Hi everyone! Thanks for being here. This post is all about my informative chat with Lindsay Meisel, head of content at the ovulation tracking company, Ava Science.
“I believe it’s important for all women — not just those trying to get pregnant — to understand their menstrual cycle. I’m surprised at how little I knew about my cycle prior to wearing Ava.” — Lindsay Meisel
As a fertility doctor, I agree with her as I’ve seen the complexities and confusion that can arise with menstrual cycles.
Please note: I am not paid by Ava to write this post or have this discussion. I just love talking with people that are as passionate as I am about fertility. Any tool that helps women be more informed about their bodies and fertility is a big win in my book!
Dr. Aimee: Tells us how the bracelet worked for you.
Lindsay: I started wearing the bracelet before preparing to get pregnant. This helped me to get a good baseline for what a typical menstrual cycle looked like for me. Things like: when I ovulated, the length of my luteal phase, and understanding what’s a normal cycle for me. Then I wore it to help while getting pregnant. After wearing it for three cycles I got pregnant and had a miscarriage. Then I wore it for three more cycles, got pregnant, and had a baby.”
Dr. Aimee: Did you observe any differences in the bracelet during her miscarriage cycle vs. pregnancy cycle?
Lindsay: Yes —my temperature and heart rate didn’t drop, they stayed up at the time when they would typically drop to start the period. In the miscarriage cycle, they looked similar to when a cycle would start.
Dr. Aimee: You’ve mentioned some important medical terms that our readers may not be familiar with. Can you define them for us, please?
Lindsay: Follicular Phase: The first half of your cycle. It starts on the first day of your period and it ends when you ovulate.
Luteal Phase: It starts right after you ovulate and it goes until your next cycle begins.
Dr. Aimee: How does the Ava Bracelet tell you what’s follicular and what’s luteal?
Lindsay: The Ava bracelet tracks every phase of your cycle and so tells you when your fertile window starts, when you ovulate, and so by definition that shows you both phases of your cycle. It’s really designed to detect the beginning of your fertile window in real-time.
The entire fertile window is 6 days long, maximum. It may vary and be less according to your cervical mucus or your partner’s sperm health.
If you’re tracking ovulation with temperature or ovulation tests or the calendar method you’re probably not getting that entire 6-day window to plan. So you may be missing out on those days to plan.”
Dr. Aimee: Tracking your ovulation or fertility window using only your temperature, ovulation test, or the calendar method is very 2010.
Dr. Aimee: It is almost 2020 — we can do better.
Does Ava have a brother bracelet, like the Kevin bracelet? To buzz your man to do chores and for men to say, “what can I do for you, how can I help?” I’m kidding of course, but I think it would be helpful!
I hate the fact that my patients become so obsessive over everything — the charting and the temping. I tell people, “put the thermometer down”. And it’s why I love the Ava bracelet.
Dr. Aimee: I want to dispel a rumor or myth that I’ve heard that the Ava bracelet will buzz and wake you up in the middle of the night. Is this true?
Lindsay: No. It does have a silent alarm feature that will vibrate if you want an alarm that can wake you (like any alarm clock), but not your partner, while you’re both in bed. There’s no other buzzing besides that.
Dr. Aimee: So why would you want to have any buzzing on the watch?
Lindsay: If you’re someone that uses an alarm clock and you want to wake at a different time than your partner.
Dr. Aimee: What other things does it track?
Lindsay: Ava tracks seven physiological parameters:
- Resting Heart rate
- Heart rate variability
- Breathing rate
We use machine learning algorithms which takes all of these data points and puts them into what some people describe as a “black box”. This “box” learns how all these data sets behave in many, many women to then detect patterns that indicate your fertile window that may not be obvious to the naked eye.
Breathing rate and heart rate increase during the fertile window, but it doesn’t mean you can look at any one data point alone and make conclusions about what’s happening. The magic in Ava is the collection of all the data to take on the mental labor for you of determining your fertile window.
Dr. Aimee: Tell us about the sleep tracking component of Ava.
Lindsay: You can see total sleep and time spent in deep (REM) sleep, light sleep, and both combined.
The nice thing about Ava is that we don’t have an incentive to sell your data to any other company as our device (product) is relatively expensive at a $300 price point.
If you buy our “plus package” and you wear it 80% of the time and you don’t get pregnant in a year then you will get your money back.
To be clear, you only wear the Ava bracelet during sleep. It doesn’t help wearing it during the day as we want to understand your physiological parameters absent of other activity.
Dr. Aimee: What are some mistakes people make when they’re trying to get pregnant? What have your Ava users told you they didn’t know prior to wearing the device?
Lindsay: The biggest thing we hear is using ovulation tests wrong. Many people focus too much on the day of ovulation, or the day before. But all of the research studies show the best days are really the three days leading up to ovulation.
So when you use ovulation tests and they give you a 24-hour warning and you’re waiting to have sex when that ovulation test tells you you’re about to ovulate, then your most fertile days may already be behind you.
That’s why Ava is designed to tell you when your fertile window begins because you want to start having sex early and often in the fertile window. 3–5 days before ovulation may be better than the ovulation window itself.
Dr. Aimee: I agree. I feel like people make an assumption that they need to save up and wait and go for it only on ovulation day. But I definitely guide my patients and tell them to start having sex three days before when they think they’re ovulating.
Dr. Aimee: What is late ovulation?
Lindsay: If you have a 28-day menstrual cycle it doesn’t mean you’ll ovulate on day 14. You may ovulate on day 18. You must track something physiological about your body to understand when ovulation happens in your cycle.
The same with early ovulation. Some people can get pregnant while on their period. Yes. Some people get pregnant while menstruating!
Dr. Aimee: Are there any new Ava product developments that we should look out for?
Lindsay: We’re looking to identify a window of when to avoid sex if you’re preventing pregnancy. So to use Ava as a contraception tool.
While I am not getting paid to promote or talk about Ava, I do believe in the power of tools to understand your fertility. For that reason, I hope this chat with Lindsay was helpful regardless of where you are on your fertility journey.
The net, net? Try not to rely on what a calendar or standard cycle may be described as in a textbook to understand your body. Your body isn’t like everyone else’s. If you can afford to do so then getting an Ava bracelet may make sense for you and your fertility goals.
As always, I encourage you to reach out here in the comments or email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions. Or if you have a suggested topic for a future show.
You can also catch more of me and topics like this through The Egg Whisperer Show. The episodes are live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter and on Wednesdays at 7 PM PST. Subscribe to the podcast too!