Sometimes it takes a dongle to do a finger’s job. Or at least that’s the premise behind Pokr, a new device that helps women check the quality of their cervical mucus so they can enter that data in fertility tracking apps including Glow, Fertility Friend, Kindara, Clue and Ovia.
The dongle, made from silicone and shaped like a real finger for maximum ease of use, plugs into your iPhone’s headphone jack. Fertility apps make lofty promises to women who are trying to get pregnant (or not), but if used only to track menstrual cycle lengths, then they are essentially just glorified notebooks.
In order to get the full benefit of their algorithms, women have to enter their basal body temperature and the texture of their cervical mucus each day. That’s important because temperatures change the closer women get to ovulation, and their cervical mucus (or CM) becomes more slippery, clear, and bountiful, like egg whites. Each woman usually ovulates at different times in her cycle and is only fertile for a few days, making close monitoring of her body’s signals even more important.
You can check your CM by looking at the toilet paper after you wipe or by inserting a clean finger into your vagina and reaching toward your cervix (which is deeper inside). You’re likely to find more CM if you check after a bowel movement. Some women check after they shower every day. It is helpful if you check at roughly the same time each day so that Glow can get consistent measurements.
But Glow is arguably making a lot of assumptions about its users. How does someone check their cervix at about the same time each day if she has a busy schedule? Is she supposed to excuse herself in the middle of a business dinner, go the restroom, wash her hands, stick her finger up her vagina, swish it around until she swipes up enough cervical mucus, examine it, enter the results into her smartphone, wash her hands, and then go back to eating with her clients?
That’s where Pokr, which includes a companion app (currently iOS only) in addition to its finger-shaped dongle, comes in. To use Pokr, a user simply plugs it into her smartphone and inserts it into her vagina. Then she shakes her phone so the app can detect her CM and gauge its viscosity using a proprietary algorithm developed by Pokr’s data scientists at R&D centers in San Francisco, Shanghai, and Ho Chi Minh City.
After it measures her cervical mucus, Pokr’s app automatically records that information and sends it to the fertility app of her choice using IFTTT recipes.