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

Fertility Treatments and the IVF process

If you have been trying to conceive and are struggling with infertility, your GP is likely to refer you to a Fertility Specialist for Fertility Treatment.  For most people it’s scary, it’s overwhelming, and definitely not what you had planned for your baby making journey. But what is Fertility Treatment? And what is IVF?  Be reassured, just because you are going to see a Fertility Specialist, it doesn’t mean you need to have IVF.

There are three options when it comes to having Fertility Treatment, and these depend on your reasons for not being able to conceive so far. Age, how long you have been trying, female factors and male factors, all play a part in what treatment is recommended for you.

The simplest option, and still widely used treatment, is Ovulation Induction. Here, a tablet (Clomiphine Citrate or Letrozole) is taken in the early days of your cycle, which increases follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) to grow follicles (containing eggs) in the ovary and assists the usual progression of the menstrual cycle.  You still have sex to become pregnant, but you are told when to time it based your response to the tablets. This treatment is useful for women who don’t ovulate or have irregular cycles.

Moving on from Ovulation Induction is Intra-uterine Insemination (IUI), or Artificial Insemination. This involves using sperm that has been prepared in the lab being injected into the uterus with a fine tube that passes through the cervix. It is usually performed by a Fertility Nurse, and the procedure is very similar to having a smear test. The mechanics of it is basically like perfectly timed sex, but the best sperm is selected, and is put exactly where it needs to be, ready to meet the egg as it travels down the fallopian tube after ovulation. Usually tablets or injections are used to stimulate extra follicle growth, but it can be done naturally, just relying on the women’s natural cycle.  IUI is useful for treating cervical mucous issues, mild male-factor infertility, same sex couples and mild ovulation issues.

The next step in treatment options brings us to In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), which can be used to treat infertility in many situations, such as blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, low sperm count, ovulation disorders, PCOS, and unexplained infertility.  This has the best overall results, but there is a lot more involved.  IVF can be explained as ‘fertilisation outside of the body’.  The essence of IVF is retrieving eggs and a sperm sample and combining them in a petri-dish to fertilise. The best developing embryo is selected after 3-5 days and put back inside the woman’s uterus in a procedure call embryo transfer, or embryo replacement.

In order to obtain eggs from the woman, injections of Follicle Stimulating Hormone are given daily to recruit growth of multiple follicles, instead of just the one that would normally be produced in a menstrual cycle. The eggs are then retrieved in a quick theatre procedure and are sent through to the scientists in the lab, where the sperm sample (partners or donor) is combined with the eggs to let nature take its course.  If the sperm need help to fertilise the eggs, the best sperm can be injected into the eggs in a procedure called ICSI (Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection).

The ideal conditions are created for the embryo during treatment to give the best chance of a successful pregnancy. However, it is impossible to make someone pregnant – (the fertility world would be very different if this was the case!), so unfortunately not all IVF cycles will result in pregnancy. Any suitable embryos that were left over are frozen, ready to use for another try.

All these treatments are helpful in achieving pregnancy, but they do have their risks and significant costs involved.  There are steps you can take to increase your chances of conceiving, before reaching the point of needing Fertility Treatment. Understanding your cycle and your fertility is a crucial, but often discounted step in the process. For many people, having fertility treatment in some form is the only way they will achieve pregnancy, but a little bit of the right information at the beginning of the journey can go a long way! 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