, whatever you want to do, there’s an app for that. That includes fertility tracking! There are many apps, some free and some not, to help you track your menstrual period and predict when your most fertile days will occur.
All of them revolve around tracking the first day of your period and how long it lasts. Some of them require you to enter a lot more information.
Is it worth the trouble? Can an app help you have a baby?
How Fertility Tracker Apps Work
The basic science behind fertility trackers is also the basic science behind the rhythm method of birth control. In a 28-day cycle, beginning with the first day of the menstrual period, ovulation normally occurs on day 14. Someone using a fertility tracker inputs the day her period starts, and how long her cycle is, that is, how many days until the first day of her next period.
The tracker then estimates when she will ovulate and be at the height of her fertility for a few days. Period Tracker, Clue, MobileMom and iPeriod are some of the most popular. Some trackers require you to enter data for a number of cycles in order to project when you will ovulate.
Others, like Glow®, ask for a lot of other data, such as stress levels, basal body temperature, smoking, and alcohol intake. Ovia Fertility requires you to input what you eat and drink, and even your blood pressure.
How Well Do the Apps Work?
If your periods are very regular an app may help you determine when you have the best chance of getting pregnant. It’s not clear that all the bells and whistles make a given fertility app work better than a simple period tracker. It is clear that period tracking is not a reliable means of birth control. The method can fail because sperm can stay in the reproductive track for several days, so they may still be around when you think your fertile period is over.
The problem with fertility trackers is that many women have irregular periods. The apps tend to be inaccurate when the length of your period varies, or you even skip one now and then (and are not pregnant.) An irregular cycle may be a sign that you are not ovulating but are having irregular bleeding. If irregular cycles persist and you’re trying to get pregnant, consider seeing your gynecologist. The apps also don’t work well for women whose cycles are less than 21 days or more than 35 days long. .
What’s the Next Step?
If you are 34 years of age or younger and have been trying to get pregnant for a year without success, it may be the right time to consult a reproductive endocrinologist, a fertility specialist who is an expert on reproductive problems. If you are 35 or older and have been trying for six months, or 40 and have been trying for three months, it’s time to pursue treatment.