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When Kathy Beaumont started trying for a baby two years ago, she turned to the many birthrate apps on the market to detect when would be the best time of the month to conceive.
She took her temperature every day and logged it in an app called Fertility Friend, but soon discovered herself succumbing to a fertility-obsessed frenzy.
“I constantly analysed the analytics segment of the app to see how my month seemed and whether there was a temperature spike that indicated I was ovulating, ” mentions Kathy, 32, a freelance travelling copywriter.
“I based where reference is actively tried for a baby alone on when the app and ovulation kits told me I was ovulating.”
But after six months of “trying”, Kathy still hadn’t fallen pregnant.
“Some months I think we must have missed the window of opportunity altogether, ” she explains, “either because I’d built up to it so much that the pressure built me too stressed to conceive, or because the app wasn’t accurate.”
She decided to quit using the apps “for the sake of my sanity” and got pregnant the following month.
“They definitely serve a purpose, ” she concedes, “but they aren’t the be-all and end-all.”
But for some females, they are.
Londoner Sara Flyckt, 35, started using an app called Natural Cycles four years ago after hearing about it in a Swedish podcast.
It investigations the body’s temperature to determine whether or not the user is fertile and needs to use contraception.
“I was on the pill before and the hormones built me into quite a nasty person, so when I heard about this natural option it felt like a no-brainer to try it, ” mentions Swedish-born Ms Flyckt.
And, after initially using it as a contraceptive, last year she used it to scheme teenage pregnancies.
“It certainly helped me find my fertile periods. It’s very easy to use, and it’s especially helpful as both my partner and I operated full day within hospitality and sometimes we wouldn’t assure each other for a few days.
“With this app you know when to try and make time to see each other.”
Swedish start-up Natural Cycles’ app lately won medical acceptance as a contraceptive.
Technology targeted at females – or femtech as it’s been coined – cover-ups everything from family planning and period tracker apps to sex playthings and breast pumps.
And the market has been booming in recent years.
“We’re appreciating genuinely significant growing in funding to femtech start-ups, ” mentions Zoe Leavitt, tech analyst at CB Insights.
“The number of bargains shot up from 20 in 2014, to 40 in 2015, and in 2016 bargains and dollars set a record high, with $540.5 m( 433 m) across 52 bargains.
“Overall, we’ve tracked $1.26 bn in investment since 2009 across 173 deals.”
But there are concerns that some females might become enslaved to such apps.
Lea von Bidder is co-founder of Ava, a firm that has developed a wearable bangle and app for tracking a woman’s fertile window in real time.
“When it comes to fertility tracking, the present options require females to make it almost a part-time job to track their birthrate, ” she says.
“They have to peeing on stays multiple times per day, wake up early to take their temperature at exactly the same day each morning, or examine their cervical mucus every time they go to the bathroom.
“By creating a bracelet that is only worn at night and does away with all this work, we firmly believe we are helping women to be less stressed and neurotic about birthrate tracking.”
Many of the apps in this space aren’t just targeted at those trying for a baby.
Ida Tin, co-founder of Berlin-based start-up Clue, describes the firm’s menstrual cycle tracker as being “empowering for women”.
She adds: “For some, it’s the first time they’ve genuinely been able to get insight into their bodies. People use these apps because they want to understand their body better.
“The app is helpful whether you’re trying for a baby or want to know when your next period is.”
Many females seem to agree – Clue has about five million active customers globally.
But the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence( Nice) advises users to treat birthrate apps with a certain degree of carefulnes.
“There are probably many examples of new tech companies and technologies in the birthrate space that bringing the promise of benefits to patients and users, but they must be properly assessed before they are used in a healthcare fix, ” mentions Alexia Tonnel, director of indication resources at Nice.
“Where possible, customers should look for an independent review of the claimed benefits.”
Some sex health charities, organisations and experts have also expressed concerns over the efficacy of such apps.
But for millions of women worldwide, they have proved essential as a contraceptive, an aid to pregnancy, and as a route of understanding more about their monthly cycles.
Gemma Moore turned to ClearBlue when she was trying for her second infant.
“I used the ClearBlue Fertility Monitor to measure my hormone levels and find out the four periods I was most likely to conceive.
“By knowing what was going on with my hormones and realising I ovulate far later than the average female, I was able to pinpoint when I was most likely to conceive.”
In the second month she got pregnant and committed birth to her son, Oscar, last September.
As for the future, it’s expected that the femtech sector will continue to thrive.
“We are not only appreciating successful innovation in women’s health, but also in areas such as personal hygiene, baby care and breast pumps, ” mentions Lea von Bidder from Ava.
“This is critical as most of those companies are just catching up with the technological and innovative changes we are already allows one to in all other aspects of our lives.”