Most women rely on a thermometer to
measure their fertility throughout the
month. Their internal body temperature
fluctuates with their ovulation cycle, so it
drops when an egg is released and
returns to normal levels after the cycle
ends. The thermometer has proved a
reliable method since at least the 1960s
and ’70s, albeit one that’s time-
consuming and kind of annoying. Now, a
new wearable called Ava wants to replace
the decades-old technique. It claims to be
the world’s first fertility wearable that
helps women plan for conception,
although it’s not for women who have
infertility. It makes tracking a
temperature reading easier, but more
than anything else, it helps women plan
ahead by prompting them to have sex
while they’re ovulating.
The Ava claims to track more than just
temperature. It measures resting heart
rate, skin temperature, heart rate
variability, sleep, breathing rate,
movement, perfusion, bioimpedance (the
resistance of body tissue to tiny electric
voltages), and heat loss. Owen Davis, a
doctor and professor of obstetrics and
gynecology and reproductive medicine at
Weill Cornell Medical College, told The
Verge that beyond temperature readings,
the other measures aren’t universally
agreed upon as accurate indicators of
ovulation. But with that being said, he
also noted that it’s possible Ava’s
algorithm can accurately determine when
a woman can conceive.
To prove its accuracy, the wearable
underwent a clinical trial during which it
accurately identified five fertile days 89
percent of the time in 41 women. The
study hasn’t been peer-reviewed or
published yet, although Ava’s makers
hope to have the results out by the end of
the year.
Because Davis wasn’t able to read the
study, he couldn’t make any conclusive
statements about the device’s
effectiveness. He did see its merits,
though. If women can get an advanced
heads up on when they’re going to
ovulate, they’re more likely to be able to
conceive. It might not be as accurate as
LH-detecting test strips, which look for a
hormone that’s only released in high
quantities during ovulation, but Ava isn’t
trying to replace hormone tests.
The only other thing to note is that the
company behind Ava hails its FDA-
approval, which while it’s not a bad thing
to have, doesn’t lend much credibility. It
only received Class One approval, which
is the same qualification that dental floss
holds. The FDA presumes wearables can’t
cause much harm if they aren’t working
properly, so it doesn’t as rigorously
scrutinize them like it does with
pharmaceuticals. Really, until we see the
full study we can’t properly analyze the
device, but for now, its claims don’t seem
to be so preposterous.