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The Accuracy of Web Sites and Cellular Phone Applications in Predicting the Fertile Window

Setton, Robert MD; Tierney, Christina MD; Tsai, Tony MD

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001341
Contents: Original Research

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the validity of fertility web sites and applications (apps) by comparing the predicted fertile window of these modalities to the actual fertile window of a standard 28-day cycle.

METHODS: This was a descriptive study. The top resulting free web sites and electronic apps downloadable to a cellular phone that provide calendars for fertility and ovulation prediction were assessed. Cycles were standardized to 28 days in length, 4 days of menses, and the last menstrual period was set to January 1, 2015. The predicted date of ovulation and fertility window generated were compared with an actual estimated date of ovulation on cycle day 15, January 15, and a fertile window consisting of cycle day 10 to cycle day 15, the day of ovulation plus the preceding 5 cycle days, January 10–15.

RESULTS: Data from 20 web sites and 33 apps were collected. Of all the web sites and apps used, one web site and three apps predicted the precise fertile window.

CONCLUSION: Web sites and electronic apps used by the general public to predict fertile windows are generally inaccurate, although the clinical effect of this inaccuracy is unknown. Although they all include the most fertile cycle day, the range of the fertility window varies widely. Patients who are trying to conceive with the assistance of calendars generated from web sites and electronic apps should be counseled on the inaccuracy of these modalities.

Web sites and cellular phone applications used by the public to predict fertile windows are generally inaccurate, although the clinical effect of this inaccuracy is unknown.

Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, and New York-Presbyterian/Queens, Queens, New York.

Corresponding author: Robert Setton, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Weill Cornell Medical College, 525 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10021; e-mail: ros9147@nyp.org.

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

Presented at the 2015 Annual District II Meeting, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, October 23–25, 2015, New York, New York, and at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting, May 14–17, 2016, Washington, DC.

The authors thank Ms. Elizabeth Mauer of the Weill Cornell Medical College Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology for her assistance in the statistical analysis.

© 2016 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.