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Do fertility tracking applications offer women useful information about their fertile window?

Ali, R; Gürtin, ZB; Harper, JC; (2020) Do fertility tracking applications offer women useful information about their fertile window? Reproductive BioMedicine Online 10.1016/j.rbmo.2020.09.005. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

RESEARCH QUESTION: To characterize mobile fertility tracking applications (apps) to determine the use of such apps for women trying to conceive by identifying the fertile window. DESIGN: An exploratory cross-sectional audit study was conducted of fertility tracking applications. Ninety out of a possible total 200 apps were included for full review. The main outcome measures were the underlying app method for predicting ovulation, the fertile window, or both, price to download and use the app, disclaimers and cautions, information and features provided and tracked, and app marketing strategies. RESULTS: All the apps except one monitored the women’s menstrual cycle dates. Most apps only tracked menstrual cycle dates (n = 49 [54.4%]). The remainder tracked at least one fertility-based awareness method (basal body temperature, cervical mucus, LH) (n = 41 [45.6%]). Twenty-five apps measured dates, basal body temperature, LH and cervical mucus (27.8%). Seventy-six per cent of apps were free to download with free apps having more desirable features, tracking more measures and having more and better quality educational insights than paid apps. Seventy per cent of apps were classified as feminine apps, 41% of which were pink in colour. CONCLUSIONS: Mobile fertility tracking apps are heterogenous in their underlying methods of predicting fertile days, the price to obtain full app functionality, and in content and design. Unreliable calendar apps remain the most commonly available fertility apps on the market. The unregulated nature of fertility apps is a concern that could be addressed by app regulating bodies. The possible benefit of using fertility apps to reduce time to pregnancy needs to be evaluated.

Type: Article
Title: Do fertility tracking applications offer women useful information about their fertile window?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2020.09.005
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2020.09.005
Language: English
Additional information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Reproductive Healthcare Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Keywords: Apps, Conception, Fertile window, Fertility, Menstrual cycle
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health > Reproductive Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10114466
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