Devices and apps for in-home use help couples take charge of their fertility.
One of the reasons I went into reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) is my passion for technology. As a young medical student, I was absolutely amazed by the melding of science and technology with the world’s smallest and most intricate surgery: intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), whereby a single sperm is injected into a single egg. As I learned more about REI, it was the technology that truly hooked me! Take for example preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), whereby a single cell (at the 8-cell stage) or a sample of the trophectoderm of an embryo (at the blastocyst stage) is removed for genetic testing. These microscopic procedures are done with extreme precision and have yielded hundreds of thousands, if not millions of babies.
Years later, as a practicing REI, technology is what once again keeps me loving my job. Yes, I’m still in awe of ICSI, PGD, egg freezing, advances in embryo culture, and the ability to reliably transfer a single euploid embryo. But, I’m also quite interested in the technologies that my patients are adopting in their fertility journeys. Almost every patient I see for an initial consult describes her cycle regularity through use of a menstrual-tracking companion app. Many women use ovulation predictor kits that range from store-branded simple positive/negative strips, to advanced monitors that have Bluetooth connectivity and alert the patient to her fertile window. Here I review 3 of the newest technologies that are helping patients achieve their dreams of becoming parents.
If your patient loves data, Kindara is the app for her! As opposed to most other fertility aids, Kindara does not simply ask the patient to just enter her menstrual calendar. Kindara is the repository of all information regarding a woman’s cycle (depending on how much information she wants to share). In the most basic utilization, a user can enter characteristics about her menstruation (onset of menses and level of flow), which helps the app know when she has started a new cycle. The patient can then layer on information about her cervical mucus (although Kindara calls it fluid) with descriptors of its consistency (sticky, creamy, egg-white, or watery) to help predict when ovulation will occur. Together, these data sets help predict the “fertile window”—the time when a patient may ovulate.
To help increase Kindara’s accuracy, patients can also input daily basal body temperature (BBT) recordings to deduce if/when ovulation occurred. Taken together, the data can allow a patient generate a highly accurate noninvasive record of her cycle which can help her not only understand her cycle, but also aid her reproductive endocrinologist through creation of beautiful charts/graphs.
Kindara app also allows for tracking of other parameters such as frequency of sex, travel, and ovulation predictor kit results, which can help put the pieces together when a woman has an irregular cycle. Furthermore, the app allows for social networking with other users in a virtual community that is an incredible resource for women who are truly struggling with trying to get pregnant and may feel isolated.
Lastly, given that few (if any) of us own a highly accurate oral thermometer, Kindara has developed a companion device called Wink, which is an oral thermometer meant to be left on the night stand to allow patients to capture their temperature and the time it was taken. These data are then synced automatically with the Kindara app.