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Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor

Why the Pregnancy Test May Soon Be Obsolete

What can't wearables do?
PUBLISHED ON 01/31/2018

Peeing on a stick is basically a rite of passage for women hoping to get pregnant. But, when you get down to it, it’s kind of gross. According to some researchers, the pregnancy test may soon be a thing of the past. They’re working on a new smartwatch system that will alert women when they’ve conceived.

Actually, that smartwatch isn’t totally new. The technology comes from the folks at Ava, who created a bracelet to track your fertility while you sleep. The initial version alerted you at the beginning of your fertile window to give you an average of five days for primetime babymaking, gathering data like sleep, stress levels and heart rate. But the latest iteration can now also identify whether or not you've ovulated—something that's trickier to nail down than you'd expect.

Ava Co-Founder Lea von Bidder says about 12 percent of women have anovulatory cycles, or cycles without ovulation. Standard fertility trackers wouldn't be able to identify that, since they only detect the skin temperature changes related to different phases of your cycle. Ava now fills in the missing parts of the puzzle to identify ovulation, including pulse. This paints a better picture of progesterone levels, which spike after ovulation.

This puts Ava a step closer to their goal of pinpointing conception in versions of the product to come.

In collaboration with the University Hospital of Zurich, the Ava team conducted a clinical trial published in the journal Fertility & Sterility September 2017. The results show the sensor technology on the bracelet has the potential to detect pregnancy. Essentially, the hardware may be able to identify small physiological changes that occur during early pregnancy, including heart rate variability, pulse rate, and temperature changes between cycles.

“We’re excited about this research because it fits in with our long-term vision, which has always been for Ava to become lasting companion for women, giving them data-driven and scientifically proven insights along all stages of their reproductive lives,” von Bidder says in a press release.

While Ava’s not quite there yet, the team hopes pregnancy detection is one of many advancements to come from the bracelet, along with monitoring PCOS and pregnancy complications.

In the meantime, if you need a wearable device to tell you you’re pregnant, you’ll have to turn to your Fitbit.

PHOTO: Ava