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Apps Can't Knock You Up
a blog by Jenny Roo August 19, 2013
Let's just say right off the bat here that I am not a type A personality. At any given moment during the day you are likely to find me in some sort of haphazard hair-do, with ninety gajillion tabs and documents open on my desktop and, inevitably, a dog eating something that it shouldn't be eating in the background (apparently all of my sponges have to die). Let me also just say off the bat, I think we can agree here that dealing with infertility is partly an organizational game of keeping on top of your own treatment.
Combine my lack of organizational skills and PCOS, and asking me when my last period is the equivalent of asking me to list all of the meals I've had that have included artichokes. My eyes roll back into my head like I'm about to have some sort of fit, and I find myself trying to picture what the weather was like, what haircut I had and/or who was president. So in theory, for anyone coming up with a Fertility App or Organizer, I am the target.
So by all means, from the bottom of your disheveled internet friends heart, organize yourself. Use Ovuline. Use the new app that PayPal co-founder Max Levchin has released, Glow. (Fair warning, with Glow, you will be asked to enter sexual positions and whether or not you had an orgasm. So, you know, verify that you've downloaded the correct app before you get started and not just a portal to some dude talking dirty in his basement). It can be super handy to have all of your trying-to-conceive info in one spot.
Here's the thing though: an app is not a replacement for a Fertility Doctor. An app is not going to buy you time or reverse it altogether. An app is not going to SOLVE any real fertility issues and only if you're really lucky is it going to hint at them. An app, however thorough, does not diagnose or give someone the ability to diagnose themselves. And until someone releases the ISperm or IPenis or IGuarunteedOvulation or IIntrauterineInsemination, an app is not going to actually knock you up.
There's nothing wrong with data collection - which is what an app like Glow does. It collects a bunch of users information (cervical mucus, sexual frequency, sexual positions, mood) and tries to assemble it in a way that will help you predict when your fertile window is. That, by itself, sounds helpful and can be if you don't mind entering your bedroom information and having it whisked away into that special internet place in the sky. And with provocative titles like Fortune Magazine's "Max Levchin wants to get you pregnant" (which brings to mind a determined man with tanks of sperm and a lifetime supply of turkey basters) who wouldn't be intrigued? I'm all about people wanting to get me pregnant!
But it's a wee bit dangerous putting all your eggs in one... app. The danger is that sure, it can help you track your cervical mucus but while it's doing that it may also help you rationalize putting off getting treatment. Depending too much on an app or your own personal data collection may give you the illusion that you have control over something that you can't control on your own, and/or that you're helping yourself when you're in fact just eating time.
Okay that last statement may have caused some fur to go up. Let me explain.
Your friend has a weird mole. Their solution to this is to download an app and to spend a solid six months just documenting the changes in the mole and whether or not their mood changed dependent on it's color. Fine. But at some point someone's gotta logistically understand that time is not the mole's friend and say 'dude, go see a dermatologist, what are you doing?'
Four years ago when I started trying to have a baby, I did it all. I charted, I tracked my never-ending cycles and learned, courtesy of the internet and Dr. Google, all the ins and outs of a cervix (who knew, in your body, you just had this thing that much like your drunk uncle at a wedding just dances around and spews?). I definitely used apps and found them helpful because, as you would be able to see if you were in front of me judging by the disemboweled sponge on my floor and hair that makes me look like a Yorkshire Terrier, organization is not something that comes easy to me.
That being said - and there's no delicate way of putting this - had I been someone who just messed around with gathering information on my own for too long, I would have been screwed. I am the one in eight.
Had I not seen my awesome Doctor after a year of trying, based on my own information gathering I would have believed I was ovulating (when I wasn't). Had my Doctor not been so very thorough with his testing, we would have had absolutely no idea that anything was going on with my husband's sperm. No application or program on the planet would have accurately diagnosed us much less treated us. Had I disappeared into 'taking care of this on my own' mode for six more months, well.. all that would have done was give me more defined thumbs and make me older when I sought help (and as much as I hate it, much like with weird moles, age is not a friend to the one in eight).
So if you're 22 and have only been trying to conceive for a few months - yes, by all means, let Max Levchin try to knock you up on his own. Track your symptoms, learn about your body, God speed.
If that's not you? I am completely for anyone using any tool at their disposal in tandem with treatment. If there was just a hint of a rumor that doing the limbo for an hour out of the day would help me conceive, no one would get to the broom faster than me. I would not, however, replace my Doctor with a broom-in-hand. Any limboing or app using or cervix checking I do is alongside what I'm doing with my Doctor. Speaking as someone who, much like Max Levchin apparently, wants to knock you up - my pushy suggestion is to do things that will help you in addition to seeking medical treatment, not instead of.