Digital Fertility Tracking and Couple Communication
Reproductive health and/or family planning education and services is often framed in the context of the woman, which propagates the idea that fertility outcomes are solely a woman’s issue. While it is true that a woman should have full autonomy over her reproductive health, there however needs to be a larger conversation and emphasis around couple-decision making and communication. More recently there have been efforts to include men in reproductive health/family planning. It has been shown that men’s involvement in fertility outcomes has a positive impact on couple communication to which fertility awareness provides an approach.(1)
"[S]haring this experience with my partner help[s] us to build a relationship where we both have the responsibility" - Daysy User
Fertility awareness provides women and couples with actionable information about their fertility based on signs and symptoms during the menstrual cycle and life cycle. Using this information women and couples can make healthy decisions to achieve their reproductive goals. In a survey of over 2,500 participants across the United States and Europe, researchers found that 95% of women and 55% of men said using a natural family planning method has helped them know their bodies better.(2)
"Daysy has enabled me to…...reconnect with my body in a way that supports my physical and mental health as well as having a healthy relationship with my partner." - Daysy User
Traditionally, fertility awareness methods use pen and paper to track changes in the menstrual cycle and often require training by a professional. Without proper instruction, women and couples lack the foundational language and understanding to discuss their fertility outcomes. Digital fertility trackers (DFTs) have removed this barrier and changed this trajectory. DFTs are easy-to-use education tools that help women and couples learn more about fertility changes during the menstrual cycle. Studies have shown women are using digital fertility trackers or have intentions to use them in the future. In a pilot survey of 1,000 women from Facebook, 76.9% reported that they were interested in using DFTs to track their fertility while 23.1% were currently using one.(3) Another mixed methods study found that 38% of respondents reported using a fertility tracking app and of which 72% were using them to observe their cycle.(4)
Digital fertility tools, like Daysy, provide direct-to-user access to information through innovative approaches further fostering and encouraging communication. Women measure their basal body temperature under their tongue with Daysy in the morning, immediately after waking up and before getting up, and confirm menstruation. The device uses a series of LED lights, red (fertile), green (infertile), or yellow (learning phase), to indicate fertility status. Fertility information is easily accessible to the user and her partner on the device or through the DaysyView App. In a matter of minutes, couples can discuss how to proceed regarding intimacy.
In the study mentioned above, an overwhelming majority of both men and women reported that NFP has helped improve their relationship while less than 10% felt that NFP harmed the relationship. In respect to intimacy, participants also reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their frequency of sexual intercourse while using an NFP method.(2) While data is lacking around the impact of digital fertility trackers on couple communication, the emergence of new tools will encourage further research. Couple decision making around fertility is important and requires a skill set that includes effective communication. Digital fertility trackers like Daysy offer a unique opportunity for couples to access fertility information to reach their reproductive goal.
Author: Liya Haile