The Scoop: Around 9% of men and 11% of women battle fertility problems during their reproductive years. Many of those people have trouble understanding their bodies to plan pregnancy during the ideal time in the relationship. For those couples, inne is an innovative fertility monitor that tracks a woman’s cycle. Instead of using body temperature, a standard metric for many other systems, the monitor uses saliva to confirm ovulation through hormones. It helps couples learn about their bodies and make the best choices for their relationships and lives.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11% of women and 9% of men experience fertility problems during their child-bearing years. About one-third of the time, the health concerns are on the man’s side, while another third comes from the woman. The remaining third of fertility issues have unknown causes.
Still, couples in relationships who are ready to conceive may think the process is as simple as just having unprotected sex. But government studies show that even after a year of unprotected sex, up to 15% of couples still have not become pregnant. After two years, 10% of couples haven’t had a healthy baby.
While there may be many reasons couples can’t conceive, understanding when a woman is most likely to get pregnant can help keep expectations realistic. Many fertility monitors use body temperature to gauge when a woman has the best chance to conceive. But that’s not the most accurate method. For example, if a woman has an alcoholic beverage that can dramatically change her body temperature.
Many women turn to the inne fertility monitor to gain a better idea of their ovulation time.
Inne uses a saliva test that women can easily perform at home that produces accurate results, said Daniel Bulygin, the Chief Commercial Officer for inne.
“After confirming ovulation, inne’s algorithm can predict the next ovulation date, and hence the fertile window, even more precisely,” he said. “It becomes more accurate over time as we’re learning from the data on every customer’s unique hormone profile and cycle.”
At-Home Saliva Tests Help Women Understand Their Cycles
The founder of inne wanted to give women an alternative to hormonal contraception, which they can use to track a reproductive cycle or plan for pregnancy. When a woman knows she is ovulating, she is more likely to get pregnant without taking additional hormones.
“The inne minilab, however, can act as more than just a contraceptive aid,” Daniel said. “With the onboard sensors and our testing strips, we determine how the progesterone levels change throughout the menstrual cycle.”
That robust personal data helps women understand their cycles better. They’ll know the most fertile days, which can help couples get pregnant faster.
inne’s in-home system includes a reader and testing strips for saliva. Women take the test within a four-hour window every day, and then they can track their results through an app available on their iOS device. The company plans to release an Android version, too.
Saliva technology makes inne’s testing system much different from the tests that rely on body temperature, as those must be done at the same time each day. Alcohol consumption or heart rate may also affect test results.
The only requirement inne’s system has is that there be no foreign substances in the mouth 30 minutes before testing — or that the mouth is rinsed 10 minutes before collecting saliva. Testers can track their progesterone levels and follow the easy-to-read guidance regarding the chance of getting pregnant throughout the month.
Because the system works with hormones, it’s possible to confirm ovulation. That makes it more accurate and gives couples who are ready to bring a child into their relationship increased confidence.
The Team Loves Hearing From Couples Who Get Pregnant
Daniel said the company culture at inne is different from that of any other startup he’s worked with through the years.
“It’s a culture of empathy and respect not only for each other but also for oneself,” he said. “What we live inside the company also translates to how we treat our customers — with respect and empathy.”
The team appreciates the feedback it receives from customers, especially when it helps improve the product or the app. The team’s favorite testimonials are the ones from couples who were finally able to get pregnant after trying for a long time.
“We are so happy that we have already helped so many couples get pregnant, especially those who have been trying unsuccessfully for many months, some even more than a year,” Daniel said. “Those stick out the most, of course.”
However, the team has goals beyond helping couples reach the parenthood stage of their relationship. It also wants to help women understand more about their cycles.
Women who become pregnant can still benefit from the information inne gathers. It includes a feature that tracks and monitors progesterone levels through the first months of pregnancy to help achieve a healthy birth.
The minilab system uses a highly sensitive immunoassay and advanced image processing to detect small changes in hormone levels. It detects the change from low to high progesterone levels, marking the transition from the follicular (before ovulation)to the luteal phase (after ovulation) in the menstrual cycle.
Pinpointing and confirming the ovulation not only provides reassurance for the couples aiming to conceive, but also helps to further refine the prediction of the fertile window and ovulation in future cycles — which, in turn, enhances their chances of pregnancy.
inne Empowers Users to Take Control of Fertility
Beyond providing technology that allows women to track and understand their reproductive health at home, inne also offers a science-based blog that teaches couples more about fertility.
One blog post focuses on a common condition known as PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome. The condition is characterized by a hormone imbalance, and symptoms can cause irregular menstrual cycles that make it hard to know when ovulation occurs.
Another article focuses on sperm, which begin to decline in health as a man ages. But the impact of age on a man’s fertility is less of a concern than the impact of age on a woman’s fertility. Daniel said that there are so many variables to learn, but none are as important as personal measurements.
“We are working on bringing the inne minilab to Android users and making it more accessible by refining our algorithm to also cater to those with irregular cycles, as well as women who suffer from endometriosis and PCOS,” he said.
The team is also working to create a system that tests a broader range of hormones to develop personalized recommendations for users based on more than just their progesterone levels. They’re adding more features and responding to feedback from current couples who rely on the minilab.
And after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have resumed their clinical study to obtain the Pearl Index. It is an official standard to evaluate the efficacy of a contraceptive method. The company hopes to publish the results soon and help even more women take ownership of their fertility.