Last year, MobiHealthNews pointed out that although digital health fertility services have been around since at least 2009, digital health fertility tools were showing signs of early market traction by focusing on conception. The companies we discussed at the time were Kindara, Ovuline, and DuoFertility, which all aimed to help women with conception.
Since then, other companies that focused on similar things have raised funds and found ways to monetize their apps. One of the most high-profile fertility app launches was former PayPal CTO Max Levchin's new company Glow. Another app, Clue, says they are more focused on quantified-self and tracking fertility through all stages of life. The fertility apps have also found their way into new markets. Some have been toying with the idea of adding a hardware component and others have skirted around the question of whether the apps can also be a viable form of contraception.
By last year's count, there were close to 1,000 fertility apps in MobiHealthNews' health and medical apps report and the number has likely grown, although research suggests there's still a ways to go for app adoption. The list below includes some of the bigger (and newer) players in the digital health fertility space.
Glow launched in August 2013 with a free app and a fertility program for mothers who are having trouble conceiving. The app tracks a woman's periods, accompanying symptoms, and any other information she wants to add to the in-app journal. The fertility program, called Glow First, is a way for women to dedicate 10 months to trying to conceive with the Glow app and at the end have another available option. Women pay $50 a month for the course of the program, but can stop paying at any point when they conceive. At the end of the 10 months, the money is divvied up among the women who couldn't conceive to help them pay for fertility treatments.
The latest milestone for Glow was just a few weeks ago, when the company announced they were launching a program for employers called Glow for Enterprise, which provides a company's employees with financial assistance for fertility treatments. Through the program, women at participating companies will not have to pay into the Glow First fund, which will be paid for by the company instead. So far Eventbrite and Evernote have signed up with Glow for Enterprise.
While the first Glow First program hasn't run it's course yet (it began in October) Glow announced so far 1,000 women have conceived with the app. The company also announced it launched additional in-app features for women who are not trying to conceive, but want to track their periods. These features are currently only on iOS platforms, but will expand to Android soon.
Another fertility tracking app, Clue, is also looking to eventually offer resources to women who are not trying to get pregnant.
The Berlin, Germany-based company raised $680,000 (500,000 euros) last week to grow Clue’s development team and bring the app into new markets. Clue, like Glow and Ovuline, uses an algorithm to calculate and predict a woman’s next period. Users can add other information to the app as well, including updates on mood, sexual activity, level of flow and other personal notes. While the app can be used to conceive, the developers specify it should not be used to avoid pregnancy, although CEO Ida Tin said she plans to add a family planning eventually.
Part of the reason Tin said the company didn't launch with a family planning feature was because was was planning to eventually launch a hardware component. Family planning isn't in the current iteration of Clue because to properly use a family planning as contraception a woman needs to do more than track her periods; for example she should take her temperature and track her mucous very carefully.
"We are aspiring to become the next generation for family planning and we are focusing our efforts on doing this very high tech piece of hardware to really bring this whole field to the next level," Tin said in a recent interview.
In contrast to the fertility apps that haven't addressed the question of whether women can use fertility tracking as contraception, Kindara CEO Will Sacks told MobiHealthNews in a recent email that 25 percent of Kindara users are using the app to avoid pregnancy. He added that the app provides many resources to make it easier for women to learn how to use fertility tracking as contraception and the method Kindara uses has been proven to be as effective as the pill.
Kindara doesn't currently offer hardware, but Sacks said the company hasn't ruled that out as a future product.
"Hardware is something we've been interested in since day one," Sacks said. "It's not in our immediate plans, but we're keeping our antennae up for potential hardware partners and also considering making some devices ourselves. We think the future of women's healthcare includes smart consumer devices and we are exploring ways to integrate these devices into Kindara."
The company has also recently gotten rid of their freemium feature, a $20-50 per month upgrade so that women could connect to a trained fertility counselor. In the next couple moths, Sacks expects to add other products to the app based on what they learned from this first experience offering in-app paid upgrades.
Boston-based fertility app maker Ovuline, which launched its second app meant for tracking stages of pregnancy last year, released self-reported 2013 growth data. According to Ovuline's numbers, the company has seen 50,000 reported pregnancies among users of its app, Ovia Fertility. The company also reported a 784 percent increase in users, although it's unclear how many users Ovuline started the year with, 4,166 percent increase in user-submitted data points to 50 million total (it was 20 million in October 2013) and three fold increase in the company's majority female team, from five to 15.
Ovuline plans to provide Android support and "major health brand partnerships" in 2014, according to a company statement. The company has raised close to $2.75 million to date.
DuoFertility, which commercially launched its FDA-cleared basal body temperature thermometer sensor in April 2012, has been working on fertility hardware since as early as 2011. Notably, the FDA clearance for this company specified that the device is not intended for use as a contraception device.
It's probable that DuoFertility will soon become a more prominent product in the states. At the end of 2013, DuoFertility hired entrepreneur Claire Hooper to help scale the company in the United States, according to Business Weekly. Hooper's experience successfully bring companies in the United States is one of the primary reasons she was hired.