Trying to conceive can be a difficult and long-winded process for a lot of women. Sometimes it just takes longer than you might expect, and it is suggested that one reason for this may be that your ovulation window has not been accurately calculated. This means you are missing out on valuable baby-making time on your most fertile days each month. To check when you are ovulating based on the date of your last period, or to read more about what ovualtion actually means, try our handy ovulation calculator.
Yet, if you've been trying for a baby for a while and still haven't got a positive pregnancy test, it might be worth starting to track the days you are ovulating more closely before visiting your GP. We take a look at Natural Cycles - an app that monitors fertility for the purpose of both contraception and planned pregnnacy.
How does the Natural Cycles app work?
In simple terms Natural Cycles uses your temperatue to monitor your fertility. In order for the algorithm to work, the system relies on you taking your temperature every morning and keying it into the app. It will, in turn, inform you where you are in your 'natural cycle'. A ‘red day’ signifies that your body is ovulating, or in other words, you are in your 'baby making window'. On the other hand, a ‘green day’ means the fertile window has passed and you will not get pregnant. Your fertile window is usually around six days long, so the app will inform you exactly which days these are every month, to ensure maximum chances of falling pregnant.
Despite the fancy looking app, this simple method of temperature monitoring has actually been around for a long time and is one of the most tried and tested methods involved in trying to get pregnant.
Who created Natural Cycles?
Sweden-born 32 year old, Elina Berglund and her husband Raoul created Natural Cycles as a natural form of contraception for women. After having used the app as a form of contraception for some time, the couple decided to use it to track ovulation with the purpose of starting a family, introducing the 'Plan a Pregnancy' mode.
How do you use the Plan a Pregnancy mode?
If you're trying to conceive, there are several features to use in this mode which will help you time sex with your partner with precision. Everyday you will be shown your 'fertility status', ranging from ‘peak’ to ‘low’. You can use the calendar view to see your predicted fertile days in the month and when you will be ovulating. If you're really into the science behind it, there is also a graph, which provides you with a visualisation of your temperature curve throughout your cycle. The statistics page allows you to see details such as your cycle length, in order for you to work out exactly when you are ovualting each month. The app will let you know when it thinks you need to take a pregnancy test, and if it comes out positive, you can use the app to track your pregnancy.
What thermometer can you use?
To use the app, you will need a two decimal basal thermometer. A two decimal basal thermometer is more sensitive than a regular fever thermometer, showing your temperature to two decimal points. Of course, it can only properly work if you remember to take your temperature every day, so if you are going to use this to try and help you conceive, try and keep it somewhere you'll remember, like in your make up bag.
What can affect your temperature?
Your temperature can deviate if you feel sick, hungover or have slept more or less (±2 hours) than usual. Natural Cycles will often detect a deviating temperature automatically, but just to be safe, it’s better to let the app know by tapping ‘deviating temp’. The app will still work effectively, taking temperature fluctuations into account.
Is the app safe?
Yes, An EU Notified Body has certified Natural Cycles as a class IIb medical device intended for use as contraception. This means the app is in the same category as the condom when it comes to contraception.
Do you have to pay for Natural Cycles?
You can sign up for one month free of charge as a trial, which is a good way to see if you like the way the app is designed. After the first month, it’s £5.99 per month, or you can buy an annual subscription for £39.99.
Read next: 19 facts about ovualtion
1) The average cycle
The average cycle for a woman is 28 days, but your cycle can be anything from 22 to 36 days long. Ovulation normally happens about two weeks before your next period, so if your cycle is 28 days, you will ovulate around day 14. Work out when you are ovulating by using our ovulation calculator.