An Honest Review of Pearl Fertility Kit

I tried the Pearl Fertility Kit. During my first kit, I got a little confused when the kit did not seem to line up with my fertility signs. However, I contacted Pearl Fertility and they were super helpful. They sent me another kit for free, and it worked perfectly when I tried it this last cycle.

Pearl is a product marketing to women who are trying to conceive (TTC). The product explicitly states that it should not be used to avoid pregnancy. The kit contained 15 follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) strips, 15 luteinizing hormone (LH) strips, and 4 progesterone (PdG) strips. It also included a few pink dye pregnancy tests. As I am not currently trying to conceive, I did not use these.

The app claims to open a woman’s fertile window by scanning the FSH and LH strips and giving you a fertility window from these results.

If anyone wants to try this product, I highly suggest tracking your cervical mucus, as good quality cervical mucus (eggwhite, clear, stretchy, wet) is what allows sperm to survive to meet an egg. Progesterone tests need not be used until at least 4 days past your peak day (the last day of good quality cervical mucus). Even then, some women do not see positive progesterone tests until as late as 7-10 days past ovulation. For more information, visit Proov’s website linked at the end of this article. By charting your real fertility signs, you could use these tests more wisely.

Overall, I thought the Pearl Fertility Kit was super cool. FSH strips are a brand new thing, and I have high hopes for them being integrated into a real fertility awareness based method in the future. If you have the money to invest in Pearl, this can be a fun kit to experiment with. Basically you get to see three main hormones of the menstrual cycle play out. Pearl graphs them for you.

If you cannot afford Pearl, do remember that it is free to chart cervical mucus and that this is always the best indicator for when to have sex when trying to achieve pregnancy. Without cervical mucus, sperm will never make it to the egg on its own.

Here is what my Pearl chart for this month looks like:

The highest pink dot is my positive LH strip.

Here is my Pearl information compared to my symptothermal method chart. In this chart, FSH equals Ferning since Kindara does not have an FSH category.

The Pearl fertile window is indicated by the green lights. It did start my fertile window on a day pregnancy was unlikely since there was no mucus. The blue hearts represent the fertile mucus where sperm can survive. These two fertile windows lined up pretty well.

Overall, I would rate myself satisfied with this kit.

One tip:

From the calendar screen, you can override what tests Pearl is asking for. I only suggest doing this if you are charting your other fertility signs (cervical mucus and basal body temperature) and know that something is not lining up right.

In addition to the strips, Pearl has spaces to track intercourse, your period, and pregnancy status.

Curious to know more about the fertility signs?

If you want to learn how to chart your real fertility signs to achieve or avoid pregnancy, read my guide to getting started.

Look for my next blog on using Proov progesterone tests.

Free Downloadable Paper Charts

I created some #NFPTA inspired paper charts. These charts can also be used for methods like Taking Charge of Your Fertility, Sensiplan, and other STMs (like the one I teach) too.

I always have trouble finding charts without temperature scales. As someone with lower temperatures than average, the standard temperature scale just doesn’t work for me. These charts have totally blank temperature scales. They will work for F or C charting.

I also included a page with space for cycle notes, method rules, and legends for certain things on the chart.

Click Here to Download a Blank Paper Chart PDF.

Click Here to Download a Blank Paper Chart Microsoft Word Document

If you don’t want to print them, screenshot the PDF of the chart and paste it into a program like Microsoft Paint. You can fill in the squares of the chart yourself to make your own kind of chart pattern.

An Example of a Simple Chart

digital chart

  • Red = Menstruation
  • Tan = Dry Day
  • Yellow = Non Peak Mucus
  • Green = Pink Mucus
  • Pink = Unprotected Sex
  • Blue = Protected Sex

 

How To Learn FAM On A Budget (And Why You Don’t Need Expensive Femtech to Chart)

When I first stumbled on the sympto-thermal method, I was lucky enough to find Groove‘s website. It intrigued me, and when I tried to learn more, I quickly came across Natural Cycles (an app recently approved by the FDA). I didn’t know much about fertility at the time, but the price of Natural Cycles turned me off. I also ran into into the Daysy thermometer and saw that it cost over $300.

It had me like…

Groove’s website had shown me that I could do the method for free. Luckily, a friend recommended Kindara to me soon after. Someone in the Kindara community told me to buy Taking Charge of Your Fertility and to join Fertility Awareness Method of Birth Control on Facebook. Thus, my charting journey began with a fifteen dollar book and a ten dollar thermometer. As a broke graduate student, it was an investment that I could afford.

I’m not alone in having Natural Cycles or Daysy catch my eye with an advertisement. Many women begin their charting journey when they are drawn in by the advertisements of femtech or “female fertility” devices. These devices promise to interpret a woman’s fertility for her. Rather than teaching women how to tell when they may be fertile, these devices rely on algorithms and ignore other vital fertility signs.

While I am glad that these devices get the word out about natural birth control, the problem with these devices is twofold. To begin with, the devices are pricey investments that many families may not be able to afford. Many people may be misled and believe that it costs hundreds of dollars to use a form of fertility awareness. Others may buy the device without realizing that the devices do not offer the same accuracy as a real sympto-thermal method. They don’t offer the close instruction that many women with troubling cycles may need (especially those confusing cycles that can happen post-pill).

Natural Cycles costs around $10 per month, or around $80 annually, while Daysy costs several hundred dollars. Neither app takes into account cervical mucus (the thing that keeps sperm alive, ie what allows pregnancy to occur). It is beyond me why they don’t think to educate women about this vital fertility sign, but it is my belief that women should be fully informed and able to interpret their own fertility signs. These devices don’t promote empowerment, but instead ask for women to blindly rely on femtech devices. It is easy to be misled by advertisements, and women may not run into many peer-reviewed studies if they aren’t looking. Recent studies have shed light on the true efficacy of devices like Daysy. Click here to read about a recent incident regarding how Daysy is misleading (and here to read the peer-reviewed study) regarding the efficacy.

Natural Cycles is very open about its 93% typical use efficacy rating, but why would women pay ten dollars a month for a lower efficacy than what they could achieve by working with an instructor? I think that sometimes when women buy these devices they have come into charting with little knowledge of their own fertility and may feel that they can trust technology over their own interpretations of their fertility. Ladies, we are smart. With a little help and guidance, we can learn to determine our own fertile windows with a more reliable method than this device. Fertility awareness can be really empowering, and knowing your own body is a fantastic feeling.

When women are taught by an instructor, the sympto-thermal method typical use efficacy rating is 98.2% (self-learning has not been studied for efficacy). By working under an instructor, women can achieve self-reliance when it comes to interpreting their cycle. Instructors can help clear up tricky charts, and help women understand their own cervical mucus. A one time investment in instruction can provide a woman with years of reliable birth control. After a major life event like the birth of a baby or during times of hormonal change, women may need support with charting again. Otherwise, learning how to chart can serve a woman until menopause. Finding an instructor and buying a reasonably priced thermometer is both cheaper and more empowering than using a femtech device.

So, what’s my point?

Ditch the femtech.

You can learn NFP, and you can do it on a budget without expensive devices (and it’ll be a more reliable method of birth control).

In this next section, I’ll show you the three first steps to get started.

The following advice is geared more towards those trying to avoid pregnancy or trying to achieve pregnancy without any special circumstances (not recently postpartum, breastfeeding). I also only point towards sympto-thermal resources. Look for a future post geared towards those charting with special circumstances.

Step 1: Find an Instructor

charitng

Symptopro and Couple to Couple League offer very reasonably priced courses that can be taken online or through video chat / phone calls. Both of these offer instructor support (all of these courses are around $75-$150, but rates may vary for individual teachers). These two organizations also offer their own app (or website) to use with the method.

Besides the organizations I listed, there are also many freelance NFP teachers. FAMBC offers a list of instructors. You may also stumble on a few on Instagram by searching for things like #naturalfamilyplanning and #fertilityawareness.

I have plans to offer services that are affordable to someone who makes minimum wage. My basic charting help and course will cost $75. It is my belief that all women should be able to afford to learn how to interpret their own fertility. It is such a vital skill for navigating our lives. If you would like to work with me when my courses open in the September 2019, please fill out this —> form <—

You may wonder why anyone would pay for an instructor if it is possible to self-teach. When I first started charting, I didn’t know that the perfect efficacy rating of NFP was based on the Sensiplan study which followed people who had been taught by an instructor. Women who are self taught and lack a community may not reach the perfect efficacy level. Similarly, when women trust femtech devices blindly, it may result in less than perfect efficacy rates. When women are taught by an instructor, the sympto-thermal method typical use rate is 98.2%.

Step 2: Get a Thermometer

thermometer

If you are looking for a thermometer, any basal body temperature (BBT) thermometer will do. Just make sure that it is not a fever thermometer. The precision of the BBT thermometer is necessary. Check your local pharmacies or look online. My personal favorite thermometer is the iSnow. It holds sixty temperatures, has a backlight, an alarm, and a pretty quiet beep. You can find multiple versions of it in the twenty dollar price range.

If you want a cheap thermometer without a backlight, the mabis is great. This was my first thermometer.

You can also use a glass BBT. These take a little longer to take your temperature. Check for them in stores near you or online.

3. Pick an App / Way to Chart

fertlity friend

If your method doesn’t come with an app, check out my blog post “Top 3 Fertility Awareness Mobile Charting Apps” to help you decide which one is right for you.

Look into paper charting. Pen and Paper Fertility releases some great journals. You can also find some free charts to download on TCOYF’s website.

You can also try spreadsheet charting. Look for my blog post on how to get started with Google Sheets.

Top 3 Fertility Awareness Mobile Charting Apps

One of the first steps many women take when starting their charting journey is downloading a period app. However, not all apps are created equal. A quick search in the app store comes up with dozens of apps. Sadly, very few of them are suitable for those using NFP or FAM. Most are just forms of the rhythm method, an unreliable from of birth control that comes up with predictions based on past cycles. My review only includes apps that allow women to track cervical mucus and basal body temperature–the two main signs in SymptoThermal Methods. I also tried to only pick apps that allowed self-interpretation. Learning how to interpret your own fertility signs is vitally important when charting.

1. Kindara

kindara2

Available on Android and iPhone.

Perk: The iPhone version allows users to share their whole chart.

Con: The Android version is known to be considerably more glitchy than the iPhone version. On Android, users can select “Share This Chart” and “With Community” to access a screen where they may screenshot their own chart.

Cost

Perk: Free Version Available

Con: Vaginal Sensation and more than four categories are extra. Premium version is $4.99 USD/month or $49.99 USD/year

 

SymptoThermal Rules Interpretation

Perk: I don’t know if Kindara has a monopoly on self-interpretation or what, but it’s one of the only apps to allow users to interpret and mark their own peak day and temperature shift. It also lets users mark their own coverline. This means that Kindara is good for those using a method like Taking Charge of Your Fertility (which has a higher coverline) and those using Sensiplan (which has a lower coverline). Lastly, Kindara has a very easy to read, clear chart. This is so important for users, and for those helping them.

Predictions

Kindara also does not predict fertile windows unless the user is trying to conceive (I recommend ignoring these even if trying to conceive. It is always best to do your own interpretations or ask an instructor if uncertain). It will predict menstruation based on average luteal phase length once it has enough data.

Other Features:

  • Users may share charts and get feedback from the community
  • Counts days past ovulation when shift is marked
  • Cervix Tracking (Height, Openness,Firmness)
  • Sex Tracking (Protected, Unprotected, Withdrawal, Insemination
  • OPK and Pregnancy Tests Tracking
  • Journal Available
  • Pairs with Wink Thermometer (syncs with the app via Bluetooth)
  • Emojis can be used in custom data

2. Fertility Friend

fertlity friend

Available on Android and iPhone 

Pro: Fertility Friend appears to work equally well on Android and iPhone

Cost

Pro: Free, paying is not necessary to be able to chart.

Con: VIP membership available starting at $9.99/month. This is a little expensive. The community sharing feature is only available to those who pay.

SymptoThermal Rules Interpretation

Perk: Coverline can be overridden under settings.  There are options to chart cervical mucus and temperatures.

Con: The app automatically interprets. For new users, this may be confusing. 

Predictions

Fertility Friend does predict fertile windows, period days, ovulation days, and a recommended test day for pregnancy. As always, users should rely on their own interpretations and get help from an instructor if needed.

Other Features:

  • Cervix Tracking (Height, Openness, Firmness)
  • Pregnancy and OPK tracking
  • Ton of Options for Mood, Health, Diet
  • Options for IVF, A.R.T., and Fertility Medication Tracking
  • Weight Data
  • Lightbox (With VIP compare photos of OPK and HPT tests)
  • Chart Overlay (Compare multiple cycles on one chart)
  • Sex Tracking (no option to differentiate unprotected versus protected)

3. OvuView

ovuview

Available on Android Only

Con: Pretty much the fact that it isn’t available on Apple products

Cost

Perk: Free (but with ads). One time payment of $4.99 to remove all ads. This is the cheapest app with the most features for custom tracking.

SymptoThermal Rules Interpretation

Perk: You can pick from multiple methods. Users may turn methods on and off.

Con: No self interpretation available. I have included it because unlike any other app that I have come across that interprets for users, the methods can be turned off. Users may play around with the methods to see if they can mark their chart according to their method’s rules. Turning off all settings would leave a chart for the user to interpret themselves even though they can’t self-mark.  Another con is that the temperature scale is very hard to read. Make sure to round or drop your temps. Ovuview may not always do this correctly.

Predictions

Ovuview predicts future fertile windows, ovulation days, and periods. Users should ignore this in favor of self-interpretation.

Other Features:

  • A ton of custom tracking like medications, moods, weight, etc.
  • Syncs with the Tempdrop device (This is wearable BBT. My review is coming soon. Full disclosure: this link earns me ten dollars if you use it to purchase the device)
  • Cool design. Users can choose their own chart colors, background, custom data colors, etc.
  • Cervix Tracking (Position, Opening, Texture)
  • OPK and Pregnancy Test Tracking
  • Fertility Monitor Tracking (None, Low, High, Peak)
  • Sex Tracking

Conclusion

There are limited options for self-interpretation when it comes to FAM apps. The three apps above are the best I’ve found when it comes to self-marking.

Look out for my next blog on how to chart using Google Sheets. I’ll be creating a Youtube video on how to do this yourself. This method of charting allows self-interpretation, custom data tracking, and users can chart on their computer or phone.

Google Sheets

chart 19

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