Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Ava trials show finger on pulse of fertility tracking

Steve Rogerson
May 25, 2017

Fertility tracking wearables company Ava has unveiled the first results of clinical trials proving correlation between pulse rate and identification of a woman’s fertile window. The Swiss company has also launched a pregnancy app for users who conceive.
The publication of the first findings from its recent clinical trials provide evidence of a significant increase – an average of two beats per minute – in resting pulse rate at the beginning of the fertile window compared with the menstrual phase.
The significance of these findings – which appear in Scientific Reports, a peer-reviewed journal from the Nature Publishing Group – is that resting pulse rate can be used to identify the beginning of the fertile window in real time. In combination with temperature and other supporting parameters, the Ava bracelet detects the five most fertile days of a woman’s cycle. Other methods of fertility tracking such as LH ovulation strips can only identify the last 12 to 24 hours of fertility, and those reliant purely on basal body temperature recognise only the day after ovulation, when the fertile window is already over.
“What many women and their partners don’t realise is that a woman can only get pregnant five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation itself,” said Brigitte Leeners, a fertility and women’s reproductive health expert who led the studies at the University Hospital of Zurich. “In our research, we found that resting pulse rate usually is lowest during menstruation but rises significantly five days before ovulation and again after ovulation. Ava is the first technology that uses temperature, resting pulse rate, and other parameters, including heart rate variability, sleep and bioimpedance, to provide a convenient and accurate at-home method to identify the beginning of the fertile window.”
The pulse rate findings are the result of two separate prospective observational trials. Data from a total of 91 women with these trials were included in the final paper published by Scientific Reports. Both trials were led by Leeners at the University Hospital of Zurich. Pulse rate was measured during sleep using photoplethysmographic (PPG) sensors.
“We are committed to advancing the technology of women’s health tracking and deepening scientific understanding of the menstrual cycle through clinical research,” said Peter Stein, Ava co-founder. “Ava is an innovative way to detect more fertile days, earlier within a woman’s cycle, compared to other methods.”
Ava’s goal with the research was to find out whether it was possible to use wrist-worn wearable sensors to give women an accurate, convenient, at-home method of predicting ovulation. The clinical study concluded that temperature and resting pulse rate could be used along with several other parameters to detect the fertile window precisely. Resting pulse rate increases at the beginning of the fertile window and continues to increase after ovulation, reaching a peak in the mid-luteal phase when it is 3.5 beats higher than during the menstrual phase.
To date, the University Hospital Zurich and Ava have presented the results of these trial results at several OB-Gyn conferences in Europe and the USA, including SGGG, DGGG and ASRM, and the World Congress of the Academy of Human Reproduction in addition to publishing a paper in Scientific Reports. Ava has plans to publish additional papers based on additional findings from data gathered in this and on-going clinical trials related to skin temperature, ovulation confirmation, contraception and physiological indicators of complications during pregnancy.
Ava also announced it will be introducing extra features for its mobile app designed for Ava users who conceive, to be used during pregnancy. The new app experience – available next month for Ava users – provides week-by-week, in-depth explanations of the changes that occur throughout pregnancy for mother and baby, as well as information about sleep quality and quantity, physiological stress, resting pulse rate, skin temperature, and weight.
“With more than 50 confirmed pregnancies to date among Ava users, we wanted to add features enabling them to continue monitoring their sleep and physiological stress throughout pregnancy,” said Lea von Bidder, co-founder of Ava Science. “Ava’s vision is to accompany women through all different life stages and this is a major step for us in reaching that vision. ”
Founded in Switzerland in 2014 by Pascal Koenig, Philipp Tholen, Peter Stein and Lea von Bidder, Ava is a medical technology company dedicated to bringing innovation to women’s reproductive health. The Ava bracelet is the company’s first consumer product. It uses sensor technology combined with clinically tested data science to detect a woman’s entire fertile window in real time. The company is also conducting clinical studies to adapt and expand its algorithms for use in pregnancy monitoring, and future use as a non-hormonal contraceptive device. Backed by seed and series A funding, Ava has operations in Zurich and San Francisco.