As new mom and fellow colleague Ki Mae Heussner said in August, “Once you’ve gotten it in your head that you want to have a baby, you’ll go to all kinds of lengths to make it happen.” While fertility app Glow, which was developed by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, empowers women looking to conceive with plenty of big data to track their bodies, its latest version also makes accommodations to the opposite sentiment — making sure that women who don’t want babies don’t get pregnant.
The new version of Glow, released today for both iOS and Android, now comes with an option to interpret the data for pregnancy prevention as well as conception. Each new user is asked outright whether the app will be used for conception or prevention — and can switch intentions in the app’s settings. If prevention is priority, then the daily questions the app asks — including basal temperature, weight, and other questions — will calculate “risk” of pregnancy instead of likelihood.
Glow is making a natural step forward in expanding its usefulness to the other half of the female population, and it actually comes off as a decent health tracker. By leveraging data from MyFitnessPal, the app serves as sort of an all-in-one dashboard for health-related information: menstrual cycle, weight, temperature, calories and fitness reminders can all be located in a handy place. One issue, however, is that the overall information available for women in pregnancy prevention is a little weak — there’s no way to tell the app if birth control is a factor, or to input dates of yearly exams. Little things like that could help the app feel more like an overall women’s health tool, rather than one for conception.
While it’s not necessarily ideal for women looking to inch toward a specific fitness goal, like losing a certain number of pounds or preparing for an athletic event, it does do more than just aggregate a lot of data. Specifically, Glow (and other fertility apps) can provide the right kind of data to indicate whether a woman is suffering from a disease that can cause infertility down the road, like endometriosis or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. These two diseases in particular are often overlooked during yearly doctor’s exams, largely due to a lack of data or dismissing major symptoms as anomalies. Women who have bizarre cycles may be better tipped off by Glow that something is wrong — it would be nice in the future to see a push notification if the app can tell whether a cycle is irregular enough to signal these diseases, as it might be integral to a woman’s fertility in the long run.
When it comes to raising awareness and gathering data related to women’s health, Glow is certainly doing it with a stylistic flair that helps make pregnancy tracking accessible to all women — not just ones looking to get pregnant. But it can do more in that area, and I’m looking forward to see how it progresses over time.