Good news for women charting fertility to increase their chances of getting pregnant.
Ditch your pencil-and-paper calendar, because smartphone apps will do the calculations for you. Just enter information about your period each month.
How fertility tracking apps work
Most apps have a calendar you use to track each day of your period. They use that information to predict when you’re ovulating and when you’ll get your next period.
If your app isn’t accurate the first few months you use it, don’t give up, said Dr. Sarah Goetz, a Marshfield Clinic OB-GYN physician.
“When you first start using the app it doesn’t have any information about you personally,” she said. “It defaults to the average 28-day menstrual cycle, which most women don’t have. Once you track three or four cycles it will be more accurate.”
Some apps let you enter details about basal body temperature and cervical mucus. This information can be helpful in predicting when you’re ovulating, but Goetz said tracking it isn’t essential.
Increase your chances of getting pregnant
Fertility tracking apps predict the days of the month you’re most likely to get pregnant.
Unprotected sex every other day during that fertile window increases a couple’s chances of getting pregnant, Goetz said. More often won’t increase those chances.
“It’s common to take several months to get pregnant,” she said. “A fertile man and woman have a 15 percent chance of getting pregnant each cycle.”
Goetz recommended seeing a doctor if you’re younger than 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year without success. For women 35 and older, see a doctor after six months.
Not just for trying to conceive
Fertility tracking apps are useful for predicting your next period, tracking irregular bleeding and trying to avoid pregnancy.
If you’re having irregular bleeding, your doctor will want to know when it happened and how severe it was. You can keep track of both using an app.
A word of warning for couples using apps for natural family planning to avoid pregnancy — it takes several months of data for the app to accurately predict when you’re ovulating. Relying on the app early on could result in an unexpected pregnancy, Goetz said.
Choosing an app
Look for an app that tracks menstruation and predicts your next period and fertile days of the month. Period Tracker Lite is a good option for most women.
“Most free or inexpensive apps have the functions any woman would need,” Goetz said.