Glow and Ovia: Babymaking? There’s An App For That!
The fertility rate in the USA is declining and is at an all-time low. Some experts have expressed the concern that the United States’s fertility rate is no longer enough to sustain the population without immigration — a problem that Japan has been having for a few years, along with other countries. While young couples are delaying marriage and babies due to the economy, when they want to conceive, there are a number of hurdles. While prenatal consultations with a fertility specialist are always recommended, couples these days feel they need more help in planning conception. There appears to be help in the form of mobile apps such as Glow, Ovia and others.
Pregnancy Planning, Babymaking and Health Care: By the Numbers
First, here are some figures on fertility, population and related issues:
U.S. Fertility Rates
• As of 2011, the U.S. birth rate is 1.9 births per woman over her lifetime. 2 is the rate required to sustain the population.
• The U.S. is only one of 19 countries with a per-woman birth rate of 1.9 or less (as of Jan 2014).
• The current rate decline started in 2007 and in 2010, it dropped below population-sustaining levels. (Note: the U.S. population is currently still growing. It’s just the rate of yearly increase that has declined.)
• Another way to look at the 2011 birth rate: 63.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44.
The U.S. fertility rate for 2012 hit another record low.Â The rate has dropped for five years straight:
• 2007: 69.3
• 2008: 68.1
• 2009: 66.2
• 2010: 64.1
• 2011: 63.2
• 2012: 63.0
• 1960: 118
This is a 46.6% decline since in fertility rate since 1960. The U.S. population had the slowest rate in 2013 than since the Great Depression — 0.72%.
The Impact of the Economy on Childbearing
Many couples are delaying children, which is not surprising considering that raising a child these days can cost $250-500K or more, from birth to the age of 18.
• 22% of 18-34 year olds are delaying having a baby because of the economy.
• 20% are delaying marriage as well.
• About 1 in 4 adults in the 18-34 age group have returned home to live with parents due to the economy.
• Now while the birth rate for women in their teens and early 20s is at an all-time low, it’s at “the highest level in four decades for women in their early 40s.” For women in their 30s, the rates remained about the same.
Prenatal and Childbirth Costs
Consider the cost of having a baby in a hospital:
• About $30K for vaginal birth,
• $50K for caesarean, according to a study by Truven Health Analytics over five U.S. states.
• Before the ACA (Affordable Care Act), only 12% of health insurance plans covered maternity care.
• So 88% of expectant mothers bear 100% of the cost of the medical bills for pregnancy. This is excluding prenatal care, emergencies, etc.
As of 2014, due to the ACA, some changes are:
• You cannot be refused coverage or charged more on health insurance plans due to being pregnant.
• Your insurance provider must cover preventive care for free. This includes:
◦ Anemia screening
◦ Breastfeeding support and counseling
◦ Folic acid supplements
◦ Hepatitis B screening
◦ Rh incompatibility screening
◦ Urinary tract infection screening
• This will cut down the cost of prenatal medical expenses, which can be about $2K without health insurance.
• Other expenses that insurance plans will have to “cover” (not necessarily free; possible co-pay required):
◦ Anesthesia services during labor and delivery
◦ Hospitalizations during pregnancy
◦ Genetic screenings
◦ Non-invasive fetal testing.
• Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) eligibility will also increase for many mothers and babies.
In other words, plans must now cover pregnancy and childbirth by capping fees. They will not necessarily be free, but the total cost should go down starting in 2014.
Software to the Rescue: Conception Planning Apps
As note, women are waiting until later years for pregnancy. Of course, with that wait is another hurdle to pregnancy. The rate of successful pregnancy goes down as a woman ages, especially starting in the early to mid-30s. Regardless, getting pregnant at any age is not necessarily as easy you might think. For some couples, this is due to poor timing of intercourse. For others, there may be other issues, including but not limited to fertility problems (e.g., stress, environmental toxins, etc.) While about 90% of healthy couples between 20-35 years old will conceive with 12-18 months, sometimes it takes longer. So getting pregnant is not as simple as having frequent unprotected sex close to the expected time of ovulation. Apps like Glow and Ovia allow men and women to build a user profile, answer questions, as appropriate, about health, fertility, sex, ovulation, menstrual cycle and more. For couples tracking their conception attempts on Glow and Ovia’s Web sites or mobile apps, it gets easier to track cycles over several months, and thus easier to more accurately predict the best time for intercourse. This is particularly important for women 35+, but also for all women in general, as ovulation is not always easy to predict, and there is only 4-6 days in the fertile window each month. Also, if a user tracks various health and mood data as well, the apps can indicate whether something is out of the ordinary, based on the user’s history.
Ovuline’s Ovia Fertility app (ovuline.com) claims some very positive stats for women who are using their Web site and mobile apps (only the Apple App Store at time of writing):
• User base is growing by 50K per month (male and female) across their two apps (Ovia Fertility and Ovia Pregnancy).
• The app has been downloaded over 300K times.
• Assuming users track certain information, Ovia can analyze the data.
• Data they collect, at users’ control, includes information about basal body temperature, blood pressure, weight, frequency of intercourse, emotional state, general health, ovulation indicators, nutrition, menstrual cycle, cervical fluid, sleep, and steps (walking, running).
• Data can be added from apps such as Jawbone, Fitbit and MyFitnessPal.
• Gamification points are given for various data points added.
• 1M data points are added about every 2.5 days (~250 data points per minute).
• Over 50M data points have been collected, and Big Data and Machine Learning techniques are used to predict exact ovulation date.
• They claim this methodology helps women conceive up to 3x faster than the national average.
• 50K women over 18 monthsÂ have gotten pregnant while using their app.
• Ovuline is helping 15 women get pregnant every hour. That’s over 2500 (2520) per week, and about 131K per year at that rate.
• CEO Paris Wallace claims that 10% of users deemed medically infertile have been able to conceive while using the app.
• Ovia Fertility app has a collection of 400 articles for reference, available on both Web site and mobile app.
• Current investors include Lightbank, LaunchCapital, Techstars, and LionBird, who have collectively providedÂ $2.75M in VC funding.
In addition to daily data, users can also optionally answer over a hundred questions to build their profile. This includes information about both partners.
Glow (glowing.com), founded by former PayPal co-founder and CTO Max Levchin, has many of the same general features that Ovia Fertility has.Â Other features in Glow:
• Partner mirror, so men can track their significant other’s fertility cycle, add suggestions and daily recommendations.
• Optional passcode to keep personal info in the app private.
• Download and print cycle data for your healthcare provider.
• Glow Genius dashboard that prompts users with reminders to take their temperature, etc.
• No extra cost for premium features (in reference to other period / fertility trackers).
• App is available for both iOS and Android smartphones.
Where Glow really stands out, though, is their Glow First crowdfunding program to cover some of the costs of fertility treatment, for users who qualify. Glow First requires a $50/month subscription to qualify. After 10 months, women who have not conceived yet get an equal share of all subscription money (per program) towards fertility treatments. Glow also announced Glow for Enterprise (U.S. only), a program for employes who want to provide financial assistance for fertility treatments for employees. Employees enroll using their company email address or snapshot of their latest paycheck. Women employees at participating companies do not have to pay into the Glow First crowdfunded program. Companies who have signed up for Glow for Enterprise include the note-taking app maker Evernote. The app so far has helped over 1,000 women conceive in their first four months of business — less than 1/10 the monthly rate of Ovuline (50K women over 18 months). However, they are also courting users who are not trying to conceive. The latter type of user could use the app to track all other personal data, not having to do with conception — which can still come in handy
Other Fertility-Tracking Apps and Gadgets
A few other apps in this growing space include Kindara, Clue, Period Tracker, Fertility Friend, myPill, BabyBump, MyOBGYN. Companies going the hardware route include British company DuoFertility (duofertility.com), which produces a wearable sensor that helps with conception using a monitoring service. The egg-shaped device is worn constantly, under the armpit, and monitors body temperature up to 20,000 times daily. This helps accurately predict the best time for conception based on body temperature changes. The cost of the device starts is about $385 for the Lite plan, which has a $79/month monitoring fee (includes unlimited support). Deluxe and Premium plans cost more but wave a monthly fee and offer additional services.
Information for this article was collected from the following pages and web sites: