The limitations of ovulation calculators and fertility apps

A lot of women who are serious about getting pregnant turn to online searches and fertility apps. But really, are these going to help you conceive? Can the information provided by apps make all the difference? What do you really need to know? There are more than a hundred fertility apps available, so it is important to understand if using an app is actually going to help you to conceive, or whether it will just add to the stress of it all.

Getting the timing right

The most common question when trying to conceive is around the timing of ovulation. After all, you need to ovulate (release an egg) and time sex with ovulation if there is ever going to be a chance of pregnancy.  Ovulation calculators and Fertility Apps are suggested to help you get the timing right, to increases your chances. In theory this should be helpful but, in reality, there is a lot of mis-information which can actually decrease your chances of pregnancy. If you are given the wrong information, you can end up having sex too early or too late in your cycle to conceive.

Ovulation calculators

Ovulation calculators are actually just predicting when you ovulate, based on the information you plug in, such as when your period started and how long your cycles are.  They are generally calculating ovulation to be in the middle of your cycle, or 14 days before your period is due to start if you have longer cycles. They are predicting the day you ovulate, and not correctly factoring in the days that you are fertile before you ovulate.  Ovulation calculators predict based on what happened last cycle, not what might happen this cycle or future cycles.

In reality, menstrual cycles vary greatly from woman to woman, and even month to month for a lot of people. Cycles can vary from 21 to 35 days, with ovulation happening anywhere from day 8 to 25. We can be fertile 2 to 5 days before ovulation, so it is helpful to factor this in to give yourself the best chance of conceiving.

Fertility apps

Fertility apps generally require more information from the user, depending on the app you choose to use. Details such as period dates, mood, sexual activity, basal body temperature, and description of mucous are entered by the user every day, and in theory you are told when you are most fertile, or ovulating. The idea is right, but there is a lot of detail that is open to interpretation. With mucous for example, some descriptions won’t fit with what the app requires to give you accurate information. Details and variations can’t be factored into an app which all affects the likelihood of its success. Knowing the basics of the body and your menstrual cycle is important in understanding the science in your fertile symptoms. Fertility apps are great tools when used as a period tracker, but not a fertility tracker. Here are some important factors to remember:

  • Fertility apps and ovulation calculators are less likely to work if you have irregular cycles.
  • You need to be having sex in the days before you ovulate as well as when you ovulate.
  • There is no real evidence that apps are more helpful than other methods of fertility tracking.
  • Fertility apps don’t acknowledge the male’s role in baby making – male factors account for half of the causes of infertility so they shouldn’t be discounted in the process.

Fertility Treatments

So how are women meant to acquire all of this fertility knowledge? We definitely aren’t taught it in high school, meaning there is a huge gap in knowledge that affects every woman – whether you are wanting to have a baby or not. Most women won’t realise that there are trained health professionals that specialise in natural fertility and fertility education, so they take control of the situation and use an app to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, an app can’t replace real advice from a medical professional and give you the information you really need to know.

Seed Fertility can get you up to speed with insightful fertility knowledge and set you on your path to pregnancy.


Bex Henderson

Written for Kidspot

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