Technology, such as wearables and apps, have been notoriously lacking in the women’s health department (remember when Apple Health launched without a period tracker?). But better late than never, and in 2017, women’s sexual, reproductive, and overall health is at the forefront of new app technology. Here are five of our favorite apps that are changing the game when it comes to women’s health.
Clue is first and foremost a period tracker that helps women monitor and predict their monthly cycles as well as the emotional and physical symptoms associated with menstruation and ovulation. When a woman enters data about her flow, as well as pain, mood, vaginal fluids, and more, the app uses that information to learn about her cycle and help her become more informed. It also allows users to “connect” and share cycle info, in case you’ve always been wondering which if your friends’ cycles are synced up with yours. (Period parties, anyone? We’ll bring the chips!)
Your period is an important indicator of your reproductive and overall health—sometimes called the “5th vital sign”—so it’s no wonder this app is regarded so highly by doctors. In fact, it was rated the top menstrual tracking app by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the leading organization of women’s healthcare physicians.
While it collects much of the same data as Clue, Glow was created for women who are trying to get pregnant. The app suggests 40 different data points—from basal body temperature to period length and flow to weight to sleep—to help pinpoint when you’re most fertile: ovulation, the flip side of your menstrual cycle. It allows women using the app to connect with their partners so the two can share the experience, and collects information about a male partner’s fertility and health factors, too.
A few really cool things about Glow: after launching, it added support and tracking features for women and couples going through fertility treatments, like intrauterine inseminations or in vitro fertilization. Plus, it has a really robust community of women who talk about everything from fertility to sex to health to relationships using the app’s forum. In its first year, Glow helped over 20,000 women get pregnant.
Admittedly, Biem is not strictly a women’s health app. But since untreated sexual transmitted infections and diseases can greatly affect a woman’s overall and reproductive health—including her fertility—staying smart about your sexual health is really important for all sexually active women.
Biem bills itself as a “virtual sexual health clinic” that makes it easier to get tested and treated for STI/Ds and to share your sexual health status with partners. Here’s how: after video-chatting with a healthcare provider to discuss your options, you can choose to get tested at a clinic or in your own home, and the results will be sent directly to your phone. Their doctors can also prescribe medications and explain results, if needed. Then, importantly, users can connect with partners to share their verified test results and agree to be notified if either of them test positive for an STI/D in the near future—taking the awkwardness out of the conversation around sexual health. According to Biem, 50% of people with an STI/D don’t know it, and they want to change that.
For many women, especially college students going to school away from home, women in rural areas, or others without a healthcare provider nearby, visiting a doctor in order to get or renew a birth control prescription can be difficult—and for others, the cost of that appointment can be an obstacle to getting contraception, even if the birth control itself is covered by insurance. Nurx hopes to increase access to birth control by offering a digital option.
Using the app, women fill out a questionnaire about their health and lifestyle, much like the questions a doctor would ask at a check-up appointment. Then, a doctor reviews the answers and, when appropriate, prescribes a birth control pill that’s right for a woman’s health, needs, and budget. Then the pills are mailed directly to her home, and refills are automatic. Of course, regular doctor’s visits are recommended for all women—but this is a great way to break down the barriers to birth control access and give women better control over their healthcare.
This app has a few great features. First of all, it’s a good resource for information on the egg freezing process, generally speaking—from what it entails, to possible side effects, to what happens after your eggs are frozen.
But more importantly, it features a few tools to help women decide if egg freezing is right for them. The first is an egg freezing “calculator” that uses a woman’s age and other health indicators to estimate how many eggs she might be able to freeze per cycle. That info can help calculate how many cycles she might need to do, and how much the whole egg freezing procedure will cost. The second is a decision aid tool. This uses a series of questions to help women think more deeply about how they feel about motherhood (biological and otherwise), egg freezing, and their own life circumstances.
While this app is a great resource, the best option for women considering egg freezing is to come in for a fertility assessment and consultation here at Extend Fertility. These appointments will give you a personalized look at your fertility health and help you understand the egg freezing process in full. And best of all, the first two appointments are free, regardless of whether or not you end up freezing your eggs.