How many times a day do you open an app on your phone or tablet? Quite often, we bet! Apps have become a handy go-to for a wide range of functions, from connecting with others to sharing photos to storing important information. And of course, with so many apps available to address such a wide variety of modern day needs, it’s not that surprising that apps meant to help women track their ovulation dates are now available for download.

Unfortunately, if you’ve ever used an app you know that not every app works as well as it should. The trick for hopeful mothers, then, is to find an app that assists their fertility efforts rather than hinders them. With so many tracking apps available today – and so many women asking questions about them – we want to discuss a couple common questions that couples may have as they head to the app store to find a fertility aid for their digital device:

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The short answer is, “It depends.” As is so often the case with ovulation and fertility, there are many things to consider when determining if an app can actually help you track your ovulation date accurately or not.

As anyone who has browsed an app store knows, there are many medical and fertility apps available for use. Some are basic in design, only tracking one or two fertility related pieces; others are more complicated and allow for a large number of items to be tracked and calculated. We’ve found that even the basic apps can definitely be an extremely convenient supplementary tool for parents-to-be that want to keep their planning and health information in one place. Unfortunately, when used on their own, a large number of these basic apps don’t really provide useful ovulation tracking feedback. This is because basic ovulation apps cannot take the many different factors that impact ovulation into consideration, and instead use simple algorithms to give women approximate ovulation dates. These dates are often estimated using the most basic data point available: the date when a woman’s period begins each month. Apps like this basically act as a paperless calendar method tracker. But remember, the calendar method itself is not perfect – which is why using an app that’s this simple, without combining it with another tracking method, is not recommended for couples that are trying for a baby.

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By design, many basic ovulation tracking apps have some major limitations that impact their effectiveness. The most serious limitation is the fact that most basic apps can only provide data based on the average length of previous cycles. This means that these apps have absolutely no way of accounting for outside influences, such as stress, which may impact your ovulation date from month to month.

 

Because apps rely on algorithms and computers, they are also not a good fit for women with irregular cycles. Experts also do not recommend using an app if your cycle is shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days. Personally, we don’t recommend ever only using a basic app on its own, as we’ve heard too many tales from couples who did so without success.

Ultimately, the only surefire way to make sure that your app is giving you accurate information about your ovulation dates is to supplement the information in your app with data from additional ovulation tracking methods. Doing so will give you a clearer picture of your overall fertility, and give you a better chance of predicting your most fertile dates each month.

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The good news is that there are apps that will take your tracking efforts to the next level, beyond what basic “calendar method” apps can offer. These tracking apps allow you to input other types of data in addition to your menstruation dates. For example, some apps allow you to input your daily basal body temperature information. Other apps can even help you track your cervical mucus throughout the month! By using an app to track the data that the basal body temperature method or the cervical mucus method has to offer, you can create a more complete digital picture on your phone or tablet – and your app will have a better chance of correctly calculating when your next fertile window is coming up.

As you can see, apps can be a surprisingly tricky tool to use when addressing fertility. It may take some trial and error to find the right app for you – but if an app sounds like a tool you’d like to use, we definitely recommend investing the time and energy into finding one that’s a great fit for you!