iCycleBeads: New iPhone application for planning and avoiding pregnancy

December 2, 2010
iCycleBeads, a scientifically-based family planning tool developed by researchers from Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health, is the first software application that enables a woman to plan or avoid pregnancy easily and effectively, entirely through the information provided by the application. Credit: Cycle Technologies

A scientifically-based family planning tool developed by researchers from Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health, a part of Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC), is now available as an easy-to-use iPhone ®, iPod touch® or iPad™ application. iCycleBeads™ is the first software application that enables a woman to plan or avoid pregnancy easily and effectively, entirely through the information provided by the application.

To use iCycleBeads a woman simply enters into the "app" the starting date of her most recent period and any historical data on her menstrual cycles that she may have. At the touch of a button, iCycleBeads shows her where she is in her cycle and whether she is on a day when pregnancy is likely or not.

The "app" is designed as a virtual representation of actual CycleBeads®, a string of 32 color-coded beads. A calendar view is also available. A red bead or box marks the first day of a woman's cycle, brown represents days when pregnancy is unlikely, and white represents days when pregnancy is likely. The user will also receive alerts that notify her when she is in her fertile window, when she is on a day when pregnancy is unlikely, and when she is likely to get her period. An alert will also prompt her to enter her cycle data if she forgets.

"Electronic devices like iPhones are increasingly popular and we see this technology as an important new way to reach . We think that iCycleBeads will appeal to any woman who is interested in effectively and easily managing her fertility and uses a compatible mobile digital device," said Victoria Jennings, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Reproductive Health and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at GUMC.

The new "app" is modeled on the popular tool, CycleBeads. Based on sophisticated computer modeling of reproductive physiology data and tested in large-clinical trials, CycleBeads lets a woman know her cycle length and clearly identifies days eight through 19 of her cycle as the days during which she is fertile. These 12 days take into account the life span of the woman's egg (about 24 hours) and the viable life of sperm (about five days) as well as the variation in the actual timing of ovulation from one cycle to the next.

iCycleBeads, a scientifically-based family planning tool developed by researchers from Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health is the first software application that enables a woman to plan or avoid pregnancy easily and effectively, entirely through the information provided by the application. Credit: Cycle Technologies

The Institute for Reproductive Health has developed the only natural methods of family planning that have been clinically tested and introduced on an international scale. CycleBeads and iCycleBeads were designed for women with cycles between 26 and 32 days, an estimated 80 percent of women of reproductive age.

Cycle Technologies, the manufacturer of CycleBeads, is offering iCycleBeads at the Apple store. "We are pleased that Cycle Technologies has taken this fertility management tool high tech. While many women still prefer having something tangible like CycleBeads to hold in their hands, having an electronic version will make this family planning method available to the millions of women who use computerized "apps" for so many things every day," said Jennings, an internationally respected family planning researcher who is a co-developer of CycleBeads.

iCycleBeads will be available worldwide. Potential users of this new "app" include many of the approximately 60 million women in the United States who are of reproductive age – 15 to 44 years of age. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 3 million unplanned pregnancies each year. An estimated twenty percent of women who believe they are infertile are actually mistiming their efforts to get pregnant. iCycleBeads can help address these issues with a high tech solution.

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