When I was trying to conceive my first child, I was desperate to get pregnant fast. While I’m no expert, I thought I knew enough about my cycle and fertility in general. However, once I started digging in to the subject, in preparation for pregnancy, I realized how little I actually knew.
As it turns out, there are several things a woman should monitor if trying to conceive quickly. I mean, really, who knew you could predict the best time to be “baby making” for optimal results. Who knew that your cervical fluid changes in relation to your cycle. Who the heck knew there were two different phases?! I didn’t. And I had to learn it all if I wanted to get preggers quick. So, I did. I woke up each morning and laid very still, trying to take my temperature before I moved too much and ruined the accuracy. I checked my cervical fluid each day. I charted and graphed and logged all my moods and symptoms throughout the month, using 2-3 different apps to help me keep track of it all. I spent hours scouring forums and blogs for information.
Lucky for me, we got pregnant on the first real month that we tried. I owe all my thanks to those apps and articles I read because otherwise we would have had to rely on the old fashioned way of just…you know…trying a lot….Actually, why did I do all that research?
So, when Bean turned four months old I found Ava. It was like someone actually listened to all those women who agonized over their charts month in and month out, wondering when they would be fertile or when their period would start. Go figure. So I bought one up and tried it out. Here’s what I found:
The Ava fertility bracelet is minimal in design. It’s made of a strip of silicone, with a plastic center piece, and looks pretty much like your standard electronic wrist gear. It has a regular wrist watch style clasp for those who tend to be rather active at night, and is immune to sweat or splashes of water (just don’t submerge it or shower with it). The center unit also disconnects from the band and can be worn under a sweat band, if one so chooses.
Ava keeps track of nine different parameters. It automatically charts data such as skin temperature, resting pulse rate, breathing rate, heart rate variability, and sleep. While it also collects information on perfusion, movement, bioimpedance, and heat loss, it does not provide you with a visual of this information. Below is a brief explanation of the parameters:
Ava takes your temperature periodically through the night and records the lowest value as your basal body temperature for that night. The idea here is that once a women ovulates, the temperatures in the second half of her cycle remain elevated slightly until the beginning of the new cycle. Or, if pregnant, the temperature will stay elevated.
Resting Pulse Rate
During the first half of your cycle, your resting pulse rate is usually lower than the second half. Additionally, when Ava dug into the research, they found that your pulse rate raises by about 2.1 beats per minutes during your fertile window.
Ava records this as another data point to help predict cycles as your breathing rate is typically lower during the first half of your cycle.
Heart Rate Variability
This is ratio of the time in between heart beats. The idea here is that the higher the variation, the higher the physiological stress. This translates into cycle variance as more stress on your body could mean changes in your ovulation and overall cycle.
The device also monitors the quality of your sleep, tracking REM sleep/deep sleep and light sleep as quality of sleep can impact cycle. Additionally, disruptions or changes in the data can be another indicator of pregnancy.
This is the measure of the blood in your capillaries. Perfusion is higher during your fertile window and lower in the second half of your cycle.
This is the main function allowing Ava to determine your sleep cycles and when you are awake.
This tracks changes in your skin such as hydration and sweating patterns which change during phases in your cycle and during pregnancy.
Your heat loss through the skin is directly tied to your metabolic rate. While the science is still unclear as to the reasons we lose heat in the second half of the cycle, this is one function that may be at play. So, Ava records it.
Who Should Use It and Why?
This bracelet is ideal for all women looking to track their cycle and is especially helpful for those looking to conceive. It’s meant to be worn a minimum of four hours per night, while you sleep, and it records all those above mentioned data points to help predict your cycle and fertility window. When you wake in the morning, you connect it to your smart phone via bluetooth and it automatically records the data directly into their app.
While anyone can wear the bracelet, it hasn’t really been tested on women who are breastfeeding or directly after birth. It is also not great for those who are diagnosed with PCOS or have irregular cycles that do not average between 24-25 days. They also clarify on their webpage that it is not meant to be used as a method of contraception, but I guess that’s my business and risk to take. I want more kids anyway.
As for why anyone would want it, I mean it sort of speaks for itself. Who wouldn’t want a device that could keep track of all your details while you sleep, tell you when to do the baby making (or not), and when to expect aunt flow? It takes all the guesswork out of when to do the deed and when to wear your comfy pants with old granny undies.
Pros and Cons
Now let’s talk about the meat and potatoes. The real reason you’re here. Does it work?
Actually, yes it does. I have to give credit where it’s due. It’s been fairly accurate since I started wearing it and I’m pleasantly surprised. Prior to this, I kept track of my information in period tracking apps and whatnot, which was somewhat accurate, but never perfect, and a big, fat, hassle. This bracelet, however, hopped right on track by cycle number three, making it so much easier to keep track of everything.
Another positive is that the app is designed with the user in mind. As soon as you open it up, it has a homepage screen with today’s information all displayed. There are also indicator arrows pointing either up or down, to help you see the difference from yesterday’s data to today’s, at a glance.
A quick slide over and you will see your five charts, nicely shown all on one screen, along with any daily log information you choose to add on.
One more slide over and you can get the month view where you will see your fertile window in green and your predicted period in pink. All in all, it’s a very nice design.
If you happen to be of the forgetful sort, no worries. Ava’s got you covered. It actually stores up to five nights worth of data in the that little sucker. This is great if you happen to be somewhere without your phone (does that actually happen to people anymore?).
Now, nothing is perfect. So there are some downsides to this contraption. It may be somewhat inaccurate, especially at first. My first two cycles were several days off. However, to be fair, had I entered prior period data into the chart before wearing it, it would’ve probably been more accurate. Plus, I also did not know what my period would be like after it finally returned. I mean, nine months pregnancy and another nine months breastfeeding had to change something, right? So, I think that it did a damned good job for only having two month of post hormonal Poe data to go off of. It’s also getting better each month, so I am expecting it to be dead on in the next month or so.
I will also say there have been some issues with connectivity at times. For example, the only way to get the data to link and update to your app is to plug in the bracelet and then open the app. If the app is already open, it won’t connect. If you don’t plug in the bracelet, it won’t connect. There’s no manual way to re-connect the bracelet except to unplug it and plug it back in. Also, I have had issues with the info transfer stopping itself midway and not fully updating, making me have to redo the whole connection. This can get annoying if you’re not paying attention in the morning when you’re uploading it to your phone.
Update: Ava has updated their firmware to include a ‘sync now’ button, eliminating the annoyances of having to plug and unplug for data transfer. Woo!
I also wish Ava would have included data markers for all nine parameters as opposed to just five. I’m sort of a geek when it comes to data and charts and I feel like there’s no point in keeping data on all nine variables if you’re only going to give me access to five of them. Downer.
Additionally, if you don’t like having stuff on your hands and arms, this isn’t going to be the product for you. While silicone is nice and soft, it took some time adjusting to wearing it at night. I usually hate having any sort of jewelry on me while I sleep. However, the benefits outweighed the costs and I sucked it up until I got used to it. It’s better than having to take a temperature manually and gives me way more information.
Lastly, (and this one is probably the only huge complaint I have) the Ava ain’t cheap. I paid 249 and change for the bracelet and although I love it, it’s definitely something to save up for. However, I felt like it was worth the price for the ease with which I could plan my next pregnancy and for never having to worry about tracking my cycle again. Still, if it’s a bit too costly for your wallet all in one go, they do offer a finance option.
Would I Recommend It?
This is going to have to be a big yes for me. The benefits of being able to track all of my data points, leaving me with a pretty good estimation of my fertile window and period start date are way above any potential annoyances or downsides. It’s easy to use, easy to read, and takes all the work out of tracking day to day. I know it will be a breeze for when I am ready to try for my second child and also gives me a valuable wealth of information until then. As my primary method of birth control is utilizing a variety of fertility awareness methods in addition to male contraceptives, this is a huge help and makes my life a thousand times more convenient. Now, if only they would invent something that would prevent me from wanting all the chocolate…
Ready to try it out? Order Ava Here.