Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

New Technology, Same Mistakes

July 22nd, 2010 by Elizabeth Kissling

Screen shot from iOvulation appWe’ve written previously about some of the apps for tracking menstruation and PMS, but this new iPhone/Pad app for tracking ovulation is problematic.

iOvulation is an application that calculates the time of ovulation and generates your personal fertility calendar. Simply enter the length of your menstrual cycle and the date of your last period, and iOvulation will calculate your fertile days.

The web site suggests it useful both for trying to conceive and for trying to prevent conception. However, I wouldn’t recommend the latter, as its algorithm appears to predict ovulation based on dates of menstruation: “The ovulation dates are calculated based on normal menstruation calculation logic for women having regular periods.”

In other words, it perpetuates what Toni Weschler, author of Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement and Reproductive Health and Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body, labeled the two biggest myths about menstruation in this interview with Scarleteen: (1) the idea that ovulation occurs on Day 14, and (2) A normal menstrual cycle is 28 days.

Also of interest is how squeamish the creators appear to be about sex and reproduction: the web site refers to “unprotected i*********e” and notes that the probability of conception is calculated “based on your ovulation time and other factors such as lifespan of the egg and s***m”. (For those of you unaccustomed to the practice of concealing obscenity with asterisks, that’s “intercourse” and “sperm”.)

As someone who studies and teaches sociolinguistics and writes about menstruation, I’ve seen a lot of euphemistic language over the years. But marking intercourse and sperm as unfit for print is a first.

5 responses to “New Technology, Same Mistakes”

  1. Therese says:

    The asterisks are so strange. Is it an iPhone app, because Apple does seem strangely squeamish over the most benign terms. That’s a disturbing story in itself.

  2. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    Yes, iPhone/iPad app – I’ve revised the post to clarify that. Thanks.

    And yes, also to the strange squeamish censorship. That’s actually what I found most interesting about the marketing of this app!

  3. Sarah says: predicts your ovulation based on your own cycle. The longer you use it, the more accurate it is. I have an irregular cycle and it does a pretty decent job of predicting my next period. I don’t know anything about its accuracy in regards to ovulation, though.

  4. Tori says:

    I’d strongly recommend *NOT* relying on for ovulation prediction. I’ve been using it for 2 years while also tracking my cycle signs. keeps wanting to label my ovulation as happening in the exact middle of my cycle, regardless of the fact that that suggests (inaccurately) a significantly varying luteal phase length.

  5. Jessica says:

    Have you all reviewed the FemCal app? I use that one on my iPod Touch to chart my cycle (in addition to a number of other charting methods, as I am an NFP nerd).

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