PCOS: There’s An App For That

Just before Christmas we saw an OBGYN who specializes in high risk pregnancies/deliveries, and she gave us the thumbs up to try again when we’re ready.
Because of my PCOS, it could be hard to conceive again and we could have to go back to a fertility specialist. Although I really like the specialist we were seeing to help us conceive Lily, After moving out of my home town it wasn’t ideal. Going in for cycle monitoring three times a week meant getting up at 5:30am to get there for 7 to get my tests done and be at work for 8:15am.
If we have to see a fertility doctor again, we’ll need a new referral to a new specialist a little closer to home. Before going to see the last doctor I tried to have as much information as possible for her. I used a Google Doc to track my Basal Body Temperature, another one to track my very erratic periods, and all other symptoms just got left out even though I knew it would be useful information to have.

I decided now is as good a time as any to start tracking this stuff again, so that I have a good amount of information to give whatever new doctor we end up seeing. And it turns that some women experience heightened fertility after a delivery or a miscarriage, I’m curious to see if I could be one of those women. So, tracking all this stuff again all around seemed like a good idea. But I wondered if there was a better way than my kinda handy dandy Google Docs.

I used the mighty resource that is Google and found a helpful article about fertility apps. After reading through them and looking up reviews on each one, and then finding other trackers based off those reviews and spending over two hours trying to make a decision based off screenshots and reviews, I finally decided to install 4 free apps on my android phone and see which one I liked the best. It just so happens that the apps I chose were all listed in that original article. Go figure!
On the first day using each of the apps I was able to input limited data for more than a week prior (all the information I could remember.) I have been adding more and more data since, and being a lot more thorough and accurate with each day. Today is my fourth day of active tracking, and I will share with you my thoughts on the apps so far.

Ovia Ovulation and Period
screenshot_2015-12-30-12-28-02.pngHomepage
It offers tidbits of information on the homepage, including reminders of what you have recently tracked and why those things are important. Scrolling down the homepage is kind of like scrolling through a news feed. You see your recent activity with the app as well as articles relating to fertility and health. My favourite part of the home page though is the top of the page it gives you stats for the day and if you swipe sideways here you can see a bar graph of your 14 day fertility forecast.

screenshot_2015-12-30-12-28-22.pngTracking
Everything that you would want or need to put in is all on one page accessible from both the home page and the calendar. Different sections of the tracking are colour coded and some offer descriptions of the terminology to help you make sure your selecting what you mean to. One tiny thing I find irksome is that it asks for the times I went to bed and woke up and from those determines how many hours of sleep I got but if I go back to that page after leaving it the ‘went to bed’ and ‘woke up’ fields are blank and only the amount of sleep remains.
However, I really like that from the top of the tracking page you can navigate to other days.

screenshot_2015-12-30-12-28-13.pngCalendar
At a glance you can see what days you tracked, fertile window and period days. Selecting any day gives you a summary below the calendar of what you tracked that day as well as the option to edit that day.
By default the current day is selected when you first open the calendar.

screenshot_2015-12-30-12-28-32.pngGraphs and Charts
There is one chart that you can select from a drop down menu at the top of the app. It has fertility score and BBT line graphs overlaid on colour coded days that indicate what day of your cycle you’re on.

Overall
Ovia is pretty slick, and seems easy to use. It offers a lot of reading material to help you understand not just what you’re tracking but why you’re tracking it. There is a section called MyQ which asks a bunch of multiple choice questions and I don’t understand the reason for it, and so I see it as superfluous. The main factor is going to be accuracy. If this app can find a pattern in the chaos that is my reproductive system, that will be great! Only time will tell, but as it stands right now I’d give it 4/5 stars.

Clue – Period Tracker
screenshot_2015-12-30-12-45-07.pngHomepage – It is very minimalistic, much like the rest of the app. In the center is a circle that tells you a bit of info about “today” and the green circle on the ring shows you where in the cycle you are. An info button at the top of the page that can explain where in your cycle you are. You can select different days by moving the green circle around the ring and clicking the center ring takes you to the data collection. Everything else is in the menu.

screenshot_2015-12-30-12-45-37.pngTracking
Everything is quite simplistic here. You are given a subject like emotions and there are four to choose from. swipe left and right to change the subject and select which of the four is the best match. No place for BBT tracking.

screenshot_2015-12-30-12-45-13.pngCalendar
I find this to be the busiest part of the whole app and yet I feel like it still provides very little useful information for someone who is trying to conceive or trying to see if their body is ovulating.

screenshot_2015-12-30-12-45-53.pngGraphs and Charts
The closest thing I have found to charting is Cycle History which right now shows very little information for me but will eventually compare my current cycle to my average cycle… Whatever that is. Since I have yet to complete a cycle I’m guessing the top line is based off similar data from other users. In any case I don’t see how this will give me proper information to determine if my body is actually ovulating. Which is one of the main reasons I am tracking.

Overall
I feel like Clue is kinda clueless. I feel like this app should allow me to input more concrete data, and show more information based directly off the data I have entered. I feel like the audience for this app is young women just starting to try and figure out their body’s cycle and rhythm, and not for someone looking for a tool to help collect and compare data to understand the finer details of their fertility. A lot of women with PCOS get irregular periods that are not preceded or followed by ovulation. By not actually tracking BBT, and not using BBT and CM data over time to find a correlation I don’t see how this app could accurately predict ovulation. I see this more as a record of past periods and a lot of guesswork going forward. But, the writeups I read said that it’s a learning app and gets smarter over time. The big test will be how well it predicts my next cycle, but I think this is going to be the first app I scrap. Current score: 2.5/5.

Fertility Friend Tracker
Homepage
The calendar and graphs/charts make up the home page. Scrolling down the page you see a lot of data… It’s just a little painful to look at. There’s no summary of information, no prompts to track as soon as you load the app. It’s very cut and dry. “Here’s your calendar and some visuals of your data. Go.”

screenshot_2015-12-30-15-18-13.pngTracking
clicking on a day from the calendar allows you to track data for that day. The interface to fill in data seems cumbersome. some fields are simply click to fill and others you click to open a menu. I tend to fill out parts of the tracker throughout the day, and I find that every time I go in I have to open up all the menus because I can’t remember what is inside or if I have filled it out. Tracking on here is a hassle.

screenshot_2015-12-30-15-00-35.png

Calendar
At a glance you can see periods and fertile days. Predicted menstrual and fertile days are indicated by either a pink box or green box respectively around the days. Ones that have already occurred the boxes are filled in. The app uses different gradients of the colours to indicate the intensity of the event. A heavy flow day is darker than a medium or light. On the calendar different coloured shapes appear when you track certain things. I am still not sure what they all mean.

screenshot_2015-12-30-15-00-41.pngscreenshot_2015-12-30-15-00-49.pngscreenshot_2015-12-30-15-00-55.pngGraphs and Charts
The graphs and charts are hard to read. A lot of information is presented, but it barely fits on the screen and I find the font and colours quite hard to look at. The copyright at the bottom of the chart says 1998-2015. It definitely looks a lot more like 1998 than 2015.

Overall
This app was among the first of it’s kind. A lot of reviews I found were by women who swear by this app. This app feels like an old professor, who still writes on a chalkboard and speaks slowly. If you have the patience to sit there and read the notes and listen closely you could learn a lot… If you don’t fall asleep first.
There is an icon at the bottom of the app for analysis. Clicking on this gives a list to interpretations of different aspects of the data you have entered. It is interesting to read through because it doesn’t just tell you you’re in a fertile window, but what evidence you have provided for it to come to that conclusion.
I just wish this app was more slick. I hate using it. It’s so hard to look at and not as easy to use as some of the others.
At this point I’m going to give it a 3.5/5.

Glow – Ovulation & Fertility
screenshot_2015-12-30-15-43-43.pngHomepage
Days are colour coded for what phase of your cycle you are in. Today’s date is highlighted and under the date a message is displayed it oscillates between a countdown to next period or fertile window depending on where in your cycle you are and a percentage likelihood of getting pregnant at this point in your cycle. Scrolling down that page you will see a couple of cards, sometimes they will be surveys, sometimes they will link to the larger community, sometimes they will be directly related to what you have tracked. From this page you can directly access the tracking interface.

screenshot_2015-12-30-15-48-31.pngTracking
I love gamification! Every day you can see your health awareness as a percentage, and it is a personal goal for me to reach 100%. When it’s sitting just below I just have to know what I missed, what I didn’t track. Actually putting in data is pretty easy, a lot of yes or no questions. If you choose ‘yes’, it opens up for more information, if you hit ‘no’ that section stays closed. It’s pretty straight forward.

screenshot_2015-12-30-15-43-57.pngCalendar
This calendar is pretty simple. It shows menstrual cycle, fertile window and a check mark if you have tracked. It makes no differentiation in intensity or between what has been experienced versus what is predicted. Clicking on any date in the calendar will take you to the homepage for that day, and from there you can add more tracking details.

screenshot_2015-12-30-16-31-40.pngGraphs and Charts
Going into the genius tab there is a section for charts. It shows BBT on one chart and weight on another. Both are overlaid on a grid that only differentiates for period.
I don’t really find these charts useful. Maybe that will change over time, but as it stands right now I feel they are lacking.

Overall
This is the most fun of the apps to use. I makes gathering data the easiest. I don’t feel like it draws enough information from the data I have submitted to inform me of what my body is doing. The insights so far have all been about why collecting different types of data is important, not about what my data is showing.
There is a community aspect to this app, with the ability to connect you to other people using the app. I’m not so fond of that feature right now, especially because the initial news feed in that section tend to be a lot of pictures of positive pregnancy tests.
There is also the option for your partner to make a profile, and track different things. You can link the profiles and gain a sense of your mutual fertility. David doesn’t want to do that.
Again, the final score will come from how accurately it will help me see what is going on with me. But for now it’s a solid 4/5.

When I first started with these apps they were all giving me wildly different predictions, and while none of them completely agree with each other, every day they look a little more similar. That is pretty cool. I’ll try and follow up after a month of consistent use and we can see which trackers are worth the no money I paid for them.

2 thoughts on “PCOS: There’s An App For That

  1. I’ve been using FertilityFriend for about 8 months now, and I love it, but I use it from their website, and I don’t really enjoy the new layout they have (they’ve revamped it to make it more ‘hip’ I suppose). I also use a paid account because I wanted to support them and I like the paid features. I’ve learned a lot from it, and reading my charts has been awesome. Hasn’t helped me getting pregnant at all, but it has helped me determine “hey, I ovulated this month, yay!” or “welp, nothing this month I guess.” Piece of mind in knowing.

    • I haven’t been to the website. I’ve only used it on my phone. I haven’t been to any of the websites. As I said in the post, Fertility Friend does have a lot of positive feedback and I do think there is a lot to learn from there. Maybe I should check out the website…

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