Remember when trying for a baby just came down to hitting the sheets and hoping for the best? These days, though, a woman hoping to become pregnant can look to her phone for help.
How? Simple: cycle-tracking apps that can help you and your partner perfectly time that all-important roll in the hay to the days you're most likely to conceive. While the cycle-tracking apps of old relied on averages to calculate your fertile days, the new-and-improved versions go a few steps further, offering special algorithms and even temperature tracking to predict ovulation, aka the time of the month when a mature egg is released from an ovary and makes it's way down one of your fallopian tubes, ready to be fertilized.
Ovulation happens about two weeks before your period shows up, on average. But not only is every woman's cycle different from other women's, it's also not abnormal for your own cycle to vary month-to-month.
These four stellar apps give you information you need to boost your odds for getting pregnant. Check 'em out.
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Think of Clue as your personal fertility secretary. When you first download it, you enter the last day of your period, the average length of your cycle, and how long your period normally lasts. Then, Clue uses a special algorithm that takes into account both global statistics and the information you entered to determine your fertility window and the best days to conceive. The longer you use the app, and the more information you enter, the better the recommendations get. Essentially, the app gets to know you, and that allows it to better "forecast" your fertility. Users can also tell the app when they've had sex, as well as track other symptoms like cramps, headaches and mood. Clue will even remind you when you're due for annoying PMS symptoms. Even if you're not trying to get pregnant, we'd recommend this one. (Free, iTunes or Google Plus)
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DaysyView and Daysy
The best time to have sex to get pregnant is actually two to three days before ovulation, when your basal body temperature (or your temperature right when you wake up) normally rises. If you're willing to fork over $375 for the device, Daysy can measure your temperature and tell you whether you're likely to concieve or not that day, no tracking required. If the device gives you get a red icon after you take your temperature, it's prime babymaking time. Green means you're likely to avoid pregnancy.
You can also connect the device to the daysyView app on your smarphone, and all your data will automatically download, allowing you to see a calendar-view and get predictions for ovulation and arrival of your period, based on a special algorithm. You can also use the app using a regular thermometer. ($375 for the device, daysy.com; Free daisyView app, iTunes)
OvuView relies on a bunch of different fertility metrics, including timing of your period and body temperature (meaning you use a thermometer to take your temp and then enter it), plus cervical mucus levels, which are important for gauging fertility because women tend to produce more of it before and during ovulation. If you're up for it, this entails checking your underwear or even yes, using your hands to collect the mucus from your vagina and note its color, consistency, and feel. When it appears clear, slippery, and stretchy, that means you're ovulating. The app will then lay out all the data in a chart, so you can see your symptoms over time, including when you're likely to ovulate. It'll also give you statistics on your cycle and reminders for temperature readings. (Free, Google Play)
Finally, if the other options seem like they're too much work: you could stick with the old-school fertility tracker CycleBeads, an app that uses the Standard Days Method of natural family planning, which was developed by the Institute for Reproductive Health in Washington, D.C. This method is based on the mountain of research that shows that a woman is most likely to get pregnant on days 8 through 19 of her cycle. While it's only around 88 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, it can also be a stress-free way to plan conception if you have sex during that window. It's definitely a good choice if you're not ready to obsessively track your temperature or check secretions. You just enter the start date of your most recent period, and the app lays out your fertile days in calendar and a fun "bead" view. (Free, Google Play; $3, iTunes)
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