Getting pregnant is much harder than movies would have you believe.
In fact, women have only a 25 percent chance of getting pregnant every month. So, it’s no surprise that couples are keen to improve their odds. IoT makes it a little easier.
Why it’s hard to get pregnant?
There is just a 12- to 24-hour window each month when a human egg can be fertilized by a sperm. This fertile window occurs during the six days after ovulation while the egg passes down the fallopian tube. Pinpointing the exact time period, though, is hard because it varies from woman to woman. Sex has to take place within this fertile window to maximize the chances of becoming pregnant.
Predicting the fertile window
Three approaches are commonly used to help women get pregnant.
1. Calendar method
The 28- to 32-day menstruation cycle is mapped on a calendar, with the fertile window occurring between days 7 and 20. This simple method is often undependable and doesn’t work well for many couples.
2. Ovulation test kits
These tests rely on the changes in a woman’s Luteinizing Hormone (LH) level to calculate her fertile window. This hormone increases 24 to 48 hours prior to ovulation, indicating the best time to become pregnant. First Response and ClearBlue make two popular ovulation kits.
3. Core body temperature
Mary Coyne’s research in 2000 showed that a woman's fertile period can also be identified by measuring her body's core temperature. Her research involved having women swallow temperature sensors to measured their temperature. The data collected showed that women have a significant decrease in their core body temperature one to two days before their urinary LH-surge. This information indicates the best time to become pregnant.
Swallowing temperature sensors works for a research project, but isn't a very practical solution. Advances in IoT technology have now made fertility tracking commercially feasible.
The Ava is an IoT fertility-tracking bracelet that's worn at night and informs women about their fertility status through a mobile app. Its automated approach avoids the need to take temperature at the same time every morning, go through multiple urine tests each month or enter data into an app every day. Ava is an FDA-approved Class 1 medical device that has been shown to detect an average of 5.3 fertile days per cycle with 89 percent accuracy.
The Ava bracelet collects more than 3 million data points and measures nine physiological parameters. This information is analyzed, and the Ava mobile app alerts the wearer of her fertility status.
The Ava bracelet sensor measures nine fertility-related factors:
- Resting pulse rate—How often a heart beats per minute (bpm). Typical resting pulse rates for adults are between 40 and 80 bpm
- Skin temperature—Average skin temperature readings are between 90.68 and 98.24 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heart rate variability—The changes in heart rate from beat to beat. This fluctuates with hormone levels, which also impact physiological stress levels.
- Amount of sleep—The quality and amount of sleep is an indicator of fertility. Average percentages are 55 percent of light sleep and 45 percent deep sleep.
- Breathing rate—The rate of respiration per minute.
- Movement—Measuring the amount of movement while sleeping indicates the percentage of light and deep sleep.
- Perfusion—The process of supplying blood to the tissues in the body. This is impacted by hormone levels.
- Bioimpedance—This is the resistance of the skin to small electrical signals. This changes with phases of the menstrual cycle.
- Heat loss—Core body temperature falls with sleep as metabolism slows down. The amount of heat being lost while asleep helps predict the fertility phase.
This collected sensor data is analyzed with sophisticated algorithms developed by Ava data scientists using research conducted by Prof. Dr. med. Brigitte Leeners at the University of Zurich.
FDA classification of medical devices
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures the safety and effectiveness of devices such as the Ava bracelet. Medical devices are classified by the FDA according to their associated risk:
- Class I (low risk)—subject to the least regulatory controls, e.g. dental floss
- Class II (higher risk)—require greater regulatory controls to provide reasonable assurance of the device’s safety and effectiveness, e.g. condoms
- Class III (highest risk)—subject to the highest level of regulatory control that must typically be approved by FDA before they are marketed, e.g. replacement heart valves
BabyCenter is a wonderful resource on both pregnancy and parenting. It also supports Mission Motherhood, a global charitable project to promote maternal healthcare. HopePhones is one of their programs, which is run in conjunction with MedicMobile, a program that recycles phones to fund healthcare programs in developing countries. Health workers use the phones to register pregnancies and call for transport to ensure women get to a health facility in time. You can help their efforts by donating your old phones.
The joys of parenthood easily exceed the challenges of having a baby. IoT solutions such as the Ava bracelet enable more people to share this joy.
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