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Why (and how) we built our new fertility planning tool

Why (and how) we built our new fertility planning tool

5 min read

At Modern Fertility, we’re all about increasing access to the reproductive health information that we all deserve. Our at-home fertility hormone test was the first step in making this happen — but what do you actually do with that important info? How can you use it to plan?

To answer those questions, Dr. Nataki Douglas, Modern Fertility’s Medical Advisory Board Chair, and I set out to build a fertility planning tool into the Modern Fertility testing experience.

Our first move? We spent time listening to women at different points in their timelines and talking with fertility experts (like OB-GYNs and reproductive endocrinologists) about what women wanted to know. Then we hit the books — everything from the latest research to clinical guidelines — to find the answers to all your questions (including the ones you didn’t even know you had). See below for a full list of sources we used to build the tool.

Here's what we learned

There aren’t many clinical guidelines for women who are proactively thinking about future pregnancy. (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, has an amazing pre-pregnancy guide, but it’s intended for the conversations you have right before trying to conceive.) And the guidelines that are out there are scattered over multiple sources and subject to opinion.

We also learned that many of the guidelines aren’t designed for the different paths to parenthood. Having sex with a partner is just one of the many ways people are trying to have babies — there are significant differences between same-sex couples, opposite-sex couples, and women who want to have children on their own.

In this process, we even discovered new research. For example: ACOG recommends getting 400 micrograms of folic acid “before pregnancy and during pregnancy,” but they don’t mention how early to start. Thanks to a recent study, we now know that taking prenatal vitamins up a year before getting pregnant may provide some benefit.

Here's what you'll get from your plan

Once we found what was missing from the conversations about future fertility, we got to work consolidating the info, filling in the gaps, and designing a tool that covered everything people with ovaries need to know when thinking about having children.

These are the four biggest things you’ll take away from your plan:

  • Proactive tips to get ready for conception ahead of time: Whether you’re currently trying for kids with a partner (who has sperm or eggs), planning ahead over the next few years, considering having children on your own, thinking about preserving your fertility (through procedures like egg freezing), or still deciding if parenthood is right for you, we’ve got a plan for you.
  • Customized recommendations: We’ll personalize your plan based on your age, body mass index, cycle, birth control, and lifestyle — and we’ll recommend when it’s time to take your next hormone test based on your levels. All of this combined data helps us curate your recommendations (pulled from hundreds of options) and make your plan fit you and your unique circumstances.
  • The latest research on fertility: To create our recommendations, we combed through all of the studies, papers, and research so you don’t have to. We worked with the top physicians to pull the best of the best info to save you the hassle of endless Googling.
  • Facts that might just blow your mind: Through our research, we stumbled on a few things that may surprise you. For example: Did you know that endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA can affect your fertility? BPA could be in a lot of the plastics in your home, including your water bottles and storage containers.

The fertility planning tool isn’t a step-by-step guide to guaranteed pregnancy or a way to troubleshoot if problems arise. Instead, it’s focused on recommendations and info to help you get ready to try to conceive, whenever the time comes.

Why this is so important

We are all looking for a roadmap to build the lives we want — whether or not kids are involved. Your plan can help you get proactive about your fertility, learn more about your reproductive health (through tracking your cycle and cervical mucus), use that info to become your own best health advocate, and prepare your body for whatever comes next.

The tool (in beta) is currently designed for people with ovaries who are thinking about carrying a child, and we know that this doesn’t capture everyone’s experiences. We’d love to hear from you on how we can better provide tips for whatever your path might be. Drop us a line at [email protected].

We want to do more than just bring you education and actionable steps for wherever you are in your reproductive journey. That’s why we’d love for our customers to participate in our ongoing research study. As of right now, the medical community doesn’t have enough data to fully link reproductive hormones, pregnancy, and delivery outcomes in women who aren’t diagnosed with infertility. You can help us move reproductive science forward!

Because we all deserve that knowledge

After months of research and conversations with the community, Dr. Douglas and I are so excited to get the chance to unveil the new planning component of the Modern Fertility experience. Use the fertility planning tool to get all the info you need to be proactive about your reproductive health and start important conversations with your partner, your friends, and your doctor.

Log in to personalize your plan or take the test to get started.

Here's a list of all the medical sources we used to build the fertility planning tool

1. A.C. Gore, et al. EDC-2: The Endocrine Society's second scientific statement on endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Endocrine Reviews, 2015.

2. D. A. J. M. Schoenaker, et al. Socioeconomic position, lifestyle factors and age at natural menopause: a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies across six continents. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2014.

3. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Smoking and infertility. Fact Sheet.

4. T. Freour, et al. Revisiting the association between smoking and female fertility using the oocyte donation model. Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 2018.

5. H. Jick, et al. Relation between smoking and age of natural menopause. The Lancet, 1977.

6. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Optimizing natural fertility: a committee opinion. Fertility and Sterility, 2017.

7. A. Taylor. Extent of the problem. BMJ, 2003.

8. C. Gnoth, et al. Time to pregnancy: results of the German prospective study and impact on the management of infertility. Human Reproduction, 2003.

9. J.O. Doyle, et al. Successful elective and medically indicated oocyte vitrification and warming for autologous in vitro fertilization, with predicted birth probabilities for fertility preservation according to number of cryopreserved oocytes and age at retrieval. Fertility and Sterility, 2016.

10. Committee on Gynecologic Practice. Prepregnancy Counseling, ACOG Committee Opinion. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2019.

11. H.T. Cueto, et al. Folic acid supplementation and fecundability: a Danish prospective cohort study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2015.

12. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Good health before pregnancy: prepregnancy care, 2018.

13. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Fertility awareness-based methods of family planning, 2019.

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Sharon Briggs, PhD

Sharon leads Clinical Product and Research at Modern Fertility. She's a craft beer-loving, soccer-playing, cookie-baking scientist who completed her PhD in Genetics at Stanford University.

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