Survey Analysis of Quantitative and Qualitative Menstrual Cycle Tracking Technologies
fertility monitoring, luteinizing hormone, mobile applications, ovulation detection, temperature tracking, urine hormone tests
Background and Objectives: Digital health and personalized medicine are advancing at an unprecedented pace. Users can document their menstrual cycle data in a variety of ways, including smartphone applications (apps), temperature tracking devices, and at-home urine hormone tests. Understanding the needs and goals of women using menstrual cycle tracking technologies is the first step to making these technologies more evidence based. The purpose of this study was to examine the current use of these technologies and explore how they are being used within the context of common hormonal and reproductive disorders, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and infertility. Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study evaluating menstrual cycle tracking technology use. Participants were recruited in January–March 2023 using social media groups and a Marquette Method instructor email listserv. Data were collected using an electronic survey with Qualtrics. Data collected included participant demographics, menstrual cycle characteristics, reproductive health history, and menstrual cycle tracking behavior. Results: Three-hundred and sixty-eight participants were included in the analysis. Women had various motivations for tracking their menstrual cycles. Most participants (72.8%) selected “to avoid getting pregnant” as the primary motivation. Three hundred and fifty-six participants (96.7%) reported using a fertility awareness-based method to track and interpret their menstrual cycle data. The Marquette Method, which utilizes urine hormone tracking, was the most frequently used method (n = 274, 68.2%). The most frequently used cycle technology was a urine hormone test or monitor (n = 299, 81.3%), followed by a smartphone app (n = 253, 68.8%), and a temperature tracking device (n = 116, 31.5%). Women with PCOS (63.6%), endometriosis (61.8%), and infertility (75%) in our study reported that the use of tracking technologies aided in the diagnosis. Most participants (87.2%) reported a high degree of satisfaction with their use and that they contributed to their reproductive health knowledge (73.9%). Conclusions: Women in our study reported avoiding pregnancy as their primary motivation for using menstrual cycle tracking technologies, with the most frequently used being a urine hormone test or monitor. Our study results emphasize the need to validate these technologies to support their use for family planning. Given that most women in this study reported using a fertility awareness-based method, the results cannot be generalized to all users of menstrual cycle tracking technologies.
Stujenske, T., Mu, Q., Pérez Capotosto, M., & Bouchard, T. (2023). Survey Analysis of Quantitative and Qualitative Menstrual Cycle Tracking Technologies. Medicina (Lithuania), 59 (9). https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina59091509