When I first tried for a baby it was easy – first month we tried, bam – pregnant. Then, after our devastating Tay-Sachs diagnosis it wasn’t so easy. I was anxious and it didn’t happen straight away. It only took four months, not that long really, but in that time I became obsessed with tracking my cycle, taking my temperature every day and charting it, checking my cervical mucous (!) and talking to other women online. I then progressed to buying ovulation sticks to pee on that show you when your hormones are surging. I found a website, now an app called Fertility Friend, which allows you to have a visual chart of your progress. It was great for a control freak like me, and I learnt a lot about the changes that indicate your fertile window. I also learnt I have a longer than average cycle and I ovulate fairly late in it.
Of course, you can just have regular sex and hope for the best, but it does help when you know exactly when the best legs in the air-orgasm must have-stick a hot water bottle on your tummy afterwards time is. Yes, they are all tips to help the little swimmers reach their nice warm target. Oh, and it’s better if he has abstained for at least a day or two to build up his sperm count. For women who are struggling, with no known fertility issues, cycle tracking does work.
Now there’s a new gadget in town to help women on their journey towards parenthood. It’s called Ava and it’s a wearable fertility and cycle tracker that you can use to accurately predict the fertilie window in your cycle, usually about 5 days. It seems to work much like a fitness tracker does, you wear it like a watch and it syncs with an app on your phone (available on android and IOS) and it tracks not just your heart rate, but your breathing, sleep, heart rate variability, temperature. There are nine parameters in total used for measurement, including Bioimpedance, which provides information about the skin, including hydration and sweating patterns. This is because reproductive hormones have an impact on your skin. Your skin can change at different phases of the menstrual cycle, during puberty, and during pregnancy. You wear the Ava bracelet while you sleep, so it’s not influenced by physical activity, then sync it with the app in the morning.
What makes the Ava bracelet unique?
Instead of just relying on one measurement to indicate ovulation, Ava is the first product to use sensor technology to detect fertility status in real-time, allowing for more accurate predictions with minimal user involvement.
Most fertility monitoring products are based on a single parameter, providing an incomplete picture of the user’s fertility status. These parameters include basal body temperature, and urinary LH (the hormone detected in the pee sticks). Used alone, none of these methods is able to accurately detect both the beginning of the fertile window and confirm ovulation. Furthermore, the reliability of a single parameter may be compromised by other factors. For these reasons, many women use multiple fertility tracking methods simultaneously, which can be a tedious and time consuming process.
Ava tracks multiple physiological parameters that correlate with fertility, removing the need for the user to track multiple parameters herself while also providing more accurate predictions.
What’s the evidence that Ava actually works?
The wearable ovulation predictor and cycle tracker is registered as a Class 1 medical device in the US, Ava was proven in a clinical study at the University Hospital of Zurich to detect an average of 5.3 fertile days per cycle with 89% accuracy. The year-long study was conducted under the leadership of Prof. Brigitte Leeners, a leading expert on the mathematical modelling of menstrual cycles. A second clinical study, also led by Prof. Leeners, is currently underway with results expected later this year. Professor Leeners explains:
“Women spend so much time and emotional energy trying to accurately track their cycles, often using multiple methods in tandem. Specifically, timing intercourse around ovulation is critical for conceiving, but the current options for doing so are inadequate. We’re long overdue for a device like Ava that detects the fertile window precisely and easily.”
According to Ava co-founder Lea von Bidder, fertility tracking is just the beginning of exciting possibilities for Ava’s cycle-tracking technology. She points to research the company is planning to further refine its algorithms for use in pregnancy monitoring, and possible use as a non-hormonal contraceptive device. Von Bidder states:
“Many women don’t realise how central a role the menstrual cycle plays in understanding their overall health. In the past, precise information about the cycle was so difficult to come by that only women who were trying to get pregnant would go through the trouble. With Ava, we’re making it easy for all women to get more information about their cycles than has ever been available, more easily than ever before.”
How much does Ava cost and where can I buy it?
At the moment, it’s just come on to the UK market, and it’s available to buy from the Ava women website for £199. It can be pricey for some, but it’s a lot cheaper than buying lots of ovulation predictor kits, pregnancy tests, thermometers and the like! You can also use it for monitoring your sleep, stress and resting pulse rate once you get pregnant, and then use it again for the next one! Once you’re done baby making you can always sell it on, the re-sale value is high.
Can anyone use Ava to track their fertility?
There are some limitations. If your cycle is commonly less than 24 days or more than 35 days it may not be as accurate. If you have PCOS it may not be for you. Future versions of Ava will support more irregular cycles.
What do you think? Would you use a device like this to track your cycle and pinpoint your fertile window? How easy was it for you to get pregnant?
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