Most women use fertility trackers to track their ovulation when their LH surges, when their next period will come, and many other reasons. The market has many trackers, but which of them is the most preferable? Or the most accurate?
In this blog, let me tell you why we need to track and what are the best trackers to use.
How do ovulation trackers help people get pregnant?
Knowing when you are ovulating is crucial to determine the correct time frame for sex so that pregnancy can happen. Most women were never taught about ovulation or the 'fertile window,' so ovulation trackers can help predict ovulation so that couples know when is the ideal time to try to conceive. Unfortunately, not all ovulation trackers are made equal. Some trackers calculate the fertile window based on the last menstrual cycle and overall menstrual history, input and tracked by the woman (these would more accurately be labeled period trackers). More accurate ovulation trackers rely on data collection to assess the fertile window and predict or confirm ovulation.
What body signs do they generally track?
More advanced trackers rely on several key factors:
1) Basal Body Temperatures - most accurately measured at the core of the body, i.e., the torso.
2) Hormone metabolites - usually involve peeing on a stick, and different trackers measure different hormones.
3) Cervical mucus - usually involves the insertion of a vaginal device to assess OR manually assess cervical fluid
Depending on which tracker we look at, they may use a combination of data collection to calculate and predict ovulation accurately.
How accurate are ovulation trackers generally? Are different tracking techniques more accurate than others?
There are no generalizations. When a woman is considering which tracker to use, it should be a discussion with her provider team because each couple will be different, and their priorities will also be dissimilar. Basal body temperature trackers are a great starting point because of the ease of use and because we can gather crucial information about hormonal fluctuations and ovulation prediction. The caveat about BBT-driven trackers is that they are not helpful for women with irregular cycles since most BBT trackers only confirm ovulation based on temperature rise post-ovulation. There are specific nuances, but for an average user, BBT-based predictors may only be partially accurate for someone struggling with fertility and trying to figure things out independently. Second, basal body temperatures are precise only when measured at the body's core, so devices that measure temperature at the extremities will be less accurate. Again, it can be helpful for general use, but it needs to be more accurate for someone struggling with fertility for over six months. Even though BBT-based trackers may not be super helpful in predicting ovulation, they can be beneficial in confirming ovulation. For women who want to put their minds at ease that ovulation is happening in the correct time frame and that it is indeed happening in every cycle, it is helpful to have an accurate BBT tracker on board.
What are the main differences between ovulation tracking and period tracking?
Period trackers generally predict when you will be starting your cycle. Some do that solely based on history. For example, if your cycle is always 27-28 days, most period trackers can accurately say that 27 days from your Day 1, you are likely to start your next menstrual cycle. Some of those trackers extrapolate information about ovulation; this is where things get wonky! Most of these period trackers consider that ovulation will happen around the halfway point of a cycle, so for a 28-day cycle, ovulation will occur around cycle day 14... and hence, will give the woman an ovulation prediction or fertile window from cycle day 10-17. And, in general, that maybe be sufficient for a woman attempting to prevent pregnancy. However, for a woman actively trying to conceive, this prediction may need to be more accurate and adequate because the tracker is not using any actual data, just generalized prediction based on textbook definitions of normal. In reality, this same woman who has a "regular cycle" may be ovulating before or after this predicted window and may not be conceiving solely because of the inaccurate prediction from this tracker.
In a woman actively trying to conceive, it's imperative to have more information to increase accuracy. Basal body temperature trackers can be beneficial if they measure core body temperature, contribute to more accurate prediction, and offer confirmation of ovulation.
In more advanced cases, adding hormone-based predictors (such as Oova or Proov) and even cervical mucus trackers such as Kegg can be helpful.
What are the different types of fertility trackers?
There are various types of fertility monitors on the market today. As Brian A Levine, M.D., an attending physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, explains: Some apps use the counting method where you manually input the number of days in your cycle, and then it uses an algorithm to estimate when you are ovulating. Some use thermometers and other biometric measurements to detect a hormonal surge that precedes ovulation. And some newer apps/devices measure the hormones in your saliva or urine to detect the hormonal changes that naturally occur during a cycle.
Wearable fertility monitors: These devices sit against your skin — typically overnight — to monitor your basal body temperature and heart rate. Most of these devices sync with your smartphone to store the data. Over time, they can detect trends to help you pinpoint ovulation.
Digital fertility monitors: These standalone devices typically include sticks that you urinate on, then plug into the machine so that it can measure hormone output. Typically, there's a screen that displays digital results, but sometimes they sync to your phone and deliver the results that way.
Thermometers: Though these devices don't measure more than your basal body temperature, there is a new crop of smart thermometers you can use to more easily keep track of the results and identify trends that point to ovulation.
Wands: These sticks look and function like pregnancy tests — you urinate on them, and the test measures for high levels of luteinizing hormone to predict when you're ovulating. There's no smart functionality here, but it's a relatively affordable, basic, yet effective option. (Source: whattoexpect.com)
How to choose the right fertility tracker for you?
Experts say fertility trackers are a great at-home option for women trying to conceive. "Fertility awareness is important, and apps and tools are a positive thing," says Dr. Levine. "But remember: They're just guides. The best assessment is seeing a fertility doctor and having an ultrasound and blood work." But if you could benefit from that guidance, here's what you should think about before hitting purchase:
Cost: Many fertility trackers cost upwards of $100 — and often more. Though you may be willing to get pregnant at any cost, these devices are a true investment, so make sure you choose wisely. Don't just spring for the most expensive one, assuming it's superior. The right fertility tracker fits your needs (outlined below).
Your cycle: If you have a standard 28-day cycle, you don't need anything too fancy. One of the more basic options — like wands — might be worth trying before opting for more complex monitors. Conversely, if you have a cycle that's difficult to predict — maybe you have a condition like PCOS — you may want to go straight for one of the more sophisticated models.
Lifestyle: Do you work nights or frequently dash out of bed to tend to a toddler? Basal body thermometers and wearables come with specific instructions that involve nighttime use and capturing statistics before getting out of bed. Think about whether or not this would be practical for you.
How long you've been TTC: If you just started your journey to parenthood, you might consider trying something more basic and inexpensive first — like wands or one of the more affordable wearables. But if you've been TTC for years, a sophisticated monitor that may be able to provide more clues is probably worth the investment. (Source: whattoexpect.com)
The tracker that I recommend:
Tempdrop is the tracker I want my patients to use because of its accuracy. Here's the link from where you can order with a discount --> http://tempdrop.refr.cc/aumatmas