Reproductive & Maternal Health Resource Center

Reproductive & Maternal Health Resource Center

Disclosures: Willis reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
December 10, 2020
2 min read

Menstrual cycle tracking app may increase odds for conception

Disclosures: Willis reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Women who use an app to track their menstrual cycle may increase their likelihood of becoming pregnant, according to study data published in Human Reproduction.

“Our results indicate that use of mobile cycle tracking apps may help women trying to conceive, potentially increasing fecundability by 12% to 20%,” Sydney K. Willis, a PhD student in the department of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues wrote. “Based on observational data, we found that the use of fertility indicators (basal body temperature, cervical fluid, cervix position or urine luteinizing hormone ‘ovulation predictor’ testing) together with use of an app appears to be more effective than using apps that only track the start date of each menstrual cycle.”

Use of a menstrual cycle tracking app increased the likelihood for conception, with fecundability higher in women who used an app with fertility indicators and women with a history of subfertility.

The findings came from data gathered in Boston University’s Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO), a web-based preconception study of women aged 21 to 45 years from the United States and Canada who were trying to conceive. At baseline, the women had attempted pregnancy for no longer the 6 months and were not using contraception or fertility treatments. Participants completed questionnaires on their medical history, and fertility treatments and pregnancy attempts every 8 weeks for a period of up to 12 months.

For this study, researchers compiled data from the questionnaires in which women (n = 8,363; mean age, 29.9 years; 84.2% white) were asked if they used a web-based or phone app to record menstrual cycle data and/or fertility signs. For women who responded yes, there was a follow-up question for the name of the app they used. The apps Clue, Fertility Friend, Glow, Kindara and Ovia were considered most accurate by researchers and were put into a “selected apps” group. All other apps listed by participants were placed into an “other apps” cohort.

Researchers analyzed data collected at baseline that included conception history, intercourse frequency, use of fertility indictors, menstrual regularity and history of subfertility. Fecundability was measured by estimating time to pregnancy based on questionnaire responses.

At baseline, 72.7% of women said they used a menstrual cycle app, with 40% using one of the five selected apps and 33% using a different app. Women who did vs. did not use an app had a higher fecundability, with little difference between those who used a selected app (fecundability ratio [FR] = 1.2; 95% CI, 1.13-1.28) and an app in the other group (FR = 1.21; 95% CI, 1.13-1.3).

Women who did vs. did not use fertility indicators in conjunction with an app had higher fecundability in both the selected app group (FR = 1.23; 95% CI, 1.14-1.34) and the other app group (FR = 1.3; 95% CI, 1.19-1.43). Women who reported a history of subfertility had higher fecundability when using a selected app (FR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.11-1.77) than participants without a history of subfertility (FR = 1.15; 95% CI, 1.07-1.24). However, with the other apps group, researchers found little difference between participants with and without a history of subfertility.

Researchers also examined fecundability with eight apps (Clue, Fertility Friend, Flo, Flow, Kindara, My Days, Ovia and Period Tracker) that had 100 or more users, but found no consistent results that would distinguish one app from any of the others.

“We found consistently positive associations between mobile cycle app use and fecundability,” researchers wrote. “There were stronger associations when the apps were used simultaneously with one or more fertility indicators. While fertility indicators were used more often among women with selected apps, fecundability was similar for the selected apps and other apps, and among all the specific apps with at least 100 users.”