Wearable technology can detect biomarkers linked to fertility windows

A study published in JMIR found that a fertility wearable was able to use skin temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate to help determine a woman's fertility window.
By Laura Lovett
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A recent study published in JMIR found that the Ava fertility wearable was able to use biomarkers, including skin temperature and heart rate, to help predict women’s fertility windows. 

“By monitoring numerous physiological parameters simultaneously, wearable technology uniquely improves upon retrospective methods for fertility awareness and enables the first real-time predictive model of ovulation,” the authors of the study wrote. 

TOPLINE DATA

Researchers found that the wearable could detect “significant, concurrent phase-based shifts in wrist skin temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate” linked to a woman’s ovulation.  

In the study, the Ava wearable was able to use a machine learning algorithm to detect a woman’s fertility window with 90% accuracy. 

HOW IT WAS DONE

Authors of the study recruited 237 Swiss women to participate in the study, but only used data from 193 women in the final analysis. Participants were all between the ages of 18 and 40 year, had regular menstrual cycles were trying to conceive. 

During the study participants wore a wearable developed by Ava while they were sleeping. Participants were instructed to sync their wearable to their smartphone app, where they recorded their daily activity. Women also took urinary luteinizing hormone tests during their cycle to determine their fertility window. Participants did this for up to a year, or until they became pregnant.

Of note, a number of the study's researchers are current or former employees of Ava. 

WHAT'S THE BACKGROUND 

The digital health industry has become increasingly focused on women’s health. In fact, many are looking to the the so-called “femtech” industry as a potential money maker. A Frost & Sullivan report said the industry could have a market potential of $50 billion by 2025. 

Ava is one of the big names in the fertility space. Last year the startup raked in $30 million in a Series B funding round. At the time the company said it would be putting these new funds towards research and development of its product. 

Ava takes the wearable method, but other companies are employing different approaches. Mira for example, has an at-home fertility hormone tester and an app. 

Consumer wearable companies have becoming increasingly interested in women’s health as well. Garmin and Fitbit have each added menstrual tracking features to their devices; however, they do not yet focus on connecting biomarkers of fertility. 

IN CONCLUSION

“Future studies to expand on this knowledge are already under way; the University Hospital of Zurich is conducting a new large cohort study with several sub-studies that will address topics such as irregular cycles and pregnancy complications,”  Ava Chief Medical Officer Dr. Maureen Cronin said in a statement. “We are also working with several thought leaders to conduct studies in assisted reproduction and gestational hypertensive populations.”