Fertility awareness method (FAM) is a birth control and fertility strategy in which women monitor certain physiological signs in order to track their ovulation, allowing them to better plan a pregnancy or to avoid becoming pregnant. A 2007 study found that when “used perfectly”, FAM has only a 0.6% failure rate for women trying to avoid pregnancy. However, women also use this method to become pregnant. Fortunately, a crop of new fertility tracking apps is making it easier for women to accurately track their physiological signs and determine when they are ovulating. These apps make tracking ovulation via fertility charting and calendars easier and more streamlined.
Smartphone apps such as Kindara and Eve by Glow let women monitor and record physiological signs such as their basal body temperature (BBT) and cervical fluid consistency to determine where they are in their menstrual cycle. Both BBT and cervical fluid noticeably change for women over the course of the month.
Kindara App Screenshot
Body temperature is lower during the first part of a menstrual cycle and typically increases slightly after ovulation, staying elevated until just before a woman’s period starts, when it drops again. Cervical mucus, which women may notice on their underwear, is typically sticky and a cloudy color as an egg begins to ripen and begins to look more like raw egg white just before ovulation. By recording their BBT and cervical mucus consistency on a daily basis using a fertility tracking app, women can fairly accurately determine when they will be ovulating.
Ovulation is a 24 to 48-hour period when a mature egg has been released from the ovaries and is ready to be fertilized in the uterus. It is during this time of the month when a woman can become pregnant. Taking into account that sperm can survive in the body for up to 5 days, there is typically a 6-day window when it is possible for women to conceive. By using a fertility tracking app, women who don’t want to become pregnant can either avoid having sex or use a barrier method of contraception during this window. Women who are trying to become pregnant can plan with their partner to have sexual intercourse during this window to improve their chances of conceiving.
Fertility tracking apps may be particularly appealing to women who have experienced unpleasant side effects when using oral hormone-based birth control or who are having difficulty becoming pregnant. Women who choose to use a fertility tracking app will need to track their physiological signs (BBT and cervical mucus) on a daily basis for the greatest level of accuracy in predicting ovulation. Discussing your medical history and lifestyle will allow you and your doctor to select the best fertility treatment for you.