When a woman goes to a gynaecologist after failing to get pregnant naturally, the doctor immediately advises a follicular monitoring test, which essentially tracks ovulation. During the menstrual cycle of a woman, ovulation is the only time when she can conceive. And if a woman misses this ‘fertile window’ lasting six to 10 days, she must wait until the next cycle.
Now, how do you know when you are ovulating, or whether you are ovulating at all? While follicular monitoring is the obvious option, there are ways to know this sitting at home too. Like pregnancy kits, there are ovulation kits available in the market to help women know their ‘fertile window’ from the convenience of their home.
While ovulation kits are not new to the medical world, the option was not easily available to women in India till a few years ago. However, several brands have now come out with this — some with test strips like pregnancy kits, and some even with ovulation monitors that track cycles and keep a record. The newest entrant to this market is Inito.
Inito’s diagnostic device allows women to do a fertility test by tracking their cycles. It works by identifying up to six fertile days. Inito fertility test monitor measures Estrogen & Luteinizing Hormone (LH) in urine and also understands cycle variations. It claims to give highly accurate results unique to every individual woman’s cycle and thus “increases the chance of her getting pregnant naturally by 89 per cent”.
Though released with the single feature of ovulation test, the Inito device, available online for Rs 2699, has been designed to eventually perform dozens of lab-grade diagnostic tests at home.
The device comes with the Inito Reader, an app and test strips. It’s easy to use, as you just need to put urine sample on the test strip to be inserted into the device. The device is then attached to your phone whose camera captures images of the strip and the device processes the images using calibration areas built inside the device to calculate the result. The Inito app displays the result and also tracks the values for analysis. You can get results such as low, high or peak fertility displayed on the app on your phone.
Inito says you can accurately monitor your fertile period even if you have irregular cycles as the device adapts itself to your cycle.
The device is compatible with iOS 9.0 or later and Android 4.1 or later handsets. The product has won the CII Design Award, the India Design Mark and the Japanese Good Design Award.
It claims to have gone through multiple levels of testing, and validated with lab grade readers, ELISA method as well ultrasound-based follicular scanning.
Tests including thyroid, Vitamin D and diabetes are planned to be added to the device in the next six months. According to the company’s plans, the app will ultimately support 18-20 tests over the years covering most lifestyle conditions and 70 per cent of infectious diseases.
“Addition of more tests takes just an app update and ordering the strip for the user. Third party strips can also be added to the Inito platform by just an app upgrade,” says Aayush Rai, an IIT Roorkee alumnus who along with Varun AV, an IIT Madras alumnus, founded the Bengaluru-based company in 2015.
“The reagents and raw material for strips gets procured in Germany and assembled in an ISO-approved contract manufacturer in India. For the device, components get made in different geographies and final assembly is done in India,” Rai told Thestatesman.com.
Dr Lavanya Kiran, gynaecologist at Narayana Group of Hospitals and a pioneer of robotic surgeries, was on the panel of doctors taken on board during research before the device was launched. “Tracking ovulation in the comfort of your home relieves the stress of waiting in a busy OPD or scan centre. Moreover, having a record of your cycle trends helps the doctor do a better diagnosis in case a treatment is required,” she says.
What is ovulation?
A woman is said to be born with around 2 million oocytes inside her ovaries. Oocytes are immature eggs, the number of which reduces with age. By puberty, a girl is left with around 300,000 of them, according to medical science. Ovulation is the release of this egg from a woman’s ovaries. A woman can ovulate only 300 to 400 eggs during her reproductive lifetime, say doctors.
After the egg is released, it travels down the fallopian tube where it may get fertilised by a sperm cell.
Ovulation typically occurs two weeks before a woman expects to get her period, and lasts a day. The timing, however, varies for each woman, and the process may not be identical in even two consecutive cycles of a woman.
If a woman wants to conceive, it is advised to keep track of her ovulation date.
What is follicular monitoring or follicle scan?
When you ovulate, a mature egg is released through the fallopian tube, and becomes available for fertilisation. According to doctors, an egg is available to be fertilised by a sperm for only 12-24 hours, and it is just one mature egg that is released during one ovulation cycle. An intercourse before and during ovulation can only result in pregnancy.
While an average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, starting from the first day of one period to the first day of the next period, cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 45 days, depending on age and medical conditions. However, many women complain of irregular periods, and this makes it difficult to ascertain the time when a woman is ovulating. This is when follicular monitoring test comes into the picture.
Follicular monitoring is a series of ultrasound vaginal scans that help you know if you are ovulating and precisely when. It is a long process that carries on for days together during the menstrual cycle. These scans usually start around 9th day of your cycle and continue till the 20th day, and they pinpoint when a follicle ruptures and releases an egg. While the test can throw up a number of conditions that may be preventing a woman from getting pregnant, tracking ovulation remains the main reason it is advised by doctors. This scan is needed if you are not sure when you are ovulating, and to see whether you are ovulating at all. It greatly increases the chances of conceiving. According to most doctors, a woman is ovulating if she gets regular and predictable periods.
Ovulation kits available in India
While Inito has been launched recently, a few other brands are also available in India. These are i-Know by Piramal Healthcare, First Response Daily Digital Ovulation Test, and Clearblue fertility monitor, among others.