Ovuline’s apps harness reproductive data to help couples conceive

Alex Baron, cofounder and technology chief at Ovuline, with his son, Michael, 2. Baron said the company’s smartphone apps are helping users conceive three times faster than the national average.
Alex Baron, cofounder and technology chief at Ovuline, with his son, Michael, 2. Baron said the company’s smartphone apps are helping users conceive three times faster than the national average.

It should come as no surprise that computer algorithms can now help couples get pregnant. The power of big data is helping to harness the intricate physiological processes that control fertility, helping more women conceive babies.

The idea that the smartphone is a third party in the bedroom might seem a little meddlesome, but it’s actually just helping nature do its job better, said Alex Baron, founder and chief technical officer at Ovuline, the Boston maker of fertility and pregnancy apps. Baron said monitoring and mining reproductive health data is helping Ovia Fertility users conceive three times faster than the national average.

“Women have long tracked their ovulation and menstrual cycles to avoid or help pregnancy; with health 2.0 technologies, this self-quantifying is more detailed, exact, and scientific,” said Baron, who spoke about new frontiers in app-aided reproduction.

“I call my son Michael our ‘beta baby’ because he was conceived with the help of an ovulation prediction algorithm. Back when I was trying to start a family with my wife, Tatiana, our very first technology piece for Ovuline was to create an algorithm that predicted the most fertile days in a woman’s cycle, based on clinical guidelines. We tried and conceived in the first attempt and so it was one of the first success stories — now since Ovuline was launched three years ago, our users have reported over 170,000 pregnancies and counting.

“This is the next step in digital baby assistance; the first was websites that made it easier to access health information online. That was followed by a social media wave with chat rooms and other communities where patients could share experiences. Now with this data-based approach, women have easy access to a personal device where they can input personal metrics. The app can also analyze measurements logged in by the user such as body temperature, blood pressure, and weight to help predict fertility. This doesn’t take the romance out of the process but rather takes the frustration and anxiety out of the experience.”