In the last decade, the female technology sector, or ‘femtech’, has seen a drastic increase in its innovative products and services that are dedicated to improving women’s health. This subset of medical technology products and services addresses issues from menstrual care, pregnancy, fertility, to general health and wellness. When it comes to fertility, femtech is an invaluable resource for both its direct and indirect benefits.
Pelex was able to exploit one of women’s healthcare’s biggest issues during the pandemic: healthcare accessibility. Pelex is an online women’s reproductive health and fertility platform dedicated to making care easier to initiate and more accessible. Clue, is a mobile menstrual health app, was an early pioneer in the femtech sector. The app offers users the ability to track their cycles, cervical mucus, sexual intercourse, and learn more about the intricacies of fertility. Not only do Clue’s services provide its users with important information about their menstrual health, but period tracking can be used to improve one’s understanding of their own reproduction and fertility. Both Pelex and Clue provide “FemTech” tools that give women key information about their bodies that not only empower them but allow them to take control of their bodies.
Clue’s Chief Medical Officer, Lynae Brayboy, MD, recently joined our CEO and founder Erin Wolff, MD, FACOG, as well as Dianna Mesion-Jackson, co-founder of KORĒ (a reproductive health and wellness platform) to discuss important topics surrounding fertility and reproduction.
Important takeaways from this discussion included information on the value in tracking menstrual cycles, having a reproductive life plan, misconceptions about birth control and fertility, and more.
Dr. Brayboy spoke on the importance of period tracking, affirming that its “your own medical record” and can supply your healthcare provider with pertinent health information and valuable for when you are interested in getting pregnant.
If having a child is something that a woman should want in her lifetime, Dr. Brayboy and Dr. Wolff strongly recommends having are productive life plan that outlines one’s goals for reproduction and pregnancy. Since the first step of this process includes consulting with a healthcare provider, this is one instance where having a ‘medical record’ of one’s menses would come in handy.
The discussion also covered misconceptions surrounding birth control use and fertility. While infertility is not directly related to the use of birth control, Dr. Wolff expressed her conviction that having an irregular period before going on birth control for a substantial period of time, such as15 years, should not mean one will not face challenges with fertility once stopping birth control. After stopping birth control, the timeframe for one’s period to return is “very variable, depending on the person and the age and what their reproductive status is underlying when they come off.”
This goes back to the importance of having a reproductive life plan and period tracking. This can arm women and couples with knowledge of their bodies and reproductive health, but how they can plan for a family.
During the conversation both experts defined infertility as an age dependent description. Under the age of 35, infertility is marked by “12months of trying to conceive without being able to (and that could mean intercourse or that could mean donor inseminations).” Over the age of 35, “it's six months of trying to conceive” without successfully getting pregnant. While this certainly provides with women certain benchmarks and parameters for infertility, this shouldn’t stop them from learning about your reproductive health or seeking treatment.
It is important that women use tools like the Clue App to help track their symptoms and cycle and seek care proactively, not reactively. Platforms like Pelex make care easier to initiate and is widely accessible.
Dr. Wolff is the founder of Pelex, a concierge fertility practice where she educates her patients in the complexities of assisted reproduction and serves as their advocate throughout their journeys toward parenthood.
For gay men looking to become parents, gestational surrogacy has become a popular option. In the past, it was more common for a surrogate to be artificially inseminated and then carry the baby to term. With gestational surrogacy, one woman donates the eggs and a second woman carries the baby. In this case, the success rate can be influenced by selecting both the healthiest eggs and the healthiest gestational carrier. One or both men can contribute the sperm that is used to form the embryo (or embryos).